The Suicide Squad: James Gunn Outdoes Himself

By Deep Guha

To start this review, I’ll say just one thing, Peacemaker will OWN Helmut Zemo in a dance-off. Now that all the Marvel fans are going nuts, let’s start.

The DCEU is one of the most polarizing franchises existing today. Fans and critics both love it and hate it. While films like Wonder Woman, Aquaman, Zack Snyder’s Justice League, Shazam!, have pleased the general crowd and film aficionados, the other films of the same shared universe like BvS: Dawn of Justice, continues to be hotly debated. While Warner Bros. is constantly taking fire from the fans for their unofficial decision to not support Zack Snyder’s original view for the Universe, The Suicide Squad might just be the thing that makes the fans trust WB again, at least when concerned with the DCEU.

Photo by Tengyart on Unsplash

The movie starts with Amanda Waller(Viola Davis) sending two ‘Task Force X’ teams, who don’t know of each other’s existence to Corto Maltese with the mission to sabotage the current anti-USA rulers of the nation and sabotage a confidential experimental project known as Project Starfish. While the first team is brutally obliterated at the hands of the Corto Maltese army, who were tipped off beforehand, the second team sneaks onto the land undetected(perhaps a fitting metaphor of WB choosing to make a soft reboot after the Ayer directed film crashed and burned). Rick Flag(Joel Kinnaman) and Harley Quinn(Margot Robbie) survive the ambush but are captured by the army and taken away. The second team, which consists of Bloodsport(Idris Elba), Peacemaker(John Cena), Ratcatcher II(Daniela Melchior), Polka-Dot Man(David Dastmalchian), King Shark(Sylvester Stallone) then infiltrate the city, absorb Flag and Quinn in their unit and go on with their mission, only to run into a troubling alien kaiju named Starro The Conqueror.

The film also has a tinge of socio-political commentary. US-sponsored agents infiltrate a Latin American country to topple a dictator. A neo-colonial propaganda induced narrative that is very familiar to every person who watches American films. But Gunn turns the narrative on its head because the Squad discover that their country had their hands inside the cookie jar all along and wanted to erase every evidence of it, and not just to overthrow a politically unstable country, which begs questions of its own(a discussion for another day). While this narrative turn isn’t new or bold, to find it in a mainstream superhero comedy film about a group of criminals working for a black ops government outfit is amusing.

Gunn’s Suicide Squad differs from Ayer’s in huge ways. The camaraderie in Gunn’s film is genuine and doesn’t feel forced. Unlike Ayer, Gunn doesn’t dwell on the past of the new characters for hours, instead, there are tidbits of information on the background of the new characters, enough for the audience to know them, yet also keeping the mystique behind the characters psyche almost intact.

Gunn also takes immense care to end Flag’s and Quinn’s respective arcs from their previous films. Along with Amanda Waller, these are the three characters who’ve come to the surface as the best ones from 2016’s Suicide Squad. While Flag loosens up a bit, Harley is still Harley, and Waller is menacing as always. The characterizations portrayed by the new cast is spot on. But out of them all, it is Peacemaker and King Shark who stand out the most. Harley Quinn is already the fan favourite and justifies that favouritism. Polka-Dot Man, Ratcatcher II, Savant are the next ones who come to mind in terms of good characterization. Idris Elba has totally owned the character of Bloodsport who comes off as strong and a proper leader in the crucial moments of the film.

The chemistry between the characters is far superior to the 2016 prequel. Tell me you didn’t like Peacemaker’s relationship with Bloodsport. I dare you. But there’s still that question though, is this movie a sequel? Well, the answer is yes and no. It does operate as a standalone sequel but at the same time acts as a soft reboot of the series. But you can’t find any narrative oddity in the film. It’s well crafted, filled with dark humour, poppy soundtracks, and James Gunn’s quirkiness. The characters aren’t two dimensional, have the right motivations and do come off as a band of misfits, as they should. All over, the film is a massive improvement over the first film, hand-down. And it fits smoothly in the broader fabric of the DCEU.

Now go enjoy this bloody, gory, beautiful superhero movie because it is the most entertaining film that has come out of the DCEU.