THE SUICIDE SQUAD Review
So Suicide Squad is...not good. To say the least. The 2016 version that is. While plagued by behind-the-scenes drama and reshoots, there isn't even the fraction of the Guardians of the Galaxy-knock off that works. Which is why it is bold of Warner Bros./DC to make a follow-up to it so soon afterwards. But as fate would have it, the guy they were ripping off has come over to show them how it's done.
James Gunn departs the MCU and boards the DC Universe with The Suicide Squad, a sequel/reboot hybrid that doesn't explicitly discount the first, but smartly doesn't acknowledge it either. The result is one of the wildest, most inventive and exciting comic book movies of this modern superhero age.
The Suicide Squad sees Amanda Waller (Viola Davis) recruiting a team of super villains to perform a black-ops mission to instigate a regime change in a South American island, under pain of death.
Before the title appears on screen, it is clear that this is James Gunn when he is let loose. Held back by Marvel's family-friendly brand image, Gunn can go back to his gruesome roots. People are ripped in half, intestines dangling inbetween; heads explode in explicit detail; and people are shredded by helicopter blades! So no, this isn't exactly a family-friendly film of mass murderers commiting mass murder. But the action, and movie entirely, is beautifully shot and captures that gritty, 70s war movie aesthetic Gunn promised to deliver.
Amongst the gore and carnage, there is a strong beating heart about family, legacy, redemption and acceptance within the team dynamic. Gunn brought personal stories to the Guardians of the Galaxy, but here those character moments are more impactful, thanks to strong performances and stronger writing. Like the two-time galaxy savers, The Squad that Gunn forms is a group of weirdos and losers who find their place amongst this team.
The Squad that Gunn has choosen is an eclectic group of D-List DC villains ranging from Polka-Dot Man to King Shark to Mongal, The Thinker, Peacemaker and Weasel. The cast itself is stacked with Margot Robbie and Jai Courtney returning as Harley Quinn and Captain Boomerang respectively, and being joined by Idris Elba, John Cena, Joel Kinnaman, Daniela Melchior, Pete Davidson, Nathan Fillion, Michael Rooker, Peter Capaldi, David Dastmalchian and Sylvester Stallone.
Without giving away who literally loses their heads, the primary focus is on Idris Elba's Bloodsport and Daniela Melchior as Ratcatcher. Their stories offer the most emotional resonance of the movie and are intertwined about parental relationships. Again, they and The Squad are outcasts that are given a purpose for once and a chance to prove themselves, in an uplifting story.
This being James Gunn though, there is also a wry sense of humour to the whole movie. Wry but crass and fitting for the characters. They are terrible people, so naturally, they are just the worst and have the humour sense of a frat boy which is grating but intentional. This isn't the charming quips of Tony Stark, but the cringe-inducing jokes you expect from a bunch of douchebags. Peacemaker and Bloodsport clash over leadership of the team, leading to numerous dick jokes that are fitting for these stunted man-childs.
Thankfully, Gunn does what many comic book directors are scared to do, and that is embrace the source material. Gunn and everyone involved, commits to bringing costumes and creatures straight from the comic book page and onto the big screen. No justification for it or realism involved; Peacemaker wears a big, dumb, chrome helmet; Polka-Dot Man fires multi-coloured, acidic discs from another dimension; there is a bi-pedal shark-god, all with no explainable reason. And that is the joy of this movie is the revelry in the over the top characters and visual spectacle all to Gunn's trademark needle drops and John Murphy's electric guitar fuelled score.
The Suicide Squad earns its definitvie article as the definitive Suicide Squad movie (not that there was much competition). Fun and creative action sequences, unique and loveable cast, emotional themes about embracing weirdness and a loving embodiment of the source material make this easily one of the best comic book movies of the last 10 years.