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  Suicide Squad, The The Redeemables
Year: 2021
Director: James Gunn
Stars: Margot Robbie, Idris Elba, John Cena, Joel Kinnaman, Sylvester Stallone, Viola Davis, Alice Braga, Daniela Melchior, David Dastmalchian, Peter Capaldi, Nathan Fillion, Jai Courtney, Michael Rooker, Pete Davison, Steve Agee, Juan Diego Botto, Taika Waititi
Genre: Comedy, Action, Science Fiction, AdventureBuy from Amazon
Rating:  6 (from 1 vote)
Review: The supervillain known as Savant (Michael Rooker) sits in his solitary prison exercise area, obsessively bouncing a ball. The only respite he gets from his boredom is when he can kill a bird that strays into his orbit, so when he is given the chance to join a top secret government mission, a suicide squad if you will, he immediately agrees. As he is flown out to the island nation of Corto Maltese, he begins to have second thoughts - who are these weirdos that he is entrusting his life to? Can they be relied upon? The only one he recognises is Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie), and she is notoriously unstable, as is the mission, as it transpires...

Not to worry, while the first suicide squad mostly get destroyed by the local army - Harley escapes with a javelin she feels is significant, but doesn't know how - there is a second which seems more capable, or maybe they were luckier with the location of their arrival, and the fact they were not betrayed. This lot, we learn in the first of a number of brief flashbacks, are led by Bloodsport, played by Idris Elba as a second division Will Smith off of the first Suicide Squad movie, and include in their ranks John Cena as the uber-patriotic Peacemaker, Daniela Melchior as the sleepy Ratcatcher 2 (who lives up to her nickname) and David Dastmalchian as Polka-Dot Man.

The inclusion of that last should twig you to the fact writer and director James Gunn was not taking this comic book movie too seriously. To qualify: he was not taking serious comic book movies seriously, as this was a gleeful fart in the face of executive producer Zack Snyder's efforts to turn DC superheroes into gods worthy of worship by mere mortals. Their great rivals at Marvel had made billions by performing a sleight of hand where their characters were ever-ready with the quips, but wanted to be treated with the importance of war heroes, and audiences had responded to that, yet if anything what Gunn was doing was giving DC their version of the Deadpool movies, with lesser profits.

Not as fourth wall breaking as those, granted, but he was obviously entranced not by how grave perilous situations could be, but by the silliest excesses of comics from all eras, as after all, no matter how sincerely they are treated, the big two were often wont to produce some pretty ri-goddamned-diculous material, and that had transferred into the movies, consciously and otherwise. Gunn's Guardians of the Galaxy series had been temporarily derailed by a social media scandal, whereupon DC said here, have this franchise and do what the hell you want, too good an offer to refuse. You can take the boy out of Troma, but that company's savouring of idiotic trash as a means to an end was reproduced on a budget Lloyd Kaufman could only dream of, and Gunn's roots in indulgent bad taste were given free rein.

OK, you could say he was pushing his critics' noses in the bad taste that got him into trouble and proving there was a market for it, but despite casual cruelty there was a curiously heartfelt call out to the losers of the world that they would have their day, after all, how many supervillains actually win in their evil endeavours? Not too many, and this film wonders why they bother when being the hero is a far more satisfying narrative, yet there was an inclusion of lambasting corrupt American foreign policy that interferes in other nations that was very counterculture and aware that evildoers are more effective if they have legitimate power to wield. Back at the plot, it was a colourful, goofy and rather exhausting retread of the likes of The Dirty Dozen or Kelly's Heroes, and while Robbie was the ostensible lead, her role was disposable until the climax, suggesting DC still did not know how to showcase a great character outside of cartoons. Its dedication to the oddball in comic books went further than almost anything in its genre, and you may admire it for that, but it was softer centered than it would admit. Music by John Murphy.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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