'Maximum effort' is Deadpool's catchphrase, shouted as he runs into whichever violent encounter he finds himself in. It is also the mantra for this sequel, where Deadpool finds himself bereft of a purpose and fighting a time-travelling cyborg. Everything is increased to the max here, so there is plenty of what worked in the first Deadpool, as well as numerous examples of what didn't. Your enjoyment level will depend on how you felt about the original. For me, this film does just enough to warrant a smile throughout. And when the film is funny, it is very funny.
The director for this new installment is David Leitch who brings his action movie experience from John Wick to make this a more balletic, frenetic experience. The action scenes here are exemplary, crisply shot and more complicated in scope. But what is refreshing is that for the most part, Deadpool 2 doesn't get lost in a blockbuster wormhole. It keeps the focus on our hero, a role that is still a perfect fit for Ryan Reynolds' particular brand of smug sarcasm. He gives this film his all and keeps us charmed throughout.
Whilst many of the first film's characters return for another dose of the action, the stand outs this time are a pair of new additions. Josh Brolin makes it two-for-two in memorable super-powered antagonists (having decimated the Avengers in April). He's a gruff, oddly-charismatic presence, a great foil for Reynolds. But he is upstaged by the presence of Zazie Beetz who is exceptional as Domino. Amongst the recruits for the X-Force (the super team Deadpool sets up) she has the biggest impact and the most screen time, her superpower of luck being hilariously demonstrated throughout. It has to be said that Rob Delaney steals every moment he's on screen as Peter.
There are flaws in this film. It feels too long, losing its momentum for a stretch early on and I could have done with more of Brianna Hildebrand's fantastic Negasonic Teenage Warhead. Also when the film reaches for your heartstrings it fails to elicit much response. But the great strength of the Deadpool series is how refreshing they feel in comparison to most other modern superhero films. As opposed to constantly finding bigger stakes, a more CGI-tastic threat for heroes to face, a belief in a film's own self-importance, Deadpool 2 is at its best when it is making you laugh. And there are a number of sequences here that are hilarious. The film works hard to make you leave with a grin and achieves this. The element that charms the most is the sense that those behind Deadpool can't quite believe their luck that not only were they allowed to make the first film but they've been allowed to return and do it all over again. Few blockbusters today lack the semblance of a made-by-committee quality and so for that Deadpool 2 should be cherished as a film made by fans.