Good, bloody, foul-mouthed fun, if perhaps not quite as good or fresh as the first Deadpool.
The first film was highly entertaining, offering a adaptation of the popular comic anti-hero/anti-villain that aimed to offer plenty of fun while roasting nearly everything about the world of now-ubiquitous comic book superhero movies. Deadpool found a great balance between providing a solid enough story and offering rousing action, while also consistently making fun of the tropes associated with the superhero genre. Amid all of this, it also managed to include just the right amount of appropriate heart, focusing on the twisted but touching relationship between assassin-for-hire Wade "Deadpool" Wilson and his ex-stripper girlfriend Vanessa.
In this sequel, the wildly irreverent tone and non-stop gags continue, mostly to good effect. Without giving anything important away, Deadpool finds himself wrapped up in a surprising bid to save the life of a young and very angry mutant, Russell (Julian Dennison). This all becomes much more difficult when a grim, highly powerful mutant from the future, Cable (Josh Brolin) becomes involved. Unable to deal with everything on his own, Deadpool enlists the aid of a few other mutants who may be familiar to readers of the 1990s and 2000s X-Force comics.
I was probably most impressed at how Deadpool 2 avoids most of the pitfalls of comedy sequels (and really, Deadpool was much more a comedy than anything else). Namely, leaning too heavily on the most well-received jokes from the first movie. Yes, the sequel does call back to a few of the best gags from the first one, but it mostly relies on coming up with new material. I do feel that one marginal but memorable character from the original movie is overused in the follow-up, but it's hardly a deal-breaker. The other problem many sequels can have, comedy and action alike, is retreading plots and ideas from a successful first film. Deadpool 2 does well with this, offering a story that is quite different from the first movie. I can't say that it provides any more depth than the first film, but the theme does give something different from the straightforward revenge/rescue tale of Deadpool.
I've already seen one or two comments on social media expressing the view that the humor in Deadpool 2 is "trying too hard." I understand the sentiment, but I disagree. The Deadpool character of the comics was always a motor-mouthed wise-cracker. Wade Wilson never shuts up, and the movie writers and Ryan Reynolds have always loved and respected this. As such, both movies have given us an endless barrage of verbal jabs from "The Merc with a Mouth." Given the sheer volume of jokes, it's always stood to reason to me that not every one of them will be a great joke, and sometimes not even good one. But for me, about half of them land pretty well. Since the frequency of wisecracks was so very high, I found myself with a smile on my face for most of the movie, even laughing out loud several times. This sequel does go a bit heavier on the "meta," fourth-wall-breaking commentary, which I think works better in lighter doses, as in the first film. It hardly spoils the soup that is the sequel, though.
The action in the movie is also entertaining enough, if not exactly standout. Like the overall plot, the filmmakers didn't rest on the laurels of the first film, and instead offer us newer and grander action sequences here. As with any superhero movie, we viewers want to see dazzling displays of the characters' fantastic abilities, and Deadpool 2 does a fine job of it, despite there only being a handful of truly stunning and exciting moments.
It's pretty simple: your feelings about the first Deadpool can tell you whether you'll enjoy the second. Though the plot and primary theme are different, the tone, irreverent attitude, and loving embrace of filthy language and cartoon-like gore are all there to attract or revolt just as much as the original.
A few thoughts on specific details:
I know better than to overthink any story which uses time travel as a device, especially in a silly movie like Deadpool 2, but I'm surprised that the hyper-aware, fourth-wall breaking Wilson didn't at least comment on the fact that Cable's altering the future by not killing Russell would result in Cable's never having been there in the first place. But again, thinking about time loops is an exercise in futility. I won't lose any sleep over it.
I actually liked the decision to kill Vanessa early, as I really didn't see it coming. Kind of a shame that they just went ahead and undid it all at the end, using Cable's aforementioned, plot-breaking time travel gadget.
The assembly and rapid demise of "X-Force" was hilarious. The movie actually got me on this one, as I genuinely thought that this would be a team that would carry through the rest of the film. Having nearly all of them, including mainstay characters from the comics such as Shatterstar, meet grisly deaths not ten minutes after their introductions, was a high-point idea to me.
Also from the X-Force mini-plotline, Zazie Beets was great as Domino. I only recently became aware of Beetz from her role as Van in the brilliant TV show Atlanta, but her portrayal of the luck-imbued mutant in Deadpool 2 was a blast.
I thought the inclusion of Dopinder was unnecessary and mostly not very funny. This was the one clear case of a sequel taking a fun little bit from the first film and running it well into the ground by asking way too much of it.
This was, by far, the best rendering of The Juggernaut that we've seen. I know that this isn't saying much, as really the only previous one was the laughable presentation in X-Men 3: X-Men United - the one which gave us the oft-lambasted Vinnie Jones line "I'm the Juggernaut, bitch!" While this new one is a purely CGI-job, we did at least get the sense of the character's real presence as an unstoppable physical force of unbridled, violent destruction. It also gave us the hilariously operatic theme music, featuring lyrics like "You can't stop this motherf****r!!" along with the background chorus of "Holy! S**tballs!!" on repeat. I can't recall a movie where the over-the-top, epic soundtrack was included in the gag.
Josh Brolin was great as Cable. The writers did a pretty decent job of using his overly grim demeanor as a foil for Deadpool's utter lack of seriousness, though I do feel a few jokes might have been left on the table with this dynamic.
The mid-credit sequence of Deadpool jumping back in time to right the wrongs of the past was outstanding. One has to admire just how self-deprecating Reynolds can be. He clearly has no problem highlighting past failings, if it might get a laugh.