Director David Leitch and star Ryan Reynolds know why you’re here: to hear the merc with a mouth revel in smug-smart impieties (about other characters, about superhero movies, about narrative in general, ad infinitum but not quite ad nauseam) and to watch him kick ass despite enduring mind-blowing (bone-breaking, flesh-rending, blood-spurting) amounts of abuse, thanks to a healing factor that makes him look like Wolverine on steroids (and maybe also meth). And they give it to you. What’s more, they do it with effortless style: instead of seeking to top the over-the-top antics of the first film, they’re content to simply groove with what they’ve already established and just have fun. The result is less exhausting and more entertaining. And speaking of Wolverine, this installment opens with an explosive middle finger aimed at last year’s very fine R-rated superhero story, Logan, then proceeds to riff on its story: a mutant kid in need meets a mutant grownup who needs to help him — for both their sakes. It’s a much stronger pole from which to fly one’s freak flag than the original’s sad-sack pity-party. (2018) — Matthew Lickona
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