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Deadpool 2 ***

Worthy sequel delivers in many respects, but isn't quite as good as the original. 

Is it worth $10? Yes  

Fear and excitement pervade one’s emotions entering “Deadpool 2.” The 2016 original was so brash, hilarious and enjoyable that it’d be easy for its sequel to try too hard (think “Anchorman 2”), which would suck all the fun out of it.

Thankfully, “Deadpool 2” is as vulgar, self-aware and outrageous as we expect. It’s also bigger and better than its predecessor in a variety of ways, with one notable exception: They bungled the villain.

Director David Leitch’s (“Atomic Blonde”) film begins with Deadpool (Ryan Reynolds) more righteous than ever, slaying bad guys all over the world. He’s still happy with Vanessa (Morena Baccarin), and they’re planning to have a child. Yep, things couldn’t better for our favorite superhero who insists he’s not a superhero.

Then, something bad happens that sends Deadpool into a horrible tailspin. Ordinarily the main villain of this type of movie would commit this atrocity, thereby providing the hero motivation for revenge. But Cable (Josh Brolin, who also played Thanos in “Avengers: Infinity War”) has nothing to do with this. In fact, Cable has nothing to do with the movie for far too long. He appears early on in an out of context scene, looks angry, and vanishes. Literally. Then…nothing from him for a half hour, to the point that the mind starts to wonder who the random guy in the burned out apartment was, and what he has to do with anything. Quite a bit, it turns out, but you don’t learn his motivation until the beginning of the third act, which is far too late. All we know before then is that he’s a super soldier from the future who wants to kill a 14 year-old mutant named Russell (Julian Dennison). You simply cannot structure a villain’s arc in this way and have it work dramatically – too much is unsaid for too long, rendering the narrative uneven. It’s also unfair to Brolin, who handles the role well in spite of the filmmakers doing him no favors.

As for Deadpool, he loses all sense of purpose and wants to die, but literally can’t. He’s convinced to join the X-Men as a trainee, and it’s on his first mission that he meets Russell. Deadpool doesn’t really like Russell, but nonetheless does what he can to protect him, which becomes relevant once Cable shows up wanting to kill him.

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The plot imbalance is especially a shame given that the rest of Rhett Reese, Paul Wernick and Reynolds’ script is a doozy, full of funny pop culture references (hint: make sure you know what dubstep is before you go) and a knowing embrace of other comic book movies, including multiple shots at the Avengers. And there are cameos! They’re quick, but super cool.

“Deadpool 2” is both self-aware and an all-out fantasy, with a lead character who literally talks to the audience at the same time that he does things that could only happen in a movie. The end effect is that it draws viewers in, essentially making us part of the unrealistic world in which the movie plays out. Isn’t this escapism why we go to summer movies?

Did you know?
Stay for the credits to enjoy one of the film’s biggest laughs!

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