The Suicide Squad:
James Gunn in his rawest, most unhinged state
The Suicide Squad is now available in cinemas and on HBO Max. It’s a soft reboot from Suicide Squad and pushes the boundaries in a positive way. Funny thing is, the DC movie was made possible by Disney and a Twitter campaign against James Gunn, the writer.
After a series of offensive tweets that appeared a decade earlier, Disney fired Gunn just three years ago. Although Gunn initially refused to be rehired for Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 would see the Marvel Studios owner do exactly that.
Gunn found it surprising, but even more satisfying. Warner Bros. offered Gunn the movie of his choice during the interim. Gunn chose a Suicide Squad film — and lo and behold it’s here.
It makes sense on paper that Gunn would choose The Suicide Squad. An anti-heroes/supervillains group that band together to cause mayhem. This is his main strength. Gunn is the director of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. and Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. for Marvel. 2 have been praised by most critics.
They made $1.64 billion, or Rs. 12,153 crores at the global box office. The Suicide Squad’s first announcement was my reaction. “Oh, he’s going do his Guardians shtick in DC now.” Surprisingly, The Suicide Squad’s success is not limited to DC’s Guardians of the Galaxy. It does contain Gunn’s favorite elements, such as cutting the tension with jokes or peppering it with nostalgic tracks.
Gunn is also free to express his natural sensibilities, and he will take what doesn’t work for him. The Suicide Squad doesn’t care about storytelling limitations. The film’s plot can be summarized in just two sentences. The new DC movie has little narrative momentum and feels more like a collection of sketches.
The Suicide Squad is basically a big, stupid joke. Half of the characters in the film are made up of jokes and are dead within minutes of their introduction. Gunn said he would kill many. The rest of the cast have plot armor, and they survive until the end.
And, miraculously, even beyond. Even a gag is made about how the audience doesn’t care much about side characters and can’t even remember their names.
Gunn really pushes the boundaries with this film, which features not one but three anthropomorphic and animal characters that viewers can invest in. This is what makes the film great. The Suicide Squad shines when it is absurd, silly, and has a lot of fun.
The Suicide Squad begins by introducing us to Task Force X. However, there are some returning members such as Rick Flag (Joel Kinnaman), and Harley Quinn (Margot Robertbie). Gunn’s film technically is a sequel of the 2016 disaster Suicide Squad. However, it doesn’t reference past events at all. It’s a fresh start, if you will.
Robert “Bloodsport”, a high-tech shooter who also failed to father his children, leads the new gang (Idris Elba from Hobbs & Shaw), and Christopher “Peacemaker,” a fellow expert shooter without morals (John Cena from F9). Bloodsport and Peacemaker share similar skills and the first half of The Suicide Squad is a bit of penis-comparing.
We also have Cleo “Ratcatcher 2”, a rat communicator (Daniela Malchior, Valor da Vida), with Sebastian, her pet rat (the closest analog to Guardians of the Galaxy’s Groot), a man-eating great-white shark Nanaue/ King Shark (voiced Sylvester Stallone) and Abner “Polka-Dot Man” Krill, Ant-Man’s experiment-subject who shoots polka dots.
Polka-Dot Man looks like the ideal candidate for The Suicide Squad’s elaborate jokes and he is. Gunn adds unexpected emotional resonance to the gag, which Gunn deploys thrice, always great. Viola Davis is back as Task Force X Office-Boss Amanda Waller. However, her role is limited to being an expository machine.
The Suicide Squad shows Harley and Co. being dropped on the fictional island of Corto Maltese in Latin America. This is likely a reference to the popular Italian comic book series. Waller is concerned about Project Starfish, an experimental scientific program that is being carried out at Jotunheim, a Nazi-era facility.
They should get in, remove all traces and then get out. Gunn sees this as an opportunity to show Gunn his new ensemble. King Shark brings humor because of his love for human flesh. Polka-Dot Man struggles with his past. Bloodsport and Peacemaker try to outdo each other. Ratcatcher 2 ends up being a bank robber who is a good-hearted, gold-hearted thief. Harley is, however, in her own movie for half.
Robbie is the star of The Suicide Squad. However, she has very little to do for most episodes. Given Harley’s long history in DC Extended Universe, her credit feels more like a legacy. This is her third appearance, after 2016’s Suicide Squad (2016) and 2020’s Birds of Prey (20). She’s on par with Henry Cavill and Gal Gadot’s Wonder Woman (2018).
The Suicide Squad is more Elba and Melchior, Cena and Kinnaman. These two are the core of the film. Bloodsport and Ratcatcher 2 share many quiet moments of character that highlight Gunn’s sincere side. Through Flag and Peacemaker, The Suicide Squad tries to make a comment on the decades-long American foreign policy that has devastated small foreign countries.
Corto Maltese could represent any country that the CIA/US military has intervened in local affairs in order to promote global peace but in real American interests. A peacemaker is an embodiment of these values and morals. He’s all for peace no matter what cost. He could easily be a part of a black comedy such as Dr. Strangelove if you push him further.
The messaging of The Suicide Squad can be a bit too direct at times. Peter Capaldi’s supervillain Dr. Gaius’ “The Thinker” Grieves is used in an expository role, similar to Davis’ Waller. Gunn never seems to be too far from his next joke, joke, or gimmick. This ensures that the film never takes himself seriously.
Despite this, parts of The Suicide Squad feel a bit rushed and stretched. It feels longer even though it lasts just a little over two hours. Perhaps it’s because the mission of the new squad isn’t urgent enough. Perhaps it’s because there isn’t a true villain. The military rulers of the Corto Maltese are a secondary concern for most people.
Gunn only allows them to be as good as they are. The giant alien starfish Starro, teased through trailers, is exactly that: a huge alien starfish.
Gunn still delivered a wild, gory, and crazy adventure at his worst — more than he has allowed himself to be at Marvel or allowed himself to be. Warner Bros.
learns another lesson from this movie — Suicide Squad’s theatrical cut was removed by David Ayer because it needed more of this in its search for a new identity to compete with Marvel’s well-oiled machine.
The Suicide Squad is currently playing in cinemas around the world. It’s available in English and Hindi as well as Tamil and Telugu. You can also access it on HBO Max in the USA for no extra charge.