When the first DEADPOOL film came out in 2016, few people thought it would do well. Making a movie about motor-mouthed, self-aware, anti-hero who mocks not only his own comic universe but the competing ones as well was risky enough, but the script was also full of profanities and sexual references. The studio (Fox) would have preferred that the film be more PG but they realised that cutting the film to pieces to achieve that family-friendly rating would kill it. They were right and the film has since gone on to become the highest grossing R-rated film worldwide to date with a box office of US$780 million on a shoestring budget (for a superhero film) of just US$58 million.
Even with the R rating, Fox was so sure they had a hit on their hands, the studio suits greenlit a sequel three days before the first film was released. That sequel, DEADPOOL 2, is now here, opening on a Tuesday (rather than on a Thursday, as is the norm here in Hong Kong), presumably to grab as much box office cash as it can before SOLO: A STAR WARS STORY opens next week. Prior to this film’s release, though, the big question was whether or not the scriptwriters would go where no superhero film has gone before. Deadpool is a pansexual character and so far he has only been teasing about his gameness. The closest they came to showing anything “alternative” was in the original film’s closing credits involving a cartoon unicorn. Would audiences accept seeing whatever sexual ideas pop into Deadpool’s head? In key markets like China where LGBT relationships are frowned upon at best, DEADPOOL was banned at the gate, though it finally had its release last month – uncut – at the Beijing International Film Festival. If DEADPOOL 2 was going to go further down that road, it would definitely be a non-starter in that country. Fans in China: Stay tuned.
DEADPOOL 2 begins right here in Hong Kong (or a staged facsimile of our city but let’s give props to the director and scriptwriters for the neon sign atop one of the buildings that says “DEADPOOL” in Chinese – 死侍) where the “merc with a mouth” (Ryan Reynolds, LIFE) is busy dispatching various bad guys with his arsenal of guns and twin katana swords. Events take him to back to the Xavier Mansion where Colossus (voiced by Serbian actor Stefan Kapičić) again tries to convince Wade/Deadpool to join the X-Men, which he does – as a trainee – when they hear that a young mutant named Russell Collins (Julian Dennison) is causing havoc at the orphanage for mutants where he lives. Russell, who calls himself Firefist, claims he was physically abused there but nothing is ever simple whenever Deadpool is involved. Not long after Russell is subdued, Cable (Josh Brolin, AVENGERS franchise), a cybernetic mutant from the future, arrives to try to kill the boy. After Wade’s fiancée, Vanessa (Morena Baccarin, TV’s HOMELAND) tells him that his heart is in the wrong place, Wade decides to form his own force of mutant fighters to take on Cable and protect Russell.
If you liked the first film, you’ll like this one too. It’s just more of the same – lots of violence, lots of spiffy stunt work (director David Leitch previously made ATOMIC BLONDE and JOHN WICK, and was a stuntman for many years), lots of wisecracking meta humour, lots of shade being thrown at the MARVEL and even the DC franchises, and a few funny jabs at star Ryan Reynolds – including one in one of the film’s two closing credit sequences. The sequel also sees the return of most of DEADPOOL’s supporting characters including taxi driver Dopinder (Karan Soni), Blind Al (Tony award winner Leslie Uggams), Negasonic Teenage Warhead (Brianna Hildebrand) and mercenary bar owner Weasel (T.J. Miller, OFFICE CHRISTMAS PARTY). Given Miller’s arrest last month for calling in a false bomb threat on an Amtrak train, this may just be the last time you’ll see him on the big screen for a long time.
Unlike the other MARVEL films, if you haven’t seen the first DEADPOOL film, you’ll be struggling to understand the character relationships and motivations in this one. At the very least, you might be a tad shocked by some of the language you’ll hear. Yes, it’s that raunchy. At my screening, a young local woman brought her octogenarian grandmother along. I thought that’s either one very hip granny or she’s about to have a heart attack! I never saw her when the lights came up to find out.
Not surprisingly, Reynolds is ideal as Wade/Deadpool. The actor has made a career out of delivering zippy one-liners. (Don’t believe me? Check out the old TV show TWO GUYS, A GIRL AND A PIZZA PLACE.) The best thing about the film, though, is Zazie Beetz, who plays the supernaturally-lucky mutant Domino. We’ll be seeing plenty of Beetz in the next two years as she has seven film projects in various stages of production including an X-FORCE movie reportedly co-starring Reynolds and Brolin, which will be starting to shoot in October.
We all know fanboys and fangirls who like to say “this is the best film ev-er” whenever they see a new MARVEL film but to say that about DEADPOOL 2 would really be an exaggeration. Yes, it’s a funny film and it’s well made but it’s also pretty forgetful. I suspect it will make at least a half a billion dollars at the box office though, which means that DEADPOOL 3 is inevitable.
Go see it if you’re a fan or if you’re curious to find out who or what Wade grabs this time around.
Watch the review recorded on Facebook Live in RTHK Radio 4’s studio on Thursday, May 17th at 8:30 am HK time!
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