Deadpool is back, and this time he’s got some friends, in the David Leitch directed Deadpool 2. All the meta humor, vulgarity, and violence one expects from the Merc with a Mouth is bigger this time around, because as any good comic book sequel knows, bigger means better. Well, at least that’s the studio mindset. Thankfully, Deadpool 2 doesn’t go for that old adage. But it does go all in on the Rob Liefeld universe, recruiting some more of his fan favorite characters for a superhero bonanza that is fun and heartfelt. In a lot of ways, Deadpool 2 is Home Alone and Back to the Future meets The Terminator, and that’s a great thing.

Director David Leitch is a visually stylish director, having co-directed the Keanu Reeves breakout hit John Wick, and it’s no surprise how he ended up getting the director’s chair this time around from former Deadpool director Tim Miller. Leitch brings a very particular 1980s action film aesthetic to the proceedings, but his action is infused with fun and humor, a perfect pairing with Deadpool as a character. Working off a script by Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick, Leitch seems to be having a fantastic time finding his own rhythm with the material, bringing even more over the top action to the proceedings than the first offered. In fact, the action in Deadpool 2 may be arguably one of the most insanely silly and violent films to come out in recent memory. Leitch and Co. don’t hold back on letting Deadpool kill the bad guys this time around, and we’re treated to some pretty great montages of violence that would make Robert Rodriguez and Quentin Tarantino proud.

However, it’s not just the action that makes the movie work though, but the characters as well. Ryan Reynolds continues to prove that he’s the living embodiment of Deadpool, perfectly capturing Wade’s quirks and ticks, while also finding a beating heart underneath the damaged antihero. But in this film, it’s Josh Brolin, who joins the series as the fan favorite character Cable, who really steals the show. Brolin is the Bud Abbott to Reynolds’ Lou Costello, but with a much heavier arsenal and body count in his wake. It’s never an easy feat to walk into a franchise like this and not only hold your own with the lead, but in many ways, steal the film from them. Cable really gives Brolin that chance though, and he just shines as the war-weary soldier from the future who has traveled back in time to prevent the future he knows from happening. There’s a real sincerity in the role, and you can tell that Brolin is having a great time as a part of this franchise. Not only is he a great action hero, but he’s a damn good comedian on top of it, making for a fantastic combo. The way Brolin spars with Reynolds throughout genuinely leads to some of the best moments in the film, and honestly, audiences are going to be clamoring for a Cable film when this is all said and done. Zazie Beetz is also a really wonderful addition to the series as Domino, the luckiest mutant alive. Much like Brolin, Beetz not only keeps up with Reynolds’ Deadpool, but finds ways to match him at every turn.

The only thing that holds Deadpool 2 back from being a truly fantastic offering is that the film starts to outstay its welcome towards the finale. As fast and furious as the jokes and action are, near the end of the third act, the film begins to run out of gas, feeling like it’s spun the wheels a little too long. Maybe it’s because the film really relies on the merry cast of characters it has over plot, which honestly is ok as it’s Deadpool after all, but it does lead to a bit of audience fatigue before we reach the end credits. That’s not an indictment on the film as a whole though, as this truly is a pretty clever script at times that really plays into what we expect from the superhero genre at this point. The fact that the film also plays into the family film genre is a nice twist, and trying to use that to humanize Wade was a stroke of brilliance. If the first film proved anything, it’s that Vanessa and Wade’s relationship was an incredibly important dynamic that made the film work, and thankfully the second film has found a new angle to capitalize on that very thing.

Deadpool 2 is one of the rare sequels that actually ends up being a worthy companion piece to the original. Though it may not be better than the first, that’s not really the intention. Instead, we’re given a film that builds off the first in a fun, new way. The fantastic additions of Josh Brolin and Zazie Beetz gives the film a new layer of fun that you can’t help but love. Director David Leitch also brings a new flare to the action, making Deadpool even more violent and fun than he was the first time. This will arguably be some of the most fun you’ll have in theaters all summer, and the set up for the future of Deadpool and his X-Force looks very bright.

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