In this film still from “Deadpool 2” released by 20th Century Fox, Wade Wilson (Ryan Reynolds) leans on Blind Al (Leslie Uggams). (Photo courtesy 20th Century Fox)

In this film still from “Deadpool 2” released by 20th Century Fox, Wade Wilson (Ryan Reynolds) leans on Blind Al (Leslie Uggams). (Photo courtesy 20th Century Fox)

‘Deadpool 2’ brings more heart amid violence

The first “Deadpool” was a bizarre movie. I was always amazed both at the fact that it was such a big hit and that they got it made at all. After all, the character had already been introduced and ruined by “Woverine: X-Men Origins,” and played by the same actor, no less. Couple that with the fact that it’s an R-rated comic book movie comedy where the main character spends half his dialogue talking directly to the audience and it seems like a big risk. But it paid off marvelously. The first movie made somewhere in the vicinity of all the money and so a sequel was a no-brainer. But how could they maintain the unique, manic quality of the original with it getting grating? Simple, up the plot.

“Deadpool” has very little in terms of plot. Bad guys turn Wade Wilson into the indestructible Deadpool, but leave him horribly scarred. He wants revenge. He gets it. “Deadpool 2” has quite a bit more going on. ‘Pool still wants revenge, this time for stuff that happens in the first ten minutes, but now he’s also grappling with a longing for a family, with the need to nurture. Much of the film is spent trying to assemble various teams that will serve as surrogate families for our hero. That search begins with an assignment as an X-Man Trainee, where Deadpool, the giant Russian metal man Colossus, and Negasonic Teenage Warhead respond to a report of a dangerous young mutant gone awry — Firefist, played by Julien Dennison from “Hunt for the Wilderpeople.” Also out for an encounter with our teenage ne’er-do-well is an angry, armed bounty hunter from the future named Cable. It seems Cable wants to kill the boy for something he’ll one day do, and Deadpool, trying on this whole “hero” thing for size, wants to stop him. What follows is action-packed, exciting, hilarious, and definitely R-rated. Just what one wants in their “Deadpool” movie.

I liked “Deadpool 2.” Ryan Reynolds plays the titular character with such scruffy geniality that it’s difficult not to enjoy it. Yes, much of it is incredibly crass, and sometimes the jokes don’t really work, but it’s obvious the care and attention the star has paid to this film – he’s listed as a co-writer and producer, as well. While I didn’t find it as funny or as surprising as the first film, “Deadpool 2” has more interesting characters, and a far more elaborate plot to offer. Sure, it still has jokes, but is more of a coherent story.

To this end, some of the spontaneity and silliness has been sacrificed, but maybe that’s not such a big deal. Aside from Reynold’s motormouth ‘Pool, some stand-outs in this film are Josh Brolin as Cable and Zazie Beetz as Domino. Brolin, who knocked it out of the park as Thanos in last year’s “Infinity War” returns as a character who is just a big ‘ol ball of emotion. Cable is fun, cool, and a great counterpart to Deadpool’s silliness. I hope they continue with this character.

Beetz, on the other hand, steals the show. Her character, Domino, whose power is basically that she’s just really lucky, is so much fun, and so different from anything you would have seen in the comic books, especially comics in the mid-90’s, when “Deadpool” was popular. Those were the heyday of random violence and female objectification. Every super heroine was just a vehicle for the comic artist to draw out their version of a fantasy babe. Domino is certainly pretty, but her character is in no way here to be viewed as a sex object. She was funny, tough, and by far my favorite part of the movie.

Speaking of sex, the first “Deadpool” was full of it, and they’ve really dialed that back here. On the other hand, the violence is much more graphic this time around. Still, the film manages to be sweeter, and the whole “searching for belonging” resonates throughout the characters nicely, giving the entire thing a kind of heart. Even Negasonic Teenage Warhead is in love this time around. What this film may have lost in its second installment — the element of surprise and manic, rapid-fire wit, it makes up for with good characters, an interesting plot, and a tender heart. “Deadpool” is growing up. Grade: A-

“Deadpool 2” is rated R for sexuality, extreme graphic violence, and pervasive language.

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