In the world of monster budget, tentpole, comic book filmmaking, there are very few directors that are allowed or possess the uncompromising nature that is the tour de force known as James Gunn. Gunn is basically given carte blanche to recreate The Suicide Squad in his own image after the disappointing David Ayer version of the film (which reeked of producer and studio interference). Learning from past mistakes has netted Warner Brothers and DC a bonafide gamechanger, much needed after the disappointing returns on the Harley Quinn movie and Wonder Woman 1984, plus both versions of the terrible Justice League.
Ignoring any connection to the previous film, The Suicide Squad starts with a familiar recruitment montage where Amanda Waller (Viola Davis) recruits Savant (Michael Rooker) to join a team led by holdovers from the previous film Col Rick Flagg (Joel Kinnaman) and Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie). Along with the rest of their team, Blackguard (Pete Davidson), Javelin (Flula Borg), Weasel (Sean Gunn), Mongal (Mayling Ng), Capt Boomerang (Jai Courtney), and T.D.K. (Nathan Fillion), the group is dropped directly into a deep fire operation on the beach of Corto Maltese, where they are promptly ambushed and left to fend for themselves.
Unbeknownst to them, there’s a whole separate team being dropped on another part of the island led by Bloodsport (Idris Elba) and his team consisting of Peacemaker (John Cena), Ratcatcher 2 (Daniela Melchior), King Shark (Voiced by Sylvester Stallone), and Polka-Dot Man (David Dastmalchian). The Corto Maltese government is friendly to the US but it is overthrown in a military coup. So Waller has sent them there to infiltrate the fortress of Jotunhiem and retrieve what’s inside. But with Waller, nothing is ever what it appears to be. And Bloodsport and members of both teams soon discover they have been deceived all along.
This king-size synopsis only scratches the surface of what really happens in The Suicide Squad, as Gunn takes the audience on one hell of a twisting ride. It’s an irreverent and bloody take on the traditional superhero tale in which no member of the team is truly safe as many can and will die in a horrific fashion. Gunn’s Guardians of the Galaxy experience also comes through when dealing with fully CGI rendered characters, as in those films he has 2 fully CGI rendered characters here with King Shark (motion-captured by Steve Agee) and Weasel. Both are presented as believable and meticulously rendered to flow evenly with the rest of the cast.
Speaking of the cast, which is immense, most of them deliver strong performances throughout the film. But a few still manage to outshine the others. John Cena’s role as Peacemaker may be as life-changing for him as Dave Bautista’s turn as Drax in Guardians was. His charisma and presence are unmistakable but it’s his flawless comedic timing that may surprise many. Daniela Melchor becomes the heart of the team. And it’s a charming performance that includes flashbacks to her father, who is portrayed by the incomparable Taika Waititi.
Viola Davis finally delivers the Amanda Waller fans have been waiting for, a stone-hearted bitch who will stop at nothing to achieve her directive, no matter who she has to maim or kill. The rest of the team is solid too. Elba delivers and Robbie is so dialed in on Harley Quinn now in her 3rd time around she could probably channel Quinn in her sleep. And Stallone’s King Shark is a lumbering dullard in this film, which may upset fans of the excellent Ron Funches version of the character in the Harley Quinn animated series, but he gives Nanue enough boyish charm mixed in with his performance that it will sway most to his side. Plus the body ripping sequence is excellent.
The story may sound convoluted. But Gunn gives it more than enough time to breathe and develop naturally, keeping the audience fully invested along the way. Plus there’s always a sense of stakes and consequences within the film, something sorely lacking in the last Justice League film from Zack Snyder. It’s smart and funny and hits audiences in a very similar fashion as the original Guardians did, but mixed with the irreverence and gore of Deadpool, a series I personally would love to see Gunn take on next after Guardians 3.
The Suicide Squad is large, loud, and bombastic, and everything an audience could want out of a summer popcorn flick. While the gore may be too much for the pre-teen crowd, this film should hit amazingly well with the rest of the audience. This film deserves to be seen on the biggest bloody screen possible for maximum impact. Any chance to safely see this film in IMAX is highly encouraged. As much as fans are clamoring for more Guardians of the Galaxy, The Suicide Squad will have them praying that Gunn gets to return for another run with these anti-heroes.
- Rated: 14A
- Genre: Action, Comedy, Comic Book
- Release Date: 8/06/2021
- Directed by: James Gunn
- Starring: Alice Braga, Daniela Melchior, David Dastmalchian, Flula Borg, Idris Elba, Jai Courtney, Joel Kinnaman, John Cena, Margot Robbie, Mayling Ng, Michael Rooker, Nathan Fillion, Pete Davidson, Peter Capaldi, Sean Gunn, Steve Agee, Sylvester Stallone, Taika Waititi, Viola Davis
- Produced by: Chantal Nong Vo, Charles Roven, Deborah Snyder, Lars P. Winther, Nikolas Korda, Peter Safran, Richard Suckle, Simon Hatt, Walter Hamada, Zack Snyder
- Written by: James Gunn
- Studio: Warner Bros