Deadpool 2 film review: does the sequel live up to its predecessor?

Wade Wilson is back and weirder than ever in Deadpool 2

Few films hit the ground running quite as audaciously as Deadpool 2. After an explosion-heavy opening scene it launches into an epically violent, continent-crossing montage of Deadpool doing what he does, all to a song choice that we wouldn’t dream of spoiling. It sets out its stall perfectly – the Merc with a Mouth is back, and he’s more meta than ever.

This time around, Cable (Josh Brolin) has arrived from the future to kill Russell (Julian Dennison), a hilariously foul-mouthed, abused mutant kid who will grow into a mass murderer. Deadpool (Ryan Reynolds) vows to save Russell from Cable, but he’s going to need some help – which is where X-Force come into it. To say much else would ruin the wild ride that is sitting in a cinema, watching Deadpool 2, and wondering how the hell they get away with LITERALLY everything you’re seeing on screen.

Like all superhero sequels, everything from the action to the cast is bigger this time round, but unlike most superhero sequels, this one isn’t darker. There’s gruesome violence, gore, and all manner of disgusting stuff, but the film is never dark. Instead, Deadpool 2 is a lot more emotional than the first film, and the writers and director do well to remember that, deep down, Wade is a big softie. He’s got a good heart, and there are some genuinely touching scenes between Wade and Russell. But the film’s not perfect – it mines some frustratingly easy and tired tropes to generate a lot of its emotion, which was a bold move in a film that includes the line ‘that’s just lazy writing’.

The wide-angle, chaotic action scenes of the pre-credits sting are hard to top, but X-Force’s first mission – and the first time we see Domino’s (Zazie Beetz) powers in action – is brilliant. Who knew you could have so much fun sitting down? Deadpool 2 is far more action-heavy that the first film, and John Wick co-director David Leitch knows his way around an action scene. Pleasingly, most of the fight scenes are the work of actual humans rather than CGI doubles, with one major exception, which Wade himself enthusiastically points out to the viewers.

Cable makes for a solid antagonist. The character has never been known for his emotional range, but Brolin is the perfect fit, making Cable both a believable physical threat and an excellent deadpan foil to Wade. He brings in new, gruffly likeable layers as Cable struggles with his mission, and with the idiot who keeps somehow thwarting him. Domino is a more unusual – and refreshing – addition. Instead of being played as some sort of dark, sexy anti-hero, she’s chilled out and going with the flow, trusting her good-luck powers to take her wherever she’s meant to be, and Beetz is great in the role.

The real star, though, is Dennison, who has only got better since his starring role in Hunt For The Wilderpeople. He can switch from hilarious to heartbreaking in the blink of an eye and delivers such a natural performance that you genuinely believe he’s shooting real fire from his hands. It’s a cliché to say it, but he’s the heart of the film. Deadpool 2 didn’t need to resort to lazy storytelling tropes to generate emotion when it has Dennison and Reynolds.

Speaking of Reynolds, he’s still the driving force of the film, and Deadpool just wouldn’t work without him. He draws a clear line between Deadpool – all meta gags and fourth wall breaking – and Wade, who’s very human. He gives a great performance in a film that’s so much fun, and so swaggeringly confident, that you can’t help but overlook its flaws.