Ryan Reynolds returns in his career-defining role as Wade Wilson and shows he hasn’t lost any of his signature wit.

From the opening frames of Deadpool 2, myself and every single member of the audience knew what this movie was going to deliver. This wasn’t going to hold back on the meta humour that made the first film one of the biggest surprise hits the superhero genre had ever seen. With the first being such a monolithic success on a shoestring budget (for a superhero movie) of AUD$77 million, I knew this movie was going to be even bigger. It was whether it was able to take the freshness of the first and repeat that on a larger scale, that would define the success of this film.

Picking up two years after the first instalment, Deadpool 2 follows Wade Wilson (Ryan Reynolds) now being forced to protect a young mutant, known as Russell “Firefist” Collins (Julian Dennison), from the time-travelling soldier, Cable (Josh Brolin). One thing Deadpool 2 thankfully doesn’t do is replicate the story and visual aesthetic of the first film to a ‘T.’. A strength of the first film was its laser-focused story, which was a relatively simple revenge-love story movie. The sequel definitely has a bigger, more complicated narrative, which was expected considering the growing expansion of characters that populate this sequel. The film struggles to find its footing in the first act, but once Firefist and Cable arrive, the movie gains its focus and is an absolute blast. One of this film’s strong points is its thematic pivot towards family. Thanks to the screenplay from returning writers Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick, with the added help of Ryan Reynolds, it is in no way a dispensable joke machine, and Wilson was given strong character amidst all the fourth-wall breaking and endless quips. There are some genuinely heartfelt and poignant scenes which give the film strong emotional grounding. The script makes Deadpool doubt himself as a character and it makes him all the more compelling.

After creative differences with Ryan Reynolds, the first film’s director, Tim Miller, stepped down from the sequel, allowing for John Wick and Atomic Blonde director, David Leitch (he co-directed John Wick with Chad Stahelski), to take his place. What Leitch has proven with his two previous films is that he’s a brilliant director of action, showing his knack for glorious long takes and stunning choreography. The hallway scene in Atomic Blonde may just be the best action scene of 2017. What Leitch has delivered in Deadpool 2 is far more dynamic, creative and stylish action than the first film. With a bigger budget, Leitch obviously had more tools at his disposal and has used them superbly—with the action sequences being the main reason why I prefer this film to the first. Leitch continues to show his love for Hong Kong action cinema, which is evident in the film’s incredibly fun, opening action sequence. There’s also a sequence around the mid-point of the film which was absolutely jaw dropping. Jonathan Sela’s excellent cinematography is on show where there’s some technically astounding lighting arrangements in this standout sequence.

This movie isn’t just Deadpool’s show however; we are also introduced to prominent newcomers Cable and Domino (Zazie Beetz). Josh Brolin stood out in Avengers: Infinity War, portraying Thanos brilliantly, and he’s clearly having a fantastic time playing in another, albeit from a very different Marvel sandbox. There is interesting groundwork laid for Cable which has a nice connection to the theme and Brolin is a brilliant straight man to Reynolds’ Deadpool. He plays Cable with stern confidence and is a joy to watch when he’s on screen. He’s certainly having a 2018 to remember so far! Zazie Beetz is also an absolute standout as Domino, and she delivers so much charisma in this really fun role. She’s shown herself to be a brilliant dramatic actress in Donald Glover’s Emmy winning FX show, Atlanta, and here she shows her fantastic range as an actress. Her superpower of luck is perfectly shown in some brilliantly constructed Rube Goldberg-like scenes.

The film also sets up the new X-Force team, and the way their introduction’s handled is hilarious, unexpected and absolutely outrageous.

The jokes on show here come at a million miles per hour. Not every single one hits, but when they do it’s absolutely uproarious. It’s clear that writers Reese, Wernick and Reynolds don’t care about crossing every line imaginable. There’s even more meta references and fourth wall breaking on show. Reynolds confirms that this is his signature role and one which he was born to play. You can tell he’s having an absolute blast playing this character.

If you didn’t like the first film, definitely steer clear from this. Even though it’s different in terms of story and visual aesthetics, it still maintains the irreverent identity of the first film, just on a far bigger scale.

Despite its periodic weaknesses in storytelling and structure, it’s nearly impossible to walk out of this film without having been entertained on some level. I’m eager to see where Ryan Reynolds is going to take this character next, especially in regards to the X-Force.

Deadpool 2 throws everything at the wall and surprisingly, most things stick. Is it needlessly self-aware and obnoxious? Tick. Does it revel in its own edginess? Tick. Is it a great time? Tick. Thanks to some brilliantly crafted action scenes from David Leitch, the film has an electric quality throughout. Newcomers Josh Brolin and Zazie Beetz are great and the film also delivers the best credits scene in a superhero film to date. Yes, there’s big CGI fights, obvious foreshadowing and ‘lazy writing’, all of which Deadpool himself admits during the film, but what keeps Deadpool 2 from simply being the cinematic equivalent of a meme and reference generator is its quality thematic focus on family and Deadpool’s vulnerability as a character. This was a sequel I was worried for. Comedy sequels can often fall flat, and Fox has had a mixed record in terms of its X-Men properties, but thankfully Deadpool 2 hits even stronger than the first. Much like what Deadpool tries to do himself, everyone clearly put maximum effort into this sequel.

 

Deadpool 2 is in cinemas now.

 

Images sourced from Den of Geek and GA Gadget.