RELEASED: August 5th 2021
DISTRIBUTED BY: Warner Bros.
DIRECTED BY: James Gunn
WRITTEN BY: James Gunn
PRODUCED BY: Charles Roven & Peter Safran
MUSIC BY: John Murphy
STARRING: Margot Robbie, Idris Elba, John Cena, Joel Kinnaman, Sylvester Stallone, Jai Courtney, Peter Capaldi, Daniela Melchior, David Dastmalchian & Viola Davis
REVIEW: The Suicide Squad are back with a new standalone sequel that ditches the tone and most of the characters of its predecessor to tell a much more violent and humorous tale about the world’s worst heroes.
The Suicide Squad sees Amanda Waller dispatch a host of D-List supervillains to the island of Corto Maltese, where a recent coup has put the island’s new dictator in control of the mysterious Nazi-era laboratory called ‘Jotunheim’. The Squad’s mission? To fight through the Corto Maltese army, infiltrate and destroy the laboratory and whatever lies within – namely a giant, mind-controlling alien starfish. This mission may be a bit out of their league.
This film (and by contrast, its predecessor) are great examples of how much studio interference can change the quality of a product. Where 2016’s Suicide Squad floundered after execs meddled with pretty much every aspect of its creation, The Suicide Squad shines – bringing heart, humour and some of the most intense action DC has ever put to screen.
The untempered style of writer and director James Gunn fits this IP perfectly. He strikes a good balance between crafting some genuinely good humour, while keeping the emotional beats and serious moments on point. Unlike with his work on Guardians of the Galaxy, where the humour would occasionally undercut what should have been important moments, here he shows great restraint in making sure everything is framed properly and allowed to breath. Sure, as the trailer indicates, there is some low-brow humour at times and gags that don’t always land, but for the most part, everything meshes together nicely.
Humour aside, The Suicide Squad‘s other main selling point, the action, is gloriously brutal. People are shot, stabbed, blown up, decapitated, burnt alive, eaten by a walking Shark, crushed, splattered, electrocuted, disintegrated, drowned and bisected. And that’s not even just the antagonists. A lot of the ‘heroes’ die. And I mean a lot.
The film establishes pretty early on that the film will live up to its name, and going forward it’s very possible that any character you grow fond of could bite the bullet. Sometimes those deaths are hilarious, sometimes they’re poignant, and sometimes they’re honestly downright disappointing. But in a way, that adds to the film’s appeal – as it highlights not only the severity of the mission, but also the hopelessness of the Squad’s plight. Not everyone’s going to get a heroic sacrifice. Sometimes, one of your favourites is going to get butchered for no real reason at all, other than being in the wrong place at the wrong time.
And you will have favourites; despite this extraordinarily big cast of ridiculous characters, Gunn imbues many of them with a lot of personality and heartfelt stories. Obviously, some are there just to get killed off, but most of the major players of this movie are captivating in their own ways, whether that be due to the charm or their downright weirdness.
Idris Elba, John Cena and Daniela Melchior are perhaps the highlights, with Melchior proving to be the heart of the movie. Elba and Cena meanwhile vie for the position of most charismatic, and their characters for the position of most competent killer, which leads to some particularly entertaining sequences as the two try to one up each other throughout the movie. Margot Robbie as Harley Quinn also gives another enjoyable performance, and also gets her own solid action sequence. Speaking of, while a lot of the action does come down to shootouts of some sort, there’s some great action choreography in this film.
The cinematography, costumes, make-up and soundtrack are also of note, enriching the more serious moments nicely, as well as infusing the picture as a whole with a very creative comic-booky feel.
Once again, Gunn and his crew have found success in taking some of the weirdest characters from a comic book property, and making them heartfelt and earnest, and for the most part I have very few complaints with this film.
For one, some of the structure of the film seems a bit haywire, as it occasionally jumps back and forth in a way that makes sense, but is occasionally to the pacings detriment. But that’s mostly a non-issue, one eclipsed by a bigger problem: not my problem, per se, but one I’ve noted. And that’s the name, basically. While this film is a completely different beast to it’s predecessor, it’s title doesn’t indicate as much, with box office forecasts not looking upon this film too fondly in the U.S. and anecdotally speaking, working at a cinema, customers rocking up to see DC’s latest are definitely in the minority, even taking the ongoing pandemic into account.
It’s a shame, because like Shazam, Aquaman, Joker and Birds of Prey before it, The Suicide Squad is another example of DC getting things right, unfortunately, the damage may have already been done before the film even properly entered production.
Still, it’s early days and there’s time for that to change. If you like comic book goofiness or ridiculous brutality, this film is worth your time. And for that reason, I give The Suicide Squad…
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