THURSDAY, MAY 17, 2018 -- Actor Ryan Reynolds' career could easily be the punch line of many jokes, as so many of his films have been monumental least domestically. "Green Lantern" was his most popular flop as Warner Brothers bet $200 million in the production only to come well short of breaking even. But "R.I.P.D." was also a huge bust costing over $130 million and only grossing $33 million domestically ($78 million globally). "Blade: Trinity" was the only one of the franchise to lose money. "Buried" - one that I personally liked - only earned one million dollars domestically.


There were others including "Mississippi Grind" which earned only $130 thousand and is pretty much a trivia question. They same can be said about "The Nines" which also had Melissa McCarthy, Octavia Spencer and Elle Fanning in the cast; but the lead was to Reynolds. Remember the sci-fi movie "Life"; flop! "Foolproof", "Adventureland", and the animated film "Turbo" (which starred Reynolds' voice... flop, flop, flop. Yes there were a couple of films he co-starred in that made money, but be clear that "The Proposal" (with Sandra Bullock) and "Safehouse" (with Denzel Washington) turned a domestic profit because of them and not Reynolds.


Then came the original "Deadpool" (2016) and suddenly people find a film of his that they really like and makes money. It's full of action, has a superhero, and is very, very funny at the same time. And guess what? The funniest jokes are the first person jokes about Ryan Reynolds career flops. The film clocked $363 million domestically ($783 million globally) on a $58 million investment and suddenly Reynolds entire career is justified before he gets shipped off to the scrap heap.

Well 20th Century Fox and Marvel Studios are no fools, remember Hollywood is business to make money, not movies. So here comes the historically dreaded sequel. Moreover, directed by a different guy (David Leitch takes over for Tim Miller). But remains are the writing team of Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick with a little input from Reynolds.


It continues from the original with Deadpool and his gal pal Vanessa (Morena Baccarin) in a nice and cozy relationship while he's out fighting crime. However, his job comes home and...


Anyway, along comes a guy from the future named Cable (Josh Brolin) who is out to kill a mutant named Russell (Julian Dennison) who has the ability to burn things to a crisp with his hands - thuis he calls himself Firefist. Russell is under the watchful (and tortuous) eye of a mutant rehabilitation school (Eddie Marsan) and wants nothing more than to fry the headmaster. Cable is determined to whack the kid before the kid can whack the headmaster and Deadpool is stuck in the middle.


To combat Cable, Deadpool assembles a group of semi-superheroes with extremely comical results. The one memorable member, who will probably be carried over to the next installment of the franchise, is Domino (Zazie Beetz) whose superpower is good luck. Cable proves to be more than a match which makes him interesting as a probable recurring character.


While the action keeps the visual attention, it is once again the off-the-cuff sarcastic comments of Deadpool that keep the laughs coming. Especially those quips about Ryan Reynolds' career; oh, and the stab at DC Comics. Moreover, unlike the other Marvel Comics films, somehow the two films about Deadpool have come under two hours - this installment clicks in at one hour fifty nine minutes.


For Josh Brolin, this will be his second blockbuster film in three weeks in which he is a major character (he portrays Thanos in "Avengers: Infinity War") and returning next month in "Sicario: Dy of the Soldado" which is expected to score a big gate. Also likable is Beetz in a role that may also be recurring. You'll get a kick out of Brad Pitt as Vanisher and Rob Delaney as Peter. Of course it is great to see Leslie Uggams continue her role as Blind Al.


It will be interesting to see how Marvel plans to bring the Deadpool and X-Men franchises together (both are distributed by 20th Century Fox), but there are a couple of hints this is an inevitability.


"Deadpool 2" is easily as good as the original with just the right amount of action sprinkled into the continuous gags and jokes. It seems as though it is leading to an expansion of Deadpool, which will be great if the humor stays up to par.   -- GRADE B+ --   GEOFF BURTON