Friday, May 18, 2018

Deadpool 2: Still gleefully gory

Deadpool 2 (2018) • View trailer 
Three stars. Rated R, for relentless violence, profanity, gore, sexual candor, tasteless humor and rather bizarre nudity

By Derrick Bang

If it’s true the world is going straight to hell, this film series is pushing us into the abyss.

Having been made an X-Men trainee by the metal-skinned Colossus, Deadpool (Ryan
Reynolds, left) attempts diplomatic persuasion in order to defuse a volatile crisis
involving a rogue mutant. Needless to say, that won't work...
The character of Wade Wilson, known as Deadpool while concealed beneath red and black Spandex, occupies a tasteless subdivision of the Marvel Comics universe. His insolence and appetite for blood-drenched vigilante justice set him apart from superheroes who obey a higher moral calling, and his mutant talent — accelerated regeneration, like a lizard that can re-grow its tail — encourages all manner of gross-out melees.

To its credit (?), the companion film series quite faithfully replicates the vulgar tone, rude banter and hyper-violent carnage. If anything, Deadpool 2 is even more deplorably disgusting than its 2016 predecessor, which — no doubt — will delight the fans who’ve pushed that first film to a ludicrously high IMDB rating of 8.0. 

To paraphrase H.L. Mencken, nobody ever went broke underestimating the taste of the movie-going public.

Needless to say, these films can’t — shouldn’t — be taken seriously. They must be approached vicariously, enjoyed (endured?) as examples of the sick and/or dark-dark-dark humor typical of Pulp FictionBad Santa and both Kick-Ass entries.

All of which is a long-winded way of saying caveat emptor. If your idea of a good time doesn’t include watching our anti-hero groan and crack wise after literally getting ripped in two, bloody entrails dangling from both halves, better go for some other option at the multiplex.

This film picks up more or less where the first one left off, with the hideously scarred Wade (Ryan Reynolds) having settled into his role as masked mercenary and executioner of grotesquely vile criminal dons, drug kingpins, human traffickers and, well, you get the idea. Alas, that sort of behavior cuts both ways, and Wade gets hit where he lives. Literally.

Thanks to a quasi-alliance established with a few members of the X-Men, Wade is rescued from his subsequent funk by the imposing, metal-skinned Colossus (voiced by Stefan Kapicic), who — with ill-advised optimism — makes Deadpool a trainee member of the team. Their first mission: to quell a crisis at a home for wayward mutant orphans, where a distressed teenage pyrotic named Russell (Julian Dennison) is carrying out his own scorched-earth policy.

The encounter goes badly, because Deadpool can’t help reverting to form. When the smoke clears, both he and Russell — their powers nullified by dampening collars — are sent to a mutant prison dubbed “The Box.” Trouble is, with Wade’s regenerative abilities now canceled, he’s back to dying of stage-four cancer.


Way off in some unspecified future, a semi-bionic mercenary dubbed Cable (Josh Brolin) returns home to find everything — including his wife and their daughter — burned to a crisp. Instinctively knowing who the culprit must have been, Cable activates his fantabulous time-traveling watch gizmo and “returns” to our present, with the intention of killing young Russell before he can grow up to become the super-villain who murdered his family (and lots of other people).

It all comes down to something that Russell is shortly destined to do: his first lethal act — no matter how justified — which will give him “a taste for it.” 

Ah, but if that initial incident can be prevented — if Russell can be persuaded to become a better version of himself — will that “correct” the dystopian mess that’s the future in which Cable resides? (Resided?)

The question seems moot, because it’s not as if a cancer-ridden Wade can do much to stop the heavily weaponed Cable. Except that — naturally — circumstances even the scales, and we’re back to the atrociously, absurdly, brutally sadistic status quo. Cue the flying limbs, severed heads and worse.

The fun (?) comes from the way stunt man-turned-director David Leitch and his scripters — Rhett Reese, Paul Wernick and Reynolds — refuse to obey cinematic convention. They don’t merely break the fourth wall; they shatter it completely. Reynolds frequently addresses the audience directly, often with asides that indicate he knows full well that he’s in a movie, which in turn is being made in a “Marvel universe” that’s actually the same as our real-world existence.

He name-checks movie characters and actual actors, defends his own behavior, calls attention to moments of deliberate foreshadowing, criticizes the way the movie is directed or written, all via a giddy running commentary that’s unrelentingly vulgar, smutty and profane. No quip is too insensitive, no action too appalling. This is true, lunatics-running-the-asylum filmmaking.

Even the opening “faux credits” get into the act. They’re merely snarky asides: “Directed by one of the guys who killed the dog in John Wick.”

No question: Reynolds has a great time with all this insanity. He’s a far better Deadpool than he was a Green Lantern, and his motor-mouthed, potty-drenched dialog is delivered with gleeful abandon.

New Zealand-born Dennison manages the near-impossible, by making Russell a reasonably tragic, ill-treated kid whose uncontrolled fire powers ignite ever-greater levels of despair. (That said, I’m not sure even this film can wrench humor from a subplot involving badly abused children.)

Zazie Beetz is terrific as a late-entry character dubbed Domino, whose “talent” is luck. “Luck can’t be a super-power,” Wade repeatedly objects. “Oh, yes it can,” she replies, just as insistently. And she’s absolutely right, as Beetz frequently demonstrates during a third act that the actress easily dominates.

Brolin is appropriately dour as the implacable, unforgiving Cable: a rage-fueled agent of what he believes is practical, pre-crime justice. (Shades of 2002’s Minority Report!) I’m guessing Brolin wanted a quasi-good-guy role in the Marvel film franchise, to compensate for having just eradicated half the universe, as Thanos in Avengers: Infinity War.

Morena Baccarin returns as Wade’s über-sexy lady love, Vanessa; Leslie Uggams also reprises her role as Blind Al, the only person Wade trusts when he’s emotionally spent. The hilariously grim Brianna Hildebrand pops up again, as the X-Gal Negasonic Teenage Warhead (whose power need not be explained further). The latter has a new X-sweetie: Noriko Ashida (Shioli Kutsuna), better known as the electric whip-wielding Surge, who giggles each time she calls Deadpool by his actual name.

Granted, this film’s battles, altercations and cityscape-leveling carnage are choreographed with pizzazz by Leitch and editors Craig Alpert, Elísabet Ronaldsdóttir and Dirk Westervelt. (No surprise, given Leitch’s background.) And, yes, much of the dialog — even (particularly?) the most indelicate stuff — prompts chuckles and belly-laughs.

But a little of this crass, exploitative tone goes a long way, and this flick’s relentless vulgarity and gore wear thin — as does the wafer-thin plot — long before we reach the final gasp. 119 minutes of this overkill is at least half an hour too much.

Reynolds has been tagged to at least two more upcoming appearances as Deadpool, so I guess we’d better get used to the guy.

No comments:

Post a Comment