After the phenomenal success of 2016’s Deadpool, Ryan Reynolds and crew are ready to go a massive follow-up. And although Deadpool grossed $783.1 million at the global box office and was a well-made superhero-comedy (with a relatively “small” budget of $58 million), I felt things were a little off. I recognized plenty of the pop culture references and understood where the character and film were coming from, yet I found myself mostly chuckling and only occasionally laughing out loud. The Merc with a Mouth is fully realized with star Ryan Reynolds as the maniacal mercenary, but I can’t help but feel the jokes come too often and are there mainly out of necessity. But I guess I should be less critical of a character that constantly breaks the fourth wall in an attempt to charm audiences.

As is true with all sequels, Deadpool 2 aimed to go bigger – much bigger. The budget nearly doubled to $110 million, its marketing stretched from Earth to Mars, and its star power is enhanced thanks to a plethora of cameos. Adding to the full-on sequel mode, Deadpool even recruits his own team of crime fighters, a team of mutants known as X-Force. That allowed Fox to introduce more characters, including Domino (Beetz), Bedlam (Terry Crews), Shatterstar (Lewis Tan), Zeitgeist (Bill Skarsgard, IT), Vanisher (who will go unnamed) and Peter (Rob Delany). Of course, Colossus (Kapicic) and Negasonic Teenage Warhead (Hildebrand) are back, and they provide some sold laughs as they take in Deadpool as a trainee for the X-Men.

Of course, loveable cabbie Dopinder (Karan Soni) is back with an expanded role. He’s a scene-stealer, even more so than new fan favorite Peter.

The stakes are greater as its story centers on an abused and angry teenage mutant, Russell (Dennison). Russell seeks violent payback from the shady staff at the orphanage he’s living in. His criminal intentions are noticed by Cable (Josh Brolin) a cybernetic soldier from the future who (with a plot reminiscent of 2012’s Looper) goes back in time to hunt down and kill Russell.

Co-written by Rhett Reese, Paul Wernick (both penned the script for the 2016’s Deadpool) and Reynolds, Deadpool 2 changed directors – David Leitch took over for Tim Miller (who left reportedly due to creative differences with Reynolds). In regards to its action sequences, that is an upgrade since Leitch co-directed (although uncredited) John Wick. Leitch also executive produced John Wick 2 but (more importantly) directed an instant action classic with Atomic Blonde.

Again, my reservations stem from the jokes – Reynolds, Reese and Wernick doubled-down. What is simply a part of Wade Wilson’s (i.e., Deadpool) persona has turned into a gimmick and plot device to move the story along. Many of the jokes and one-liners are more successful than in the original but its sheer volume is overwhelming, even tiresome. For comic fans, this is Deadpool at his best – and he is arguably the most faithful adaptation of a comic character. Cinematically, though, the multitude of jokes is overkill and I found myself struggling to keep up.

I have no doubts that Deadpool 2 will be massively successful with audiences and critics alike. Leitch, Reynolds and the rest of the cast and crew outdid themselves. Deadpool 2 is more of a comedy-spoof that happens to have some action, and if I had come in expecting that I likely would’ve enjoyed it much more. But as it stands, I see both Deadpool films as superhero stories that employ humor of nearly every variety (pop culture references, surprising cameos, snide one-liners, sight gags, etc.) at amost every opportunity. I think there’s too much of it – the humor almost serves as another character.

At one point Wade Wilson, after listening to Cable discuss his mission, looks at the camera and boldly states, “Well, that’s just lazy writing.” Even with a decent story, it seemed as if Reese, Wernick and Reynolds got lazy and filled in plotholes with humor, and it ultimately hinders what could be a possibly great film. For what its worth it’s still a great time at the cinema (and is better than its predecessor), and you will not be bored once during its 119-minute running time.

4 stars out of 5

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