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DEADPOOL 2: 4 STARS. “works both as a superhero flick and as a twisted family drama.”

“’Deadpool 2” is a family film,” says the main character, breaking the fourth wall, “and every family film begins with a murder. ‘Bambi.’ ‘Lion King.’ ‘Saw 7.” With the highest body count ever for a self-proclaimed family movie, it must be pointed out that it’s not for the family; it’s about family.

20th Century Fox has taken pains to keep the plot of the latest “Deadpool” under wraps. Their official synopsis mentions “a near fatal bovine attack,” the “dream of becoming Mayberry’s hottest bartender” and coping with “his lost sense of taste.” The only part of that which is true is the lost sense of taste. “Deadpool 2” is loud and proud, raunchy and profane and certainly lost any sense of taste (or decorum) in the planning stages.

There will be no spoilers here. I will tell you that between the fast n’ furious pop culture references is a story about a personal tragedy that leads Wade a.k.a. Deadpool a.k.a. the Merc with a Mouth (Ryan Reynolds) to try and off himself in spectacular fashion with a “cat nap on 1200 gallons of high-octane fuel.” Soon afterward, a troubled young mutant named Russell a.k.a. Firefist (Julian Dennison) enters his life. Unfortunately so does Cable (Josh Brolin), a time travelling cybernetic mutant soldier who refers to Deadpool as “an annoying clown dressed up as a sex toy.” He’s a handful determined to kill Russell. “You’re so dark,” Deadpool says to Cable, “are you sure you’re not from the DC universe?”

All this sets the stage for Deadpool’s great reckoning. With the help of a handful of X-Men, including Colossus (Stefan Kapičić) and Negasonic Teenage Warhead (Brianna Hildebrand), and his own team X-Force, he comes to understand the importance of family. “Family,” he says, “is not an f-word.”

Irreverence thy name is Deadpool. The Ryan Reynolds’ franchise is related to the Marvel and X-Men Universes but feels like he’s from a planet all his own. He talks directly to the audience, compares his box office to other movies and even comments on the action around him. “There’s a big CGI fight coming up,” he says, saving me the trouble of mentioning my least favourite aspect of the superhero genre. The jokes may not feel quite as fresh as they did the first time around but Reynolds, face covered under a mask 95% of the time, delivers the lines with pitch perfect delivery. Mixing one-liners with pop culture references—everything from “Yentl” to 007 to “Frozen”—he provides a running commentary that would be exhausting if not so gleefully delivered. Not all the jokes land and the Jared Kushner gag may age badly but Reynolds gets an A for effort.

“Deadpool 2” has all the elements of a summer superhero blockbuster. There’s action—directed by David Leitch, “one of the guys who killed the dog in John Wick.”—a conflicted villain—a territory Josh Brolin seems to be cornering—and some heavy franchise building. It also has something new, at least for the “Deadpool” movies and that’s humanity. It is the opposite of genteel but it gives the loudmouth lead an opportunity to grow as a character. It’s tough to follow up a movie as audacious as “Deadpool.” Fans have expectations and for the most part they are met. The jokes and the set pieces are bigger and badder but it’s the mushy stuff that prevents “Deadpool 2” from slipping solely into freak show mode. Add to that a credit scene (midway, not post credits) worth the price of admission and you’re left with a movie that works both as a superhero flick and as a twisted family drama.

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