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Movie Review

I suspect the makers of Deadpool 2 are big Plugged In readers.

I don't mean big readers, mind you. (I could stand to lose a few pounds myself.) And I'm sure that whatever the actual girth or heft of Deadpool's brain trust may be, they're all beautiful in their own special ways.

But sometimes, I do wonder if they read our reviews and ask themselves, Selves, how can we make the next Deadpool movie actual, physical torture for Plugged In reviewers to write about?

Cue Deadpool 2, which not only seems explicitly designed to give f-word-counting critics like me serious writers' cramps, but unveils its first spoiler before the title sequence even begins. So trying to avoid spoilers here makes this introduction read a little like a Mad Libs exercise:

Deadpool is back, suffering from the (noun) of his (noun) but unable to (verb). He realizes that his way to (noun) may lie in saving Russell, a troubled mutant who (verb) in his (noun) and just might be (adjective). But Cable, a time-traveling (noun), wants to kill Russell before he (verb) his (noun) and unleashes his (noun) that terrible (noun). In order to protect Russell, Deadpool gathers a team of (adjective) (noun) and (noun) into the fray, with (adjective) results for (noun). And be sure to look for surprising cameos from (noun) and (noun)!

So perhaps it's just as well to end there, given how much content we have to plow through. In short, Deadpool battles bad guys, works with good guys, kills a lot of people and swears a lot.

Positive Elements

Deadpool is as anti an antihero as they come, so much so that Marvel could've legitimately renamed him Anti-Man (if it wouldn't have caused so much confusion with another Marvel superhero).

But for all the many, many faults that put said anti in Deadpool's antihero, he is still a hero here. And when Deadpool himself insists (through a bit of narration) that Deadpool 2 is a family film, he's not wholly wrong. He fosters a strange, superpowered family here, one that's admittedly filled with its share of foibles, but one that still provides love and support. too.

And what family would be complete without a potential prodigal son? That son is Russell, a 14-year-old kid who, due to years and years of abuse, has anger-management issues. That's troubling enough, but it's particularly bothersome when one considers that Russell can generate fire from his fists, turning him into one seriously frightening pyromaniac.

But Deadpool's not ready to give up on the lad, despite all his obvious problems. He wants to save the boy—not just from Cable, but from the teen's own inner torments, too. And he's willing to go to great lengths to protect Russell and show him a better way. "No child is hopeless," he says.

That theme of redemption runs throughout the film. After all, Deadpool's looking for his own measure of redemption, too, trying to prove to his straight-arrow X-Man pal, Colossus, that he's not as juvenile and irresponsible as he sometimes seems to be. Deadpool finds others who care for him as well, people willing to risk their lives and sacrifice their free time to partner with the "Merc with a Mouth" on his mission.

Spiritual Content

Toward the film's finale, you could argue that we're intended to see Deadpool as a twisted, sarcastic Christ figure of sorts, someone who sacrifices his all for the people around him. And I'm not straining to make that interpretative leap on my own here. Deadpool compares himself to both Jesus and God (with all the obvious problems that accompany such a comparison). "The Lord works in mysterious ways, don't I?" he says. At another juncture, he declares that he's been anointed by a "higher power," and someone in earshot of his monologue asks, "Did he just call himself Jesus?"

Indeed, Deadpool 2 delights in making irreverent nods toward faith and Christianity, which began even before the film's release: A promotional poster riffed on the most famous section of Michelangelo's Sistine Chapel, with Cable and Deadpool in the roles of God and Adam, respectively. It's captioned "The Second Coming."

Deadpool calls Colossus, his metallic friend, "Shiny Jesus." Someone quips sarcastically, "Why couldn't God take her hearing?" Weasel, another Deadpool friend, owns a bar, and we see a glowing Christian cross inside it—another winking aside to Deadpool's turn as a Christ-like figure.

In a fourth wall-breaking sequence, Deadpool reminds the audience that his first movie trumped The Passion of the Christ as the highest-grossing R-rated movie in history … at least overseas, where "there's no such thing as religion" anymore. Some scenes suggest that Deadpool's destined for a happy afterlife. "Is this heaven?" he asks someone who preceded him there.

The movie's focus on religion takes on a much darker tone when it turns its attention to a sadistic headmaster in charge of "reforming" mutant children. We learn that this man abused and tortured his charges, treating their mutancy as a sin and whispering in their ears, "Blessed are the wicked," who would be cleansed or cured by "my hand." He later calls one of his former pupils an "abomination."

Sexual Content

The headmaster and most of the institution's employees are repeatedly referred to as pedophiles. In flashback, we see the headmaster come uncomfortably close to Russell to whisper a message in his ear.

Deadpool 2 includes an explicitly queer female character: Negasonic Teenage Warhead, whom fans met in the first movie. She now has a girlfriend, fellow mutant Yukio. (We see the pair wrap their arms around each other's shoulders, but their physical affection doesn't go any further.)

Deadpool's own sexual fluidity is treated with a wink and a giggle. When Colossus picks up an injured Deadpool from the ground, the movie constructs it as a quasi-romantic sequence, complete with tender gazes, coquettish gestures and a love song playing in the background. Deadpool makes occasional (albeit joking) passes at other male characters, too (squeezing the buttocks of one, for instance). A male cabbie expresses a certain ambiguous affection for Deadpool as well.

Deadpool's heart, though, belongs to girlfriend Vanessa. She orders him to "kiss me like you miss me," and so he does. She gives him a birth control device as an anniversary present (indicating, apparently, that she's ready for children with him). Deadpool suggests that they get in the mood for babymaking by watching porn together. (But later, when the camera returns, they're absorbed in the old Barbra Streisand movie Yentl.)

Deadpool's primary superpower is physical regeneration even after the worst injuries. So when he's literally torn in half (more on that below), he recuperates by re-growing his lower body. We see his recovery in process: He refuses to cover up, so we see his bare, childlike legs and (very briefly) his privates. Others get more of an eyeful, and we hear banter about his exposed anatomy (and how he should really cover up).

We hear crude verbal references to intimate encounters in airport bathrooms, as well as other gags involving virginity, oral sex, "tea bagging," pedophilia, incest and allusions to various body parts and sexual acts. The opening title sequence mimics the clichéd sensuality of James Bond intros. Cleavage is bared. We see the bare backside of another character …

Violent Content

… just as someone inserts an electrical cable there, others push him into a pool, and he's electrocuted. And this, my friends, is one of the tamest bits of violence we see in this ultraviolent flick.

Deadpool is literally torn in half: We see blood fly and organs dangle from both pieces. He also attempts to blow himself up. The sequence is played a couple of times, and we see various body parts (including his severed head, as well as a hand with a middle finger extended) flying toward the camera. Deadpool is shot dozens of times. And despite his regenerative superpower, he faces actual, literal death, thanks to a special collar that mysteriously negates mutant abilities. (When he's forced to wear the collar for an extended period of time, his stage 4 cancer returns with a vengeance, and he nearly expires from the disease.)

Others die gruesomely. Someone gets sucked into a shredder. Acid dissolves part of another fellow's body. Still another person gets electrocuted by power lines. People are killed by moving vehicles, too.

Russell sets things alight with his hands. He repeatedly expresses a desire to burn his old headmaster alive. It's suggested Russell could develop a taste for killing and become a horrifically savage, unstoppable murder machine: In a future timeline, we see a pair of his victims, their charred remains only vaguely recognizable as humans.

Violence is unremitting throughout, enough to dizzy even the most stable of Plugged In reviewers: Dozens upon dozens of people are shot and killed or stabbed and killed or diced and killed. Some presumably perish in car crashes. Limbs and heads get lopped off with swords and, once, a chainsaw. Most of this carnage is done for laughs, but very bloody laughs these are. Folks get in nonlethal fights, too, filled with punches and kicks and shots to the groin. Someone expresses his desire to be a "contract killer."

Crude or Profane Language

About 90 f-words, 35 s-words, two c-words and scads of other profanities, including "a--," "b--ch," "d--n," "h---", "p---ies" and "d--k." God's name is misused more than a dozen times (thrice with "d--n"), and Jesus' name is abused 10 or so times. Characters make several obscene gestures.

Drug and Alcohol Content

Deadpool smokes cigarettes, igniting an explosive with one. He and others drink various types of liquor, and a couple of scenes take place in Weasel's bar.

Other Negative Elements

We're introduced to a white character named "Black Tom," a guy prone to cultural appropriation whose very presence becomes a running joke. When he dies, Deadpool's beside himself with grief. "You killed Black Tom, you racist son of a—" Well, you get the idea.

A couple jokes involve bathroom habits. Deadpool is inherently disrespectful and rude at times.

Conclusion

"I fight for what's right," Deadpool says. "And sometimes you gotta fight dirty." And so we have the official apology for this incredibly dirty, deeply problematic, strangely tender and occasionally clever superhero flick.

Deadpool 2 is all about salvation, really. "How long does it take to save a human soul?" Deadpool asks of Russell, even as Deadpool himself says he's working to get his heart in "the right place." On one level, this film could be looked at as a microcosm of our own need, the search for redemption in the midst of our own deep, ugly sins.

But there can be no redemption without repentance, and this is a deeply unrepentant film—one that glories in every bit of ill-concieved content as seems humanly possible to stuff into a two-hour movie. Deadpool 2, like its predecessor, doesn't just wallow in the depths of human depravity: It absolutely frolicks there, sporting a set of cute duck-print water wings to keep it afloat.

Look, I'm not blind to this film's sacrastic charms. But when they're so utterly enveloped by its excesses, I have little choice but to walk away.

You gotta fight dirty? I ain't buying it.

Pro-social Content

Objectionable Content

Summary Advisory

Plot Summary

Christian Beliefs

Other Belief Systems

Authority Roles

Profanity/Violence

Kissing/Sex/Homosexuality

Discussion Topics

Additional Comments/Notes

Credits

Rating

Readability Age Range

Author

Cast

Ryan Reynolds as Wade/Deadpool; Josh Brolin as Nathan Summers/Cable; Morena Baccarin as Vanessa; Julian Dennison as Russell; T.J. Miller as Weasel; Stefan Kapicic as Colossus (voice); Brianna Hildebrand as Negasonic Teenage Warhead; Zazie Beetz as Domino; Bill Skarsgård as Zeitgeist; Terry Crews as Bedlam; Lewis Tan as Shatterstar; Rob Delaney as Peter; Eddie Marsan as the schoolmaster; Leslie Uggams as Blind Al

Director

David Leitch ( )

Distributor

20th Century Fox

Network

Performance

Record Label

Platform

Publisher

In Theaters

May 18, 2018

On Video

August 21, 2018

Year Published

Awards

Reviewer

Paul Asay

Content Caution