In the early weeks of 2016 Deadpool breezed into theaters like a breath of fresh air. Profane, raunchy, uber-violent air, sure, but it was undoubtedly refreshing—so much so, in fact, that it went on to become the highest-grossing R-rated movie ever, pulling in almost $800 million. And that made it so brilliant? “Irreverent” is a word that pops into mind, but that doesn’t quite do it justice. Deadpool took every cinematic convention and kicked it square in the ass. It broke the fourth wall with reckless abandon, oozed with meta humor, and gave us perhaps the most flawed and unconventional superhero of all time.
So how do you follow all that up in a sequel that was announced a week before the first film even debuted? You go even further. And set it to a soundtrack featuring Celine Dion, Air Supply, and Dolly Parton.
When our hero (Ryan Reynolds) opens Deadpool 2 by informing everyone it’s a family film, we’re already cocking our head to the side, especially since it’s immediately after watching him recline on some hazmat barrels in his apartment, light a cigarette, and blow himself up. Turns out the guy is dealing with some personal stuff (no spoilers) and needs to get away for a little while. His old buddy Colossus (voiced by Stefan Kapičić) comes to pick up the pieces (literally) and take him to the X-Mansion, where Deadpool becomes a trainee.
On his first assignment he responds to a standoff between police and young Russell (Julian Dennison), an orphan at a mutant reeducation center who is fed up with being abused at the hands of the warden and orderlies. Deadpool attempts to intervene but ends up arrested alongside Russell and, while in mutant jail, gets paid a visit by the hulking Cable (Josh Brolin), who’s on a mission of his own.
From there the mayhem only gets more over-the-top, culminating with Deadpool assembling his own motley-crew version of the Avengers to dispatch Cable. The X-Force, as he calls it, includes a gaggle of superhero misfits, including Domino (Zazie Beatz), Bedlam (Terry Crews), and a blink-and-you-miss-it cameo from a Hollywood A-lister as Vanisher.
Along the way the riffs come fast and furious, pooping on everything from the movie’s own script and special effects to the DC Universe to Jared Kushner. Nothing is sacred, nor should it be. Reynolds, who shares screenwriting duties with returnees Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick, is very serious about not taking things seriously, spoofing everything under the sun, including himself. His self-flagellation makes for Deadpool 2’s best jokes; a mid-credits scene skewering Reynolds’ awful Green Lantern is perhaps the greatest gag in the movie.
It’s clear director David Leitch (Atomic Blonde) completely bought into the insanity, going all-in on virtually every shot and offering up a non-stop barrage of shoot-outs, fights, and car chases. It’s so bonkers that you’ll find yourself, still with head cocked, trying to remember the plot at several points along the way. And then you’ll laugh at yourself for even having that thought. Plot? We don’t need no stinking plot—not when we’re laughing our tails off at the bastard lovechild of Quentin Tarantino and Seth Rogen.