The superhero genre has been around since the inception of feature-length films, but things have developed into a supercharged money grab over the last two decades. The quality has improved with varied levels of success with the Marvel Universe and the DC Universe remaining at the forefront of this comic-book influenced realm of filmmaking. Even with the complement of ever-improving computer generation, the vast majority of the plot-lines tend toward the predictable thread of the good guy versus the bad guy in a heated battle for the salvation or domination of a major metropolis or the world. Then comes along something that redefines and breaks through the formulaic wall or in relationship to Deadpool it means bursting through the wall with caustic humour and a multitude of means of killing people.
If Superman epitomises everything that people would want their child to represent in life, Deadpool is the antithesis. Wade Wilson (Ryan Reynolds) is less a hero than a disfigured, mentally deeply disturbed, foul-mouthed and painfully self-aware anti-hero. His tendency to utilise humour as his first line of defence and the brilliant use of breaking the ‘fourth-wall’ in the comics and the subsequent films makes him one of the most refreshing and exciting superheroes within this modern era. Unfortunately, his flexible morality and creative use of the English language also makes him one of the most unedifying figures within this realm of fictional characters.
The thrust of the script builds around Wade Wilson dealing with a relational situation that irrevocably changes his life’s priorities and perspective, leaving him to attempt to become part of the X-men. In his indoctrination into the legendary band of mutants, he realises that he is connected to Russell Collins (Julian Dennison), a troubled mutant who is trying to escape an abusive school for those with unique powers. His involvement with the troubled teen escalates when the time-travelling assassin, Cable (Josh Brolin) begins to hunt down the young fire starter. This situation is the catalyst for Deadpool to forgo attempting to become an X-men and to develop his own team of unsuspecting warriors called the X-force. After bringing together this motley crew, they are given the responsibility of protecting the juvenile delinquent from his future nemesis. The unlikely team work together to attempt to save Russell, keep him from following a darker path in life and to provide catharsis for the masked scarlet mutant in his time of heartache.
The latest instalment of Deadpool 2 presents a bit of a problem. This chapter is better than the original and delves into a more personal side of the ‘Merc with a mouth’ by forcing him to confront grief, being a role model and his mortality. Then it counterbalances these dramatic elements with excessive violence, extremely coarse language, and a multitude of sexual innuendo that rides the fence of hilarity and extreme discomfort. This reviewer is left with a recommendation conundrum.
For those who are drawn into the cinemas by the brilliant viral marketing and all that the trailers promise of this follow-up to the smash hit, they will be surprised and pleased. Ryan Reynolds has found his sweet spot for self-deprecation and humour that has come to define his career. With tongue firmly placed in his cheek, it is understandable why he desires to break new ground for this genre and his character, in a class of films that are experiencing a certain level of fatigue. His alter-ego provides an outlet for all who want to bring the jokes of the locker room out into the general populace without apology. It is this grey area of storytelling that the juxtaposition lies within this franchise.
Despite all of the creative writing, incredible usage of special effects, cheeky and well-timed cameos and the barrier-breaking method of filmmaking, Deadpool 2 is difficult to recommend. There is no denying that the quality of the production stretches the conventions of this genre, but the cinematic quality is not enough to lift this to be an acceptable film. Even with the inclusion of the family element, which seems to be more of a dig at the Fast & the Furious franchise than something to be taken seriously, this morally ambiguous character and storyline work against everything that makes for a liveable and appealing society. At the risk of being ostracised by all within the cinematic community, Deadpool 2 is impossible for this critic to endorse.
(This film contains strong violence and language throughout, sexual references and brief drug material)
REEL DIALOGUE: How do you determine morality?
In amongst the humour and the action, Deadpool opens the door on the discussion of morality. The script is hilarious, but will leave many people with a heightened level of discomfort when laughing at many of the on-screen antics. The moral ambiguity of the plot is disconcerting, because many of the things that provide laughs would not have been included in any script a decade ago. Suicide, paedophilia, homosexuality, genitalia, race and faith are all open targets for humour and push the boundaries of good taste.
In this world where everyone has an opinion about every moral topic, it has become critical to figure out how to answer the philosophical question of where to place our moral beliefs. One consideration should be to study the example and the words of Jesus. He is not merely a moral teacher, but a life changer. Considering his life and death will start a journey of determining how to define, morality, mortality and life. How do you start? Pick up one of the accounts of his life and see how God answers this multi-layered query with one man.
1. Can we find truth in this world? (John 14:6, 1 Corinthians 13:4-6)
2. Can we ever find justice? (Proverbs 21:15, Romans 12:19)
3. Is it possible to come out from under our circumstances? (Psalm 40:17, Romans 8:38-39)