• Platform: HBO MAX
  • Release Date: 06/08/2021
  • Cast: Margot Robbie, Idris Elba, John Cena, Joel Kinnaman, Viola Davis, Daniela Melchior
  • Director: James Gunn

Outrageous, slapstick, and hyper-violent! Gunn’s Suicide Squad is the true liberation of comic book wackiness and macabre

— Ambar Chatterjee

The Suicide Squad is a reboot of “Suicide Squad” released in 2016 and directed by David Ayer. Ayer later disowned the film and alleged that the DC/Warner studio executives destroyed his vision for the film and the characters by trying to make it funnier and what they believe was more saleable. Upon its release, “Suicide Squad” was lambasted by critics and audiences alike as it felt like different films at different times and it seemed apparent that the film was a bastardization of the visions of both the director, David Ayer, and that of the studio executives. It was such a gigantic disappointment that DC/Warner abandoned the idea of a suicide squad film for the next 4 years. It was later revealed in an interview that when James Gunn joined DC/Warner, he asked to be given the reins of the film even though he could pick any character or franchise from DCs existing lineup. Something clicked about the Suicide Squad with Gunn and he wanted to make this film more than anything else. That love for the material and the willingness to go bonkers with the characters are visible in the finished product and that also happens to be the biggest strength of this film.

Amanda Waller (Viola Davis) forcefully recruits a team of bizarre albeit assorted group of characters and sends them under the command of Colonel Rick Flag (Joel Kinnaman) to destroy a general and his army that has taken over the reins of a fictitious country, Corto Maltese. The general has executed a coup d’etat and killed the country’s ruler and his entire family. Once on the shores of the Corto Maltese, the team realizes that they are grossly outnumbered, out-gunned, and betrayed. Rick Flag requests to be evacuated from the location but Waller orders him to move ahead as planned. She believes that the team is too powerful to be overwhelmed by an army of mere mortals and also that the mission is too important to be abandoned. What happens next is what the film is all about.   

This is the Suicide Squad film that we deserved and finally got. One has to understand that comedy and seriousness have to be balanced well for it to make an impact in a film like this. The Suicide Squad must-have comedy but then there has to be enough seriousness in it to make us care for the safety and wellbeing of the characters that we side with. That is the only way in which Gunn could have ensured that the film was tense and thrilling when it needed to be. There had to be genuine stakes and that was never possible unless we could take the characters and the situations seriously. Thus there had to be a reasonable balance between comedy and seriousness and the film had to have a sense of realism and believability to it. James Gunn excels in ensuring just that and while he is at it, he is also able to extract comic relief from situations that he has already milked for the last ounce of thrill. This is a master storyteller at work and he makes this obvious through his dealing of complicated situations in a simplistic yet effective manner.

Idris Elba and Viola Davis in a still

In the very first action sequence of the film, we are introduced to a character known only as T.D.K. While en route to the location, one of the team members questions him about the abbreviation. T.D.K looks flustered at the question making it obvious that the full form of his name might be something worth hiding. We learn what it is moments later and also see his bizarre superpower that is practically pointless in contexts of a full-blown-out war. Harley Quinn’s (Margot Robbie) expressions to his superpower tell the story and Gunn goes a step further and makes Rick Flag say, “I don’t choose the members of the team” when Harley looks at him squarely in dismay. This sequence was one of the most uproariously comic moments of the film and it is so because of how well it is envisioned, written, and executed.  

Similarly, Gunn shows his flair at infusing tension and thrills in many sequences. One such sequence is the one where we witness Peacemaker (John Cena) and Rick Flag fight it out for a piece of computer hardware. This sequence doesn’t end in a way that one would expect and therein lies its greatest strength. One of the defining factors of this film is the fact that many of the characters that we start connecting with and caring for die abruptly and in horrific manners. This includes some of the characters from the previous film and also some who appear to be in the driver’s seat. This creates a sense of uncertainty throughout the film and makes it even more thrilling. However, there is one death that I couldn’t stop laughing about and I am sure it will invoke similar expressions from the majority of the audiences.

The ensemble cast does a phenomenal job. There isn’t a single performance that doesn’t hit home its point. My favorite of the lot was John Cena who was better than he ever was before. He has been doing a lot of comedy and that might have aided his cause here but he is absolutely brilliant as the psychotic and self-obsessed Peacemaker. I can’t wait for his Peacemaker series that is in the works and is being directed by James Gunn himself. The next best performance comes from Daniela Melchior who plays Ratcatcher 2 and is probably the only positive character in the entire film. She is as sweet as someone can be and her mannerisms throughout the film send across a sense of kindness and unadulterated sweetness that is infectious. Idris Elba is his uber-cool self and he is as likable as ever. Margot Robbie is a real life embodiment of the craziness and mojo of Harley Quinn and she puts her best foot forward in a role that she knows all too well.

Margot Robbie in a still

The film dips a little through a prolonged sequence between Harley and the general who had masterminded the coup at Corto Maltese. This was the only portion where I got a bit restless and wanted it to end but then it ends in a manner that left me shocked. There are also one too many rescue missions in the film but they are all done so well and have so much shock value that they leave no room for any complaints. The film’s climax will also leave you spellbound and asking for more. I am confident that we will have another Suicide Squad film going by the looks of how things culminated in this film.

Overall, James Gunn’s The Suicide Squad will rate higher than any superhero stuff that we have seen this year. The film is outrageous, comic, slapstick, and hyper-violent in ways that one cannot imagine. It breaks every rule and shreds every inhibition making it a true liberation of comic book wackiness that is complete with edge-of-the-seat thrills and out-of-the-world surprises. This one is a must-watch.   

Rating: 4/5 (4 out of 5 Stars)


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