“Deadpool 2” (R)
Ryan Reynolds is back for another go as the Merc with a Mouth in “Deadpool 2,” and his timing couldn’t be better. Deadpool — in all his jabbering glory — is the salve we need to heal the emotional damage caused by “Avengers: Infinity Wars.” And boy does Reynolds — and a terrific ensemble — bring it. Crazier, funnier and infused with more action and comic-book combat than before, “Deadpool 2” is the rare sequel that’s better than its predecessor. With the wisecracking at an all-time high, “Deadpool 2 earns its R-rating in the most ingenious ways. Plus, the movie has one of the best extended post-credits scenes ever.
In taking the reins from Tim Miller, director David Leitch (“Atomic Blonde”) — working from a script by Rhett Reese, Paul Wernick and Reynolds — doesn’t let the tsunami of one-liners get in the way of the plot. It’s pretty simple. When we catch up with Deadpool, aka Wade Wilson, the former special-ops turned wiseass assassin (who has a heart of gold), he’s reeling over a tragedy, full of guilt and remorse.
He’s a mess of self-pity and the movie makes the most of it. Eventually, he takes refuge at the X-Mansion. Later, the script calls on Deadpool to protect a chubby, teenage, mutant named Firefist, aka Russell Collins (Julian Dennison, from the indie gem, “The Hunt for the Wilderpeople”).
The lad is being hunted by Josh Brolin’s (“Avengers: Infinity War”) time-traveling X-Man, Cable, a grumpy old man with a Winter Soldier arm. He’s more or less the villain, as are Jack Kesy’s Juggernaut and Eddie Marsan’s orphanage headmaster.
No one breaks the fourth-wall like Reynolds, directly addressing the audience when it’s time for a “huge streaming ball of foreshadowing,” or when he’s teasing a “big CGI fight coming up.” From “Frozen” to “Yentl” to “Say Anything,” the pop culture references come fast and furious, especially the digs aimed at the DC and Marvel comic universes, including a zinger about Hawkeye’s (Jeremy Renner) absence from the latest Avengers movie. My favorite is when Deadpool tells Brolin’s Cable to “Zip it, Thanos.”
A lot of this humor works only if you’ve seen those other movies. It so, meta, and Reynolds rewards us big time for being geeks. Also, be on the lookout for surprise cameos.
The breakout star is “Atlanta’s” Zazie Beetz as Domino, the only female member of the X-Force team Deadpool assembles. Her superpower is “luck” and her saucy swagger rivals Deadpool’s. She also can hold her own against her male mates: Zeitgeist (“It’s” Bill Skarsgård), Shatterstar (Lewis Tan), Bedlam (Terry Crews) and Peter (Rob Delaney). Also reprising their parts are T.J. Miller, playing Wade’s best friend, Leslie Uggams as Blind Al, and Morena Baccarin as Wade’s girlfriend, Vanessa. Stefan Kapicic again provides the voice of Colossus.
The movie sets its tongue-in-cheek tone right from the opening titles, where Leitch’s credit reads: “Directed by one of the guys who killed the dog in ‘John Wick.’” From there, the giggles and yuks keep coming. Deadpool might be indestructible, and he can wield his ninja swords better than anyone, but maybe his real superpower is his ability to make audiences laugh out loud.