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The Suicide Squad review: Politics of this DC film packs a punch

The Suicide Squad movie review: James Gunn realises that the craziest thing aren't the freaks fighting the battle on the screen, it is the government pulling the strings from behind, going forth into worlds it has no idea about.

The Suicide Squad movie cast: Idris Elba, Margot Robbie, John Cena, Sylvester Stallone, Viola Davis, Daniela Melchior, David Dastmalchian, Peter Capaldi
The Suicide Squad movie director: James Gunn
The Suicide Squad movie rating: 3.5 stars

James Gunn has a way of giving lowly, insignificant rejects in the world of magnum superheroes a voice, and a screen presence, and kick, and ass, and some kickass joy. It is thus fitting that the Guardians of the Galaxy director should rescue this DC venture from the mess that it was in its first outing.

Just when you fear that it’s all going down the same road again, with chaos confused for chaotic genius, Gunn, both the writer and director, entirely junks one set of despicables who are its Suicide Squad, to pull out of its bag men and women (noticeably women) who are more than just unhinged killing machines.

The film, no doubt, still revels in its gore — sliced necks are like full stops to mark end of scenes, while a broken bathroom tile is filmed in detail being plunged into a still-beating heart. However, its suicide squad comprises essentially loners seeking to be friends, done in by the cruel hand of fate. Just that, they won’t patiently wait around for someone else to rewrite their destiny, or go about it in a way the world can digest with its popcorn.

The squad’s official name is Task Force X, and once again they have been summoned together by Davis’s Wallace, who runs the black ops draped in skirt-jackets in various shades of pink. They are prisoners serving hard time in a godforsaken prison, and Wallace offers them a chance to have years sliced off their sentence by taking up impossible missions for the American government. Should they go astray, she just has to push a button to blast off explosive devices planted in their brains.

For this particular mission, she chooses Bloodsport (Elba) as the leader, and his squad comprises Peacemaker (Cena), Ratcatcher 2 (Melchior), Shark King (voiced by Stallone) and Polka Dot Man (Dastmalchian). As we discover gradually, almost none has willingly stumbled onto the powers that make him or her fit for the mission.

And that mission would be: destroying a top-secret weapon being developed in a country in South America whose government has just been overthrown in a military coup. The family that ruled it first, with an iron hand, was pro-American; the new president isn’t.

That’s it, that’s the brief.

The smartest sleight of hand about The Suicide Squad is that its politics packs a punch. For, Gunn realises that the craziest thing aren’t the freaks fighting the battle on the screen. It’s the government pulling the strings from behind, going forth into worlds it has no idea about, setting people against each other, and investing millions and 30 years to build monsters like the starfish, that is the ostensible villain of this film. It’s a delectable irony when the pretty thing with its riot of colours crushes the men with their machines.

You feel for the traumatic childhood of Dastmalchian’s Polka Dot Man, chuckle at Cena’s Peacemaker antics, and may end up grieving for some of the stars the film very economically and, surprisingly, eliminates. However, it is the others who are the stars of this Suicide Squad. Stallone for his shark that can dance to a water tank full of fish; Elba for his commanding, almost regal, presence; Melchior for her tragic desire for love; and Robbie, once again Robbie, for the pathos that underlines her mania.

Gunn gives her several beautiful moments to live out her Harley Quinn, be it fighting, loving, or fantasising. All at once you see the woman there was, the woman there is, and the woman there can be.

You bet the Suicide Squad knows it too.

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