Bro-Reviews: Mission: Impossible – Fallout

The most impossible mission yet.

Star driven action franchises are far and few between nowadays in Hollywood, no thanks in part to the comic book film craze and every studios’ desire to create a cinematic universe. One star driven action franchise that has stood the tests of time has been “Mission: Impossible”, an action vehicle starring Hollywood stalwart and everyone’s favorite couch jumper, Tom Cruise, based on the popular television show of the same name that aired from 1966 through 1973. To put it in perspective, the first “Mission: Impossible” was released back in 1996, and has seen numerous sequels over the last two decades. The latest sequel, “Mission: Impossible – Fallout”, has crashed into theaters with the promise of being the most action packed mission there is, but does the film live up to its “impossible” name?

Two years after the capture of “The Syndicate” leader, Solomon Lane (Sean Harris),  the leftovers of “The Syndicate” have reformed into a new organization called “The Apostles”, whose mission is to cause catastrophic terror on a global scale. Their mission becomes a more of a possibility after the IMF’s (Impossible Mission Force) Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) and his team fail to capture three plutonium cores to members of the group for their new client, John Lark. With the fate of the world at risk, Hunt must unwillingly team up with C.I.A. assassin August Walker (Henry Cavill), whose orders are to kill Hunt and his team should they fall out of line, before the world experiences a global catastrophe.

film-review-mission-impossible-fallout_cd0b1524-9181-11e8-a4ad-b76a55df4e8b
Tom Cruise in “Mission: Impossible – Fallout”

What has made the “Mission: Impossible” series last as long as it has is its willingness to up the ante with its action sequences. “Fallout” unequivocally lives up to its “Impossible” name with its prolonged action sequences, including a tremendous sky diving through a storm scene, a bathroom brawl, thrilling car chases through France, and numerous standoffs. Perhaps the most thrilling sequence of the film occurs at the films climax, a helicopter chase in Kashmir that truly epitomizes an impossible mission.  But even at two-and-a-half hours, the film operates at a brisk pace, thanks mostly in part to the non-stop action. It’s clear Christopher McQuarrie, who previously directed Cruise in 2012’s “Jack Reacher” and 2015’s “Mission: Impossible: Rogue Nation”, has an eye for thrilling action sequences, and should see more work come his way with another showing of his masterful direction.

Tom Cruise has had a legendary Hollywood career that spans nearly four decades, and his trademark intensity and snarky quips remain as effective as ever. Cruise may be the film’s star, but it’s Cruise’s willingness to perform his own stunts during the action sequences that takes center stage adding an element of vulnerability to this mission. You’ll gasp and cringe at every blow Cruise’s Hunt takes throughout, making the film even more effective in its thrills. Cruise doesn’t hog the spotlight like the first two “Mission: Impossible” outings, however, as Ving Rhames, Simon Pegg, Alec Baldwin, and Rebecca Ferguson all return and contribute to the mission, making the film the closest adaptation to the iconic television series yet. If anyone in the cast doesn’t quite deliver, it’s Cavill, and while it’s clear Cavill isn’t much of an actor, his physically imposing presence contributes well to the film’s action.

“Mission: Impossible – Fallout” lives up to its title name. Its director somehow outdoes himself with more impossible feats of action direction, making it the most action-packed film in the series. Its star may have a death wish as it pertains to performing the dangerous stunts, but it lends itself well to this thrill ride that sees every member of the cast/ team contribute in a memorable fashion.”Mission: Impossible – Fallout” is an adrenaline rush that operates at a brisk pace that will undoubtedly thrill audiences, making it the most impossible mission in the franchise.

Rating: 3.5 out of 4 stars. Pay full price.

“Mission: Impossible – Fallout” stars Tom Cruise, Henry Cavill, Ving Rhames, Simon Pegg, Rebecca Ferguson, Sean Harris, Vanessa Kirby, Wes Bentley, Angela Basset, Michelle Monaghan, and Alec Baldwin. It is in theaters now.

Advertisements

Bro-Reviews: Skyscraper

Die Hard with a Plastic Leg.

Over the years, Hollywood has had the tendency to churn-out copy cats of popular blockbusters, chief among them 1988’s “Die Hard.” “Speed” was “Die Hard” on a bus. “Under Siege” was “Die Hard” on a boat.  “Sudden Death” was “Die Hard” on one of the biggest sports stages, the Stanley Cup Finals. “Air Force One” was “Die Hard” on a plane. “Snakes on a Plane” was “Die Hard” on a plane, with snakes. But what happens when you combine “Die Hard” with another beloved Hollywood blockbuster like 1974’s “The Towering Inferno”, add in the most popular action star Dwayne Johnson and take away one of his legs just to seemingly make it a fair fight? You get “Skyscraper”, Dwayne Johnson’s latest vehicle in an attempt to become this generation’s Schwarzenegger.

Johnson stars as Will Sawyer, a former FBI   Hostage Rescue Team leader and U.S. war veteran turned security accessor for skyscrapers after a rescue mission leaves him with an amputated leg but is fitted with modern prosthetic leg. Sawyer is tasked with accessing “The Pearl”, the tallest building in the world located in Hong Kong, China built by Zhao Long Ji (Chin Han) designed to be a literal city in the sky. However, Chin has something on terrorist kingpin Kores Botha (Roland Møller), who unleashes a plot involving setting “The Pearl” on fire in order to attain what Han has on him. With Swayer’s wife Sarah (Neve Campbell) and kids trapped inside, Sawyer must scale the building to save his family before the building comes crumbling down. 

“Skyscraper” is undoubtedly a retread of the aforementioned “Die Hard” combined with the aforementioned “The Towering Inferno” with current action star of the moment Dwayne Johnson in nearly every single frame of the film. Unfortunately, the film comes across as a tired knock-off of the two, and with Mr. Johnson already appearing in the zanier “Rampage” earlier this year in which he teams up with an giant albino gorilla to fight a giant flying wolf, seeing the seemingly invulnerable Johnson scale a building to save his family seems unimaginative and unimpressive. It doesn’t help matters the film is clearly pandering to a Chinese film audience in the hopes of obtaining high box office receipts, which appears to be plaguing the industry with the release of each new film every week.

1531427002-skyscraper
Dwayne Johnson in “Skyscraper.”

Dwayne Johnson is s more than capable action star, and his turn as Sawyer marks one of his finer solo performances. The rest of the characters in the film, however, are reduced to types. Neve Campbell has proven she’s a decent actress, but her role as Swayers wife doesn’t rise above “the wife”. Chin Han’s Ji is nothing more than the eccentric Asian architect with a secret, while many of his Asian co-stars serve as the pandering to China pieces that will hopefully entice people of that nation to see the film. Roland Møller comes across worst as the film’s main villain, a terrorist who believes having an accent constitutes as having a personality.

Working in the film’s favor, however, is just how ridiculous the action is. The further the film devolves into Johnson, best known as his WWE persona “The Rock”, attempting impossible feats of ability on one leg, the more fun “Skyscraper” becomes. Can the Rock defeat an adversary who pulls off his prosthetic leg? Can the Rock jump into the building off a crane while being shot at? Can the Rock dead-lift a bridge to hold it steady for his family to make it across safely? Can the the Rock use the magical powers of duct tape to tip toe his way around the outside of the building? Can the Rock climb up his prosthetic currently entangled in rope and climb that same rope and pull up his leg in time to get into a safe-house door? It’s ridiculous moments like these that make “Skyscraper” enjoyable if one is willing to go along for the ride, and those who do will find the humor necessary to enjoy the film.

“Skyscraper” may be a clone of a clone that lacks any sort of distinction from the films it borrows from, but it’s a rare star vehicle that can be enjoyed. If one abides by Johnson’s/ The Rock’s line “This is stupid” during the film’s over-the-top action sequences, then you’re in for a good time. “Skyscraper” may not be reinventing the wheel in the action genre, but it’s perfectly fine star vehicle that coasts off being “Die Hard” with a Plastic Leg.

Rating: 2.5 out of 4 stars. Pay low matinée price.

“Skyscraper” stars Dwayne Johnson, Neve Campbell, Chin Han, Roland Møller, Noah Taylor, Byron Mann, Pablo Schreiber, and Hannah Quinlivan. It is in theaters now. 

Bro-Reviews: Escape Plan 2: Hades

No escape. No plan. Mostly hell.

Despite a brief resurgence at the start of this decade, by 2013 the teaming up of old action stars had lost its luster considerably. This did not stop Sylvester Stallone and Arnold Schwarzenegger from making their long awaited team up in the underrated “Escape Plan”, and while many praised the two’s chemistry, the film underperformed considerably at the North American box office. The film did big business overseas, however, including a $40 million haul in China, the largest overseas market. With the tease of a sequel at the end of the first film, Stallone has taken it upon himself to cash in on a rising foreign movie market while still maintaining a presence in North America with the direct-to-video sequel “Escape Plan 2: Hades” and create his latest franchise in the process. 

“Escape Plan 2: Hades” sees Stallone returning as Ray Breslin, a prison escape artist expert who has found a way to monetize this unique skill with his company. After a hostage job gone bad, Breslin’s apprentice, Shu Ren (Xiaoming Huang) takes time away from the company to protect his cousin Yusheng (Chen Teng), a satellite tech millionaire with a target on his back. When the two go missing and wake up in an undetectable prison called Hades, it’s up to Breslin and his associates, consisting of up and comer Luke (Jesse Metcalfe), tech expert Hush (Curtis Jackson), and punishing weapons expert Trent DeRosa (Dave Bautista), to locate them and plan another escape from a seemingly inescapable prison.

Marketing for “Escape Plan 2: Hades” would leave you to believe Stallone and Bautista are the focus of the film. But if you had watched the trailer closely and paid attention to other direct-to-video films that boast A-list stars, you’d know this isn’t the case. This is Chinese star Xiaoming Huang’s movie, as he subs in for Stallone. While Huang isn’t much of a screen presence due to struggling with his English, he’s capable of delivering good action with his martial arts background, which suffices enough for the least demanding of action fans. 

That’s not to say Stallone isn’t in the movie much, he just takes more of a secondary role in the film. He gets his time with a few action sequences, and the film attempts to make up for his lack of screen time with Huang by having him be a voiceover that acts as Shu’s thought process of planning an escape. It’s Dave Bautista who feels underused most in the film, but he seems resigned to cash in this check while waiting for his next Marvel project as Drax.

escape-plan-2_3a-hades-_1050_591_81_s_c1
Sylvester Stallone in “Escape Plan 2: Hades”

Jesse Metcalfe barely resonates as a beefy rookie in the film as he attempts to recapture his “Desperate Houswives” fame. One can barely tell the difference between Metcalfe and Wes Chatham’s Jasper Kimbral, another member of Breslin’s team whose arch is beyond predictable. Jamis King doesn’t even reach eye candy level that’s how much of an afterthought she is, and it’s obvious rapper turned actor Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson needs to pay a few bills by reprising his role from the first film. The only one who gets anything out of his small role isTitus Welliver, who seems to be enjoying himself as the villainous “zookeeper” of Hades.

The film has all the trappings of a direct to video film: bad acting, laughable special effects, and choppy editing. While the action itself is somewhat competent, it’s the film’s underused premises and lack of explanation that truly made it destined for life on the direct to VOD market. A group of hackers called “Legion”, who appear to be pale rejects from “Mad Max: Fury Road” and speak only one phrase just because, and the prison’s system of selecting which days are fights days and why they are doing so has little rhyme or reason. There are numerous times you’ll have to stop the film and ask aloud “Wait, what?”, and at times you yourself will ask how it took one movie studio and five production companies to make this film.

Other than a nice way for Stallone to add to his grandchildren’s college funds, there’s a reason why “Escape Plan 2: Hades” wasn’t released in theaters. Despite an inkling of an interesting idea, the film is a largely bland and derivative sequel that makes the first film look like a masterpiece by comparison. Stallone die-hards and undemanding action fans may find something worthwhile, but most will be left without an escape and without a plan, languishing in movie hell. 

Rating: 1.5 out of 4 stars: Rent it.

“Escape Plan 2: Hades” Stars Sylvester Stallone, Dave Bautista, Xiaoming Huang, Jamie King, Jesse Metcalfe, Wes Chatham, Tyron Woodley, Chen Teng, Titus Wellive, and Curtis Jackson. It is available on Blu-ray, DVD, and VOD now.

Bro-Reviews: Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom

More a Jurassic World theme park ride than a movie.

Back in 2015, the arrival of “Jurassic World” was a historic one. It had been nearly a decade and a half since the much maligned “Jurassic Park 3”, and eager audiences paid their hard earned dollar in droves in en route to the largest opening weekend of all time (for 6 months) and one of the highest opening weekends of all time. With the dinosaurs once again becoming a money printer for the studio, a sequel was greenlit quickly, and three years since the world welcomed its return, the park has reopened once again for “Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom.”

Three years after the events of “Jurassic: World”, a group of mercenaries funded by the estate of John Hammond’s former partner, Benjamin Lockwood (James Cromwell), has extracted remains from Isla Nublar, the park’s abandoned island,  despite push-back from the US Government and mathematician Dr. Ian Malcolm (Jeff Goldblum). The park’s former operations manager, Claire Dearing (Bryce Dallas Howard), is contacted by Lockwood’s aide, Eli Mills (Rafe Spall), to partake in a mission to relocate the remaining dinosaurs to a new sanctuary, including the velociraptor Blue. Despite initial rejection, Claire’s former flame and velociraptor trainer, Owen Grady (Chris Pratt), partakes in the mission as well. The two discover the Lockwood estate’s plans are not the virtuous mission it was pitched as, and must find a way to stop the estate from taking the cloning of the extinct creatures to a point of no return. 

“Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom” isn’t so much a movie as it is a theme park ride, much like one you’d see at the Universal Studios resort. Though it gets off to a slow start after its action packed opening, the film’s first act is a non-stop action thrill ride filled to the brim with scientific impossibilities, explosions, chases, and most importantly, dinosaurs. This undoubtedly is the high point of the movie, and once the film leaves the self titled “Fallen Kingdom”, it somehow devolves into even more preposterous territory.

merlin_139639287_cf6a5ec4-c6d5-41bb-a299-e6e4adc730fe-articleLarge
Chris Pratt in “Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom.”

The second and third acts of “Fallen Kingdom” may take place mostly on the Lockwood estate, but attempt to tackle the similar issues its predecessor dealt with, namely the introduction of a new super dinosaur that could one day be used not only as an attraction, but a weapon. There’s a tinge of Universal’s classic monster horror films in there with the dinosaurs lurking within the creepy, tucked away estate in Northern California, but it’s much too silly to truly generate scares for anyone over the age of 8 years old. Other interesting theories and conflicts arise such as the endangered species and cloning dilemmas, along with asking the question of if the creators and trainers of such clones are just as responsible as the ones who are selling and exploiting the creatures, but they’re half baked ideas that are largely forgotten for humans versus dinosaurs al la “Home Alone” style. 

Chris Pratt seems to be using these films as an audition tape to become the next Indiana Jones, and while a capable action star with presence, still hasn’t grown much as an actor. Bryce Dallas Howard manages to be more of a force than a damsel in distress in the last film, but her idealism of the extinct creatures despite evidence proving they should remain extinct is beyond eye rolling. The mysterious child of the Lockwood estate, played by Isabella Sermon, never rises above annoying kid in movie status, while Rafe Spall, Toby Jones, and Ted Levine all sleepwalk through their villainous roles. Goldblum barely gets out of his chair at a senate hearing to collect a paycheck, while James Cromwell would like you to hold his beer as he barely gets out of bed for his. 

“Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom” isn’t necessarily a let down, but a sequel made because of a surging of 90s nostalgia that has yet to die down. With the heat of the summer upon us, audiences will look to “Fallen Kingdom” as an escape for summer pop-corn fun, which it is more then capable of being. But for a film that actually raises interesting questions that remain pertinent to today’s society, it’s a shame “Fallen Kingdom” plays it relatively safe and settles for dumb summer fun. 

Rating: 2.5 out of 4 stars. Pay low matinée price.

“Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom” stars Chris Pratt, Bryce Dallas Howard, Rafe Spall, Justice Smith, Daniella Pineda, James Cromwell, Toby Jones, Ted Levine, B.D. Wong, Isabella Sermon, Geraldine Chaplin, and Jeff Goldblum. It is in theaters now.

Bro-Reviews: Incredibles 2

Not so incredible.

It’s been nearly a decade and a half since the release of “The Incredibles”, one of Pixar’s top films according to most. While some may argue the film told the story it wanted to tell and wrapped it up nicely, many craved for a sequel. It didn’t help that other Pixar films also got overdue sequels in the meantime, such as “Monsters University”, the prequel to “Monster’s Inc.”, “Finding Dory”, the sequel to “Finding Nemo”, and “Toy Story 3”, the third film in the beloved franchise and the one that started it all for Pixar. Brad Bird, the director of the first “Incredibles”, heard the fans’ cries for a sequel, and over a decade later, Mr. and Mrs. Incredible, Dash, Violet, Jack Jack, Edna Mode, and Frozone have all found their super suits for one last shot at superhero glory in “Incredibles 2.”

“Incredibles 2” picks up right where the first film ended, with the Parrs/ Incredibles doing battle with “The Underminer”. After a lengthy battle that causes damage to the city, the Parrs/ Incredibles and all other Supers are forced to adhere to their secret identities due to the authority’s concern over the level of damage caused. However, Bob/ Mr. Incredible (voiced by Craig T. Nelson), Helen/ Elastigirl (voiced by Helen Hunt), and Lucius Best/ Frozone (voiced by Samuel L. Jackson) are approached by Wisnton Deavor (voiced by Bob Odenkirk), the owner of telecommunications company and super hero fanatic who wants to bring supers back into the spotlight under a positive image. With Deavor suggesting Elastigirl should be the first to test his strategy and fight crime, Bob finds himself struggling with the day to day duties of being a father to his daughter Violet (voiced by Sarah Vowell), his son Dash (voiced by Huck Milner), and infant son Jack Jack (voiced by Eli Fucile), all the while a new nemesis arises, “The Screenslaver”.

At this point, there is very little in the way of slowing down the Pixar machine. Pixar’s animation continues to be the envy of all animation studios, as “Incredibles 2” features their trademark crisp, clear, and colorful animation. One of the more impressive feats in the animation in this film is just how busy and action packed it all is. For a studio that has built its reputation on family friendly vehicles, one could mistake “Incredibles 2” for an animated version of Marvel’s “Fantastic Four” property, as it’s definitely the most violent and action oriented Pixar film to date. This should please most audiences, and it’s worth noting just how high of a bar Pixar has set the animation standard with its latest money printer.

i2-rgb-z102_452_cs_pub.pub16.321_wide-6b5c9ab161588b41391ee2f443863f3f22c44fc4-s900-c85
Helen Hunt, Eli Fucile, and Craig T. Nelson in “Incredibles 2”.

The voice cast does an excellent job once again. Helen Hunt’s southern twang lends itself incredibly well to Elastigirl, as she is a standout in the film. Craig T. Nelson also gets mileage out of playing an exhausted father dealing with the pitfalls of being a stay at home parent, a welcome change from the traditional family roles we’ve grown accustomed to seeing in film. Veteran actors Bob Odenkirk and Catherine Keener, who voices Deavor’s technologically gifted sister, Evelyn, also do a fine job in their roles as a dynamic brother and sister business duo. Sarah Vowell’s Violet stands out of the Parr’s/ Incredible’s children as an angsty, moody teenager dealing with the perils of adolescence, but Jack Jack does get his due in the film as well.

Unfortunately, despite the near decade and a half wait for the film, “Incredibles 2” comes up disappointingly short. Whereas the first “Incredibles” told the story of a family finally coming together and accepting their differences (*along with a harrowing premonition of how fanatic/ fanboy culture will invade society), “Incredibles 2” feels like a sequel made to cash in, similar to Pixar’s weaker films such as the “Cars” follow-ups. The film definitely has the attitude of “bigger is better”, and while its action sequences are impressive and at first thrilling, they are far too long and lose steam after a while. A subplot involving other, less notable Supers goes nowhere, and the film’s twist is beyond predictable. Other than the film’s gender norms reversal, there isn’t anything that new or inventive here, a disappointingly hallow result considering Pixar’s impressive track record.

While “Incredibles 2” has its moments, the near decade and a half follow up to the first film fails to meet expectations. Despite a great voice cast and expert animation, “Incredibles 2” suffers from the dreaded disease known as “sequelitis”, as the filmmakers have forgone a gripping story in favor of prolonged action sequences that lose your attention they longer they drag on. Despite its titular name, “Incredibles 2” is far from incredible.

Rating: 2.5/4 stars. Pay low matinée price.

“Incredibles 2” stars Craig T. Nelson, Helen Hunt, Sarah Vowell, Huck Milner, Eli Fucile, Samuel L. Jackson, Bob Odenkirk, Catherine Keener, and Brad Bird. It is in theaters now.

Bro-Reviews: Hereditary

The horrors of family.

Every year there seems to be a darling film that arises from the festival circuit. 2018’s film festival darling was “Hereditary”, a midnight screening at the Sundance Film Festival that was met with rave reviews. Some have even gone as far to say it’s the scariest movie of all time, but does the film live up to the hype it received back in the winter? 

“Hereditary” sees Annie Graham (Toni Collette), a diorama artist, grieving from the loss of her mother, a private woman who seems to have been very popular within the community. After her death, Annie’s family, consisting of husband Steve (Gabriel Byrne), son Peter (Alex Wolff) and daughter Charlie (Milly Shapiro), begin to experience a series of strange behavioral changes and freak occurrences. This leads Annie to investigate the meaning behind these occurrences and their relation to her mother’s death. 

While maybe not “the scariest movie ever” as the hype would have you believe, “Hereditary” is the scariest movie to be released in quite some time. This is thanks in part due to Ari Aster, making his feature film directorial debut, and his ability to create tension throughout the film. The films use of quiet and the dark creates such tension, leaving you gripping your chair’s arms and at the edge of your seat. Tension also undoubtedly arises from the wide arrange of emotions the Graham family is experiencing, as their drama builds to the point of near explosion numerous times. The family’s off putting mannerisms also helps build a sense of uneasiness throughout, particularly Milly Shapiro, whose turn as Charlie is nothing short of captivating.

One other aspect of ”Hereditary” that perhaps has resonated with people most is the film’s imagery. The film boasts some of the creepiest, goriest imagery throughout, especially towards its hellish climax. Some may not find the film’s use of such imagery scary, but it undoubtedly will creep back into your mind as you attempt to sleep and will keep you awake all night. 

ered5
Toni Collette in “Hereditary”.

Toni Collette gives an awards worthy turn as Annie, as her emotional depth is unlike one we’ve seen in art house horror. Gabriel Byrne gets plenty of mileage out of a seemingly thankless straight man role, Ann Dowd is a scene stealer as a friend of the family, and Alex Wol shows he’s a star in the making coming off the success of “Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle”. 

Like all horror movies, however, there will be those who have a bone to pick. The strange occurrences surrounding the family will leave plenty asking why don’t they notice something that is obviously peculiar. The film’s climax will have some asking why would you do that/ why wouldn’t they do this instead, but these are tropes that we should be accustomed to and prevent you from being in the moment. If you are able to be in the moment with these characters, you along with the characters of “Hereditary” will leave the theater scarred in fashion or another.

“Hereditary” is an art house horror masterpiece. Its use of familiar horror elements builds a sense of terrifying for the unknown that will leave you horrified and regretting your curiosity. It may not scare all and live up to the hype of “scariest movie ever”, but “Hereditary” will frighten you and leave you restlessly disturbed.

Rating: 3/4 stars. Pay full price.

“Hereditary” stars Toni Collette, Gabriel Byrne, Alex Wolff, Milly Shapiro, and Ann Dowd. It is in theaters now.

Bro-Reviews: Deadpool 2

A funny, albeit not as fresh, worthy sequel.

Flashback to February of 2016, a time where comic book movies were in a strange place. Most of them took themselves too seriously, and Marvel had hit a bit of a lull with the disappointing results of “Avengers: Age of Ultron.” This was also a time when the team-up of DC Comic’s biggest heroes in “Batman V. Superman: Dawn of Justice” seemed like a sure thing. Meanwhile, audiences were welcomed by “Deadpool”, a fourth-wall breaking, quipping, Spider-Man looking superhero that was the least beacon of hope for Ryan Reynold’s career. Most importantly, it was the first mainstream R-rated comic book movie in nearly a decade, with the prevailing wisdom that such movies couldn’t be made and be financial and critical successes. “Deadpool” more than bicked the trend, it destroyed it, as the film went on to becoming the highest grossing R-rated film of all time and was beloved by critics and audiences alike. Neatly two-and-a-half years later, the long awaited sequel, “Deadpool 2”, has finally arrived in theaters, hoping to capitalize on the successes of the first film.

“Deadpool 2” sees the return of Wade Wilson/ Deadpool (Ryan Reynolds), who continues life being the “Merc with a Mouth” as a contract killing anti-hero. While assisting in a mission with X-Men allies Colossus (Stefan Kapičić) and Negasonic Teenage Warhead (Brianna Hildebrand), he encounters a troubled youth named Russell Collins/ Firefist (Julian Dennison), who is being hunted by futuristic time traveler Cable (Josh Brolin). With Cable after Russell due to his dooming visions of the future involving the fiery mutant, its up to Deadpool to stop Cable and rescue Russell in order to alter the youth’s future.

Needless to say, Ryan Reynolds remains born to play the “Merc with a Mouth”, as his fourth wall breaking, foul-mouthed quips, and self deprecating humor distinguishes the character as one of the most memorable in the Marvel cannon. Even though we know what to expect from the character, Reynolds is also able to give Wilson enough humanity to make us empathize with him, something that even the Marvel Studios films tend to overlook in their sequels. His willingness to also make fun of his previous comic book movie sins also retain hilarity, and pay big dividends in the film.

Josh Brolin’s Cable may not be nearly as complex as Thanos, but he’s still able to deliver a solid performance as the antagonistic and physically threatening nemesis. Zazie Beetz’s Domino is also a welcome addition, as her comedic timing and screen presence make her a strong female hero that many will find relatable, and her star should undoubtedly rise to new heights after her turn in the film.

af0212_pubstill_01_R_rgb.0
Ryan Reynolds in “Deadpool 2”.

The action is definitely bigger this time around and has more CGI effects behind them. While still not a mega-budgeted comic book film despite the success of the first film, “Deadpool 2” has thrilling action that although sometimes strains its budget, still flows nicely thanks to director David Leitch. Leitch previously helmed “John Wick” and “Atomic Blonde”, and his star continues to rise as one of the best action directors in the business thanks to his capable direction.

While the humor definitely reeks of repeating itself and isn’t nearly as fresh the second-go-around, “Deadpool 2” is still quite funny. Sure, it follows many of the same tropes of the same genre it expertly made fun of in the first film, but its willingness to level with the audience and call itself out on its own storytelling makes it one of the most honest film franchises around.

The unfortunate fate the film suffers like many of its counterparts is a case of sequelitis. Not only do the filmmakers believe bigger is better, but the story is merely an afterthought and derivative of previous movie sequels. This leads to the underdevelopment and downright unlikability of Julian Dennison‘s Russell/ Firefist, who comes across as a mutant with fiery powers doing a impersonation of Rebel Wilson, not the desired result when considering the character’s troubled backstory.

Deadpool 2 at times comes across as a cash grabbing sequel it critiques, but as one of the few films willing to take risks with its R-rated thrills and jokes and isn’t afraid to communicate with its audience, it works more often than not. It’s clear Reynolds and company have love for the character and desire to continue on as the near antithesis of mega-budgeted films, but it the sequel can’t help but follow the same tried and true path as other comic book movie sequels. “Deadpool 2” may have its flaws, but its still a rousing good laugh and thrill ride that suffers the unfortunate fate of having to live up to the expectations of its groundbreaking predecessor, a fate even Deadpool himself could quip endlessly to his audience about.

Rating: 3 out of 4 stars. Pay matinée price.

“Deadpool 2” stars Ryan Reynolds, Josh Brolin, Morena Baccarin, Julian Dennison, Zazie Beetz, TJ Miller, Brianna Hildebrand, Stefan Kapičić, and Eddie Marsan. It is in theaters now.