Director: David Leitch
Cast: Ryan Reynolds (voiced by Ranveer Singh), Josh Brolin, Morena Baccarin, Zazie Beetz, Julian Dennison, T.J Miller, Karan Soni (voiced by Bhuvan Bam)
Ranveer Singh made me do it. The idea of him becoming the voice for a smirking, subversive Hollywood superhero was so intriguing that I decided to see Deadpool 2 in Hindi. I don’t regret it but it wasn’t entirely satisfying either. Because Deadpool 2 is entertaining but it is so relentless in its punches – literal and metaphorical – that it’s also exhausting. This film is stuffed with pop-culture jokes. It’s so meta and self-referential that I feel like I have to see it again, in English, to catch it all.
For those who came in late, Deadpool was first seen in a cameo in X-Men Origins: Wolverine in 2009. He is potty-mouthed, irreverent and a determined non-conformist. He also has deadly combat skills and the ability to regenerate everything in his body except his disfigured face. At the beginning of this film, he has suffered a great tragedy and is trying to kill himself, which of course is impossible. He finds meaning in the shape of a mutant kid who too many people are trying to hurt – including Cable, a time-traveler, played by Josh Brolin who recently played Thanos in Avengers: Infinity War. So of course, at one point, Deadpool refers to Cable as Thanos. Deadpool 2 is funny, furiously paced and densely packed. So much happens so quickly and each frame is so stuffed that I was just trying to keep up.
The man holding it all together – Ryan Reynolds – has a tough task. As Wade Wilson and his superhero avatar Deadpool, the actor has to be both – emotionally sincere and obscenely rude. Reynolds bounces from one to the other seamlessly and Ranveer manages it too. YouTuber Bhuvan Bam also does a nice job as Dopinder, the stereotypical Gujarati cabbie – he calls Deadpool ‘Pool bhai’.
The Hindi humor – the film has been translated by Mayank Jain – relies heavily on Bollywood references and a lot of it lands – so when Deadpool slices a man’s hand off he says, “Ab tu samjhega ki Thakur ka dard kya hai,” and at one point, he despondently sings, “Mera jeevan kora kagaz korahi reh gaya.” But parts of the script, by Rhett Reese, Paul Wernick and Reynolds himself, get lost in translation. It’s hard to convert some of the cheerfully tasteless moments into Hindi – you inevitably land up with lines like ‘Tumhara pappu dikh raha hai.’
Deadpool 2 has been directed by David Leitch who co-directed John Wick in 2014 and more recently directed Atomic Blonde, in which Charlize Theron played a woman of steel. Leitch used to be a stuntman and he has a gift for elaborately choreographed action sequences. The writers balance this with breathless humor – my favorite moment was Deadpool auditioning and assembling a team of bargain basement superheroes that he calls X-Force. Zazie Beetz as Domino, whose superpower is luck, is especially fun. But the sequel doesn’t have the element of surprise that the first film did. You go in knowing exactly what to expect and that’s pretty much what Leitch and Reynolds deliver.
Be warned that like the first, this film is also ultra-violent with impalings and decapitations. If you like your cinema understated and refined, then this is not for you. But for the rest of us, there’s enough to enjoy here.