Does anyone remember the amazing Bohemian Rhapsody trailer for Suicide Squad back in 2016? Based on the ’60s and ’80s comic books, the Suicide Squad is a team of imprisoned and expendable D-list supervillains who undertake high-risk black ops missions in exchange for reduced sentences. The potential and anticipation of David Ayer‘s 2016 adaptation crashed and burned as we were given a tonal mess of a movie caused by studio meddling. Five years later, we now have a sequel/ do-over from writer & director James Gunn. Does The Suicide Squad improve on the adventures of anti-heroes or is it an explosive mess?
Under the orders of Amanda Waller (Viola Davis), thirteen inmates from Belle Reve penitentiary are “recruited” as Task Force X for a search-and-destroy mission in Jötunheim, a WW2-era prison/ laboratory. The team includes crazed criminal Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie), hitman Bloodsport (Idris Elba), extremist Peacemaker (John Cena) man-eating King Shark (Sylvester Stallone), and robber Ratcatcher 2 (Daniela Melchior). Also included in the team are metahumans Polka-Dot Man (David Dastmalchian) and T.D.K. (Nathan Fillion), Australian thief Captain Boomerang (Jai Courtney), computer hacker Savant (Michael Rooker), mercenary Blackguard (Pete Davidson), athlete Javelin (Flula Borg), alien warrior Mongal (Mayling Ng) and cannibalistic Weasel (Sean Gunn). Armed with high-tech weapons and explosives in their skulls, they trek through the dangerous jungle of Corto Maltese, with only Col. Rick Flag (Joel Kinnaman) to keep them on the narrow as they uncover government secrets.
It’s almost a night and day comparison on how much has changed between the two Suicide Squad movies. Back in 2016, DC Films were rushing their own cinematic universe to compete with Marvel and their franchise very quickly took a massive nosedive. It’s clear now that they’ve more or less given up creating a universe and are just letting filmmakers do any project they want, as seen in 2019’s Joker. And once again, DC giving one filmmaker the chance to do anything he wants with The Suicide Squad makes for one of the insane and entertaining movies to come from the comic book movie trend. This sequel/ remake improves on every single element that the 2016 film tried to do. It’s almost ironic that James Gunn took over as DC tried to re-edit the dark and gritty 2016 movie that Ayer wanted into something similar to Guardians of the Galaxy or Deadpool. Gunn, however, took the franchise in a completely different direction and went back to his old low-budget horror/ punk rock roots and created a cartoonishly gory military movie and embraces some of the strangest corners of the comic books.
Gunn’s love for the weird and the obscure shines yet again as he brings attention to some of the dumbest and silliest villains from DC, yet he also manages to make them sympathetic. Who would have thought that some of the most emotionally engaging moments would come from characters named the Polka-Dot Man or Ratcatcher 2? While the film treats the predictable and somewhat lengthy premise seriously, the characters inhabiting the world bring a lot of self-aware humour to the table. The movie knows how dumb John Cena looks wearing a “Toilet seat on his head” and how bonkers the final act is. The ensemble cast brings a lot of passion and joy to the movie, with the few returning actors like Robbie, Davis, Kinnaman, and Courtney getting to do different things with their characters. The new additions to the cast get to play lovable and hilarious scumbags, with some lasting longer than others as they run around in wacky costumes shouting F-Bombs at each other.
Overall, The Suicide Squad is one of the craziest, yet refreshing movies to come out of the comic book movie boom. The movie fully embraces and celebrates everything weird and obscure from the panels to the screen, with an incredible ensemble cast of wacky characters taking you along a mostly predictable, but still fun ride. I would absolutely recommend this movie as it’s the best DCEU to come out and one of the best movies of 2021. Just maybe don’t bring the kids.