The Suicide Squad (MOVIE REVIEW)
Runtime: 132 Minutes
Director: James Gunn
Cast: Idris Elba, Margot Robbie, John Cena, Peter Capaldi, Sylvester Stallone
Living in a climate where comic book movies are becoming more of the conversation in the film scene has made it increasingly apparent how similar so many works in the genre have become. When you have a working formula that most audience members find comforting and familiar, it’s difficult for most studios to want to stray from the norm. It’s for this reason why it feels so refreshing when a filmmaker like James Gunn came about in 2014 with Guardians of the Galaxy. Stepping his foot into the Marvel Universe, his use of irreverent comedy, a bombastic soundtrack and his signature flair of cynical comedy helped to add some much needed flavour into a growingly stale comic book movie landscape. With The Suicide Squad, Gunn is able to bring his unique filmmaking quirks this time to the DC universe, but with the brakes lifted this time in contrast to Disney’s family friendly fares to make for a creative, witty and extremely violent romp that’s not only a breath of fresh air for a superhero movie, but one of the best films in the entire DC canon.
The Suicide Squad is a standalone sequel to 2016’s Suicide Squad but is written in such a way that you can watch it as it’s own separate entity. Like that film, it follows a similar concept about a band of villains in Belle Reve prison who are taken against their will by Amanda Waller to partake in lethal black ops missions where they will die via an explosive device in their skull if they don’t follow orders. In this movie, alongside returning Suicide Squad members, Harley Quinn and Rick Flag, are a whole new cast of villainous delinquents who are sent to the Latin American island of Corto Maltese to destroy a top secret experiment held in a Nazi-era prison. But as their assignment proceeds and lives are lost, the truth behind the mission begins to unfold in shocking and conflicting ways.
Despite having very similar story elements to 2016’s Suicide Squad on a conceptual level, in terms of execution, it is a much different movie and arguably for the better. The Suicide Squad has less to do with a traditional superhero film and more with the war movies of the 70s and 80s, mainly Apocalypse Now. The setting of a Latin American jungle is a cool location for this movie and much of it is the background for a very creatively visceral story. Easily the film’s best element is the writing. James Gunn movies are usually full of very snappy and witty dialogue delivered by characters constantly at odds with each other and this movie is no different. This film is chock full of great characters that are not only very funny but have plenty of depth to them brought to life by great actors. Margot Robbie is, once again, back as the Brooklyn accented psychopath, Harley Quinn, and is as great as always, but many of the highlights come from the new cast. Idris Elba does a great job as new character Bloodsport, who is thrust into this mission against his will for the sake of his daughter and his feud with John Cena’s Peacemaker makes for some of the film’s best moments in the humour department. A lot of the comedy stems less from giant hilarious spectacle but from solid character banter that feels natural enough to the point where it never feels forced and provides solid chuckles as a result. The film is filled with many of these character interactions that not only flesh out each one of these villains in ways that don’t feel over expository but also provide the story with plenty of life. When the film isn’t focused on being comedic, it’s providing some solid heart and it only feels more and more impactful when people start dying and it becomes increasingly more high stakes as the film progresses. And this is a film where you might start feeling anxiety and sympathy for a talking shark voiced by Sylvester Stallone. This is the weird kind of level the movie is on.
And plenty of these high stakes are shown to the best of their ability with the film’s action which is simply put one of the best comic book spectacles you can find on the big screen today. As good as James Gunn’s Guardians of the Galaxy films are, you could kind of see how he was slightly restrained by Disney’s family friendly business practises, so to see him fully embrace his violent and slightly raunchy side with this film is simply delightful. This is an insanely violent film, full of set pieces that can be extremely gory, but in such a way that feels stylish and with a hint of self awareness. The film’s unashamedly grotesque approach to a lot of the violence weirdly gives the it a unique energy it can call its own. It also helps heighten the stakes as it shows how unbelievably vulnerable the Suicide Squad are as they are faced with deadly situations with very little probability of actually surviving. People die in this movie and for a lot of it, it’s a complete gamble as to who is even going to make it out of this alive and that feels so invigorating as a viewer since it keeps tensions high without sacrificing much in the way of character potential. That’s the biggest quality about James Gunn’s writing because even when not every joke lands or the film slows down a little bit, it picks itself back up almost instantly without a second thought because he just knows how to write compelling and multi faceted characters you could love and hate at the same time. It’s a tricky balance for any filmmaker but that remains easily his best quality, even if the main central antagonists in this one do fall a bit under the generic side.
The Suicide Squad is one of the most invigorating and refreshing superhero films to come to the big screen in years and a lot of it comes down to James Gunn’s audacious and risky direction that breathes such new life to the DC world. When the film isn’t making you laugh out loud with its great comedy or entertaining you with the breath-taking and gory action on display, it’s still ultimately about a band of flawed criminal individuals who try to save the day by learning to trust each other. That remains James Gunn’s best quality as a storyteller and it translates to this incredibly funny, creative, irreverent and immensely fun romp of a movie. If you’re a person who has grown tired of superhero films as of late, you are doing yourself a disservice by not checking this out since this film tries tons of new things for the genre. Go take a plunge into DC’s band of corrupt villains and check it out for yourself.
FINAL RATING:- 8/10 (GREAT)