Movie Review: James Gunn Guns His ‘Suicide Squad’ Entry

Mild Spoilers Ahead

Image via Warner Bros Media

As much as the definite article the’ is a difference between James Gunn’s rendition and David Ayer’s 2018 version of the villainous mercenaries, there are several other things that make the two movies different from the other. Before making this movie, James Gunn had made the two Guardians of the Galaxy movies in the MCU and it is very easy to see the same overarching fun and comedic tone in The Suicide Squad. With this newest entry into the Suicide Squad world, we can only hope DC stops messing with the vision of directors.

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The Suicide Squad follows the same premise as the previous SS movies; Amanda Waller (Viola Davis) approaches a number of special Belle Reve prison inmates and offers them a mission in exchange for years off their sentence. Here, the mission is to destroy Jotunheim, a former Nazi facility in Corto Maltese that houses a secret project ‘starfish’ and is currently supervised by The Thinker (Peter Capaldi).  Unknown to most of them, one of the team members has been saddled with an extra responsibility that proves to become a problem later on in the movie. We all know plans are never as linear as projectors and briefings make them, what we witness over the course of the movie is what happens when silliness, wittiness and gore come together. James Gunn makes sure to announce his gore right from the very first scene, to Harley having the bath of her life in an eye. With James Gunn not holding back on his gore and profanity, The Suicide Squad is rated R.

They say variety is the spice of life. DC’s attempt at making movies about lesser characters is finally paying off and The Suicide Squad is a feasting festival for comic book lovers as they get to see different lesser-known characters that they have read about. The members of ‘the’ suicide squad include Bloodsport (Idris Elba), Peacemaker (John Cena), Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie), Nanauae a.k.a King Shark (Sylvester Stallone), Polka-Dot Man (David Dastmalchian), Ratcatcher 2 ((Daniela Melchior)) and many other interesting characters. James Gunn isn’t the only MCU person to have a part in this movie, we see another known  MCU director in this movie too (keep an eye out for the cameo).

The Suicide Squad members. Via Warner Bros.

Everybody in the movie fits the role they play—those alive and those dead—even our Kaiju friend doesn’t disappoint in its wobbliness and vengeance on Corto Maltese. Harley Quinn has always almost repented of her ways but we get knocked back to reality and are reminded that, Joker or not, Harley is the queen. The Suicide Squad is post her breakup with Joker, so that puts this movie after Birds Of Prey. All hail Margot Robbie! We are also introduced to our millennial friend, Ratcatcher  2 (Daniela Melchior). Though a sweetheart, her darkside pops up every once in a while. Let’s think of her as the toned version of Harley Quinn. Just as Harley became who she was because of her love for Joker, we also see Ratcatcher take on her mantle from her upbringing of love. Ratcatcher 2’s story is a particularly interesting one; she easily switches from an empathic character to someone who lets hell loose at any time of her choosing. At best, she is unstable. But for most of the movie, she passes off as someone who wouldn’t hurt a fly and even acts as a support system for members of the suicide squad. 

The acting in this movie is stellar and it will be continuously referenced for how spot on and natural everyone played their role. Idris Elba should  gun for more roles like this as there is this life he brings to the Bloodsport character, same as John Cena’s Peacemaker, which is really sweet to see. Sylvester Stallone’s King Shark is a charm to see as his character evolves from this simple violent creature, learning spanish, cussing, to staying true to his ‘nom’ ‘nom’ nature. The Suicide Squad is an endless laughing ride for core fans and non fans as both parties are carried along. James Gunn successfully gets the audience to not care about the ending of the world as that has become the trope for superhero movies, rather we find ourselves in this place of worrying and caring about this band of villains. If you fall in love with these bunch of blood thirsty degenerates and villains, fret not! Your moral compass is still alright, James just toys with it as he explores the other sides to these characters.

Some of the Suicide Squad mercenaries on the island. Via Warner Bros.

How Gunn continues this reboot with even more characters and expansion from the 2016 version, a better story, more comedy and more gore, are the elements that make it much better than the 2016 Suicide Squad. Though WB and DC messed with Ayer’s cut for their fear of it being too dark, the 2016 studio cut left a sour taste in the mouth of fans. It should be noted that Ayer’s cut was tweaked because of critics coming down on Zack Synder’s movies (also Snyder’s Justice League movie). Ironically, Zack Snyder released his Justice League cut and the world marvelled at it earlier this year. It only left the imagination of fans running wild at what could have been. The management should continue with this newly found creative freedom it is giving to its directors. WB and DC would just have to accept that they are a dark verse and thrive in it. We get it! This is a dark movie, we still get to see the colourfulness of it all and that darkness can have a light part too.

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DC’s characters and stories are usually ones immersed in the tackling of deep philosophies and strong character development, aided by the dark tone and colours their movies always have. The characters are usually challenged by events that force them to challenge their philosophies, and this has a ripple effect on the audience. Though the MCU also does this, DC’s focus on their characters particularly makes theirs darker and more human for the audience, which can be seen in the recent DC movie, Joker. Using this same DC trope, James Gunn has been able to explore dark themes while making the audience laugh through it. That’s the light in the darkness. 

In The Suicide Squad, I consider the stand-off between members of the team to be the main fight sequence because of the moral questions it poses—truth or peace? Although the fight is quickly over in seconds because of smaller bullets, we have already seen a person of peace take on the team after he gets to an important part of ‘his’ mission. Asides this fight, other fights are standard superhero let’s save the world fight

Via Warner Bros.

The final standoff involves the combined effort of members of the squad. The bliss that comes after Harley finally realizes what to do with Javelin’s Javelin. It happens that the Javelin (Flula Borg) passed it on to her after his demise; sadly he dies while trying to tell her the purpose of the javelin, which marks one of the early funny moments in the movie. Seeing the javelin be put to good use is so good to see. It is not so hard to poke the antagonist’s eye, is it? Especially after guns have had little effect on it.
The music choices are one of the best decisions in this movie as every song fits the mood and unfolding events. From the song Harley Quinn sings to the ones playing in the background, The Suicide Squad boasts of creativity. Even the chapter titles are not left behind as they are also creatively and intelligently woven into each setting. The freedom extended to Gunn was also extended to everyone who worked on the movie, and they thrive in it until the experienced superhero auteur, James Gunn, brings the fun ride to an abrupt end at the 2 hour 10 minute mark. However, the fun does not end there as we see an old friend doing nothing, hinting at a ‘saving the world’ sequel  in the post-credit scene.

 Overall, The Suicide Squad is bloody, funny, goofy and makes for a good viewing experience with promises of a sequel. 

Rating:  7.5/10

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Side Musings

  • We also see different sides of American deception and exploitation. We see a member of the squad go to great lengths to defend the USA’s political interest and the status quo. America’s condoning of dictatorship because of the benefits they derive is brought to the limelight, and the light is also shone on the United States trying to absolve themselves of their crimes.
  • To be honest, the gore was done in a comedic way and was good to see. Especially when Blackguard gets his recompense for selling the team.
  • If Bautista had not turned down a role in The Suicide Squad so he could work on Zack Snyder’s Army of the Dead, he would have been another MCU person who has worked on DC projects. I would like to see what a showdown between Bautista and his WWE mate John Cena would be like.

The Suicide Squad is currently showing in cinemas and available on HBO Max.

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