The Suicide Squad boasts strong character beats and crisp writing. While there is an overindulgence in gore and violence, the film is engaging enough to keep fans happy.
2016’s Suicide Squad film was divisive and seemingly disavowed by most who’ve worked on it, including director David Ayer himself. Still, there is no denying the commercial appeal. With a near 750 million box office, popular merchandising, and even an Academy Award, the film made the Suicide Squad into a household name, led by Harley Quinn. While Ayer’s cut continues to be left outstanding, something Walter Hamada and WB Brass should strongly consider releasing on HBO Max, the sequel, The Suicide Squad continues the world Ayer built.
Directed by James Gunn, following a quick courtship after Marvel temporarily removed him from Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 after an unearthing of distasteful tweets, The Suicide Squad provided the director something few prior to him in the cinematic universe received, complete director freedom. The Suicide Squad is a James Gunn film in every sense of the word. With his patented-style of humor and a strong sense of character building, the Suicide Squad made each main character believable and likable. Gunn is seemingly at his A-Game in this film, with the writing crisp at almost every turn and a story that is captivating. Yet, it is not without its flaws.
The R-rated comic book film has seen a resurgence following the success of Deadpool. With films like Logan, Joker, and Zack Snyder’s Justice following suit with strong and unique superhero fanfare in the adult medium. Gunn takes this to an extreme level. With blood and gore that rivals even the most drenched horror movies, The Suicide Squad shows you so much violence in so short a time that by the end you feel about as exhausted as the surviving members of the team. While the gore is needed in some places and even used brilliantly in others, the majority of the time it felt like shock value, an aspect that might alienate some viewers from the film.
The Suicide Squad can only go as far as the characters in them, and Gunn picked a few doozies this time. With a much larger Task Force X, much of it simply killing fodder for audiences to munch popcorn and laugh at, we are treated to some of the most obscure names in DC Comics lore. Outside of Harley Quinn and King Shark, almost all other villains will feel brand new to the audience. It’s best not to get attached to any of them, however as they come and go quickly. A difference between 2016’s version, which featured more notable villains like Deadshot and Killer Croc, The Suicide Squad opted for Bloodsport and Peacemaker. Much like Marvel’s Guardians franchise, Gunn has become an expert at taking unknown characters and giving them depth. The actors who played them truly lived up to expectations.
Margot Robbie’s Harley Quinn has become a mainstay in pop culture. With her third appearance as the character, Robbie completely blends into the character, being the most familiar face for the audience and a welcome relief from the carnage of the other Suicide Squad members. That’s not to say Harley doesn’t join in on the action as she has one of the best fight sequences in the film to herself. Idris Elba joins her as the co-star playing Bloodsport. Written obviously as the Deadshot character, even originally reported to be the recast for Will Smith, Elba does the best with what’s available. While many of the character beats are a bit too similar to 2016’s Deadshot appearance, Elba is still great. John Cena’s Peacemaker will quickly be a fan-favorite, which makes sense given his solo HBO Max series on the way. A sort of twisted Captain America clone, Cena makes Peacemaker one of the funniest yet bloodiest characters in the film. With strong performances from Viola Davis and Joel Kinnaman, it’s hard to pick a single stand out but it would have to be Daniella Melchior’s Ratcatcher 2. Melchior brought heart and levity to the ultra-and sometimes nauseatingly-violent film. Ironically the least violent of the group, she became the easiest to route for and trust. Overall, the ensemble is strong and the film is better for it.
The Suicide Squad is not perfect, nor would it sit in the very best of the DC extended universe thus far. Despite character writing, spots of humor felt flat, the gore and raunchiness felt more unneeded than part of the story, and the main villain was fairly weak given it’s a story consisting of only villains. Despite that, it has some of the most interesting characters, strong pacing, and unique visions that the universe has gotten in a solo film. Warner Bros has a long way to go to becoming director-friendly to its DC filmmakers, but The Suicide Squad is a good example of what happens when the studio trusts its director to deliver. A trend that needs to continue, hopefully with Ayer getting his due cut.
The Suicide Squad is a strong, fresh, and ultra-violent sequel that feels distinctly Gunn’s vision through each step.