"The Suicide Squad" stars Margot Robbie, Idris Elba, John Cena, Joel Kinnaman, Sylvester Stallone, Viola Davis, Jai Courtney, and Peter Capaldi. Released on August 5, 2021, the film has Amanda Waller sending a new Task Force X to take down a Nazi-era prison and laboratory.
The film was written and directed by James Gunn, who also directed "Slither", "Super", and "Guardians of the Galaxy". It is a standalone sequel to the 2016 superhero film "Suicide Squad" and the tenth film in the DC Extended Universe. What do you do when the world is in peril and the superheroes are off doing who knows what? Why, you hire a bunch of psychotic supervillains to save it, of course. The DC Extended Universe is back at it again this year, and it is dying to pay its team of villainous convicts another visit. It has been five years since Warner Brothers struggled to compete with Marvel by expanding its superhero cinematic universe. While "Batman v Superman" and "Suicide Squad" did pretty well financially in 2016, both of them failed to impress critics and audiences, mainly the latter. David Ayer's "Suicide Squad" had the potential to be just as fun, gritty, and psychotic as the villains. Unfortunately, the studio's careless actions caused the film to be a disappointing slog, according to critics and audiences. To its credit, however, it did feature Margot Robbie's superb debut as Harley Quinn, and it became the first DCEU film to win an Oscar, but only for makeup and hairstyling. Still a win, nonetheless. Even though I enjoyed the film when it first came out, I can easily understand that the story could've been written better regarding its tone. Similar to how I felt towards the original cut of "Justice League". I'm still waiting on that Ayer cut, by the way. The studio decided to give the supervillain team a major makeover five years later, with writer/director James Gunn taking over for David Ayer. Seeing how successful "Zack Snyder's Justice League" was back in March, it makes sense for Warner Brothers to give this brand a shot at redemption as well. James Gunn recently made himself known on the Hollywood map thanks to his involvement with the "Guardians of the Galaxy" films. Sure, most people knew him from his earlier works like "Super", the live-action Scooby-Doo films, and the "Dawn of the Dead" remake, but it was Marvel's team of galactic criminals that made him capture everyone's attention, including mine. When I heard that Gunn is directing a new "Suicide Squad" film, my expectations were pretty high for what he can do with this band of super-powered nutbags. With Gunn's unique taste in comedy, violence, and visual presentation, this could be another boost Warner Brothers need to keep DC's cinematic franchise alive. With that in mind, let's see if this sequel/reboot is as chaotic as the criminals themselves.
Like Ayer's "Suicide Squad", the story in "The Suicide Squad" focuses on a group of convicts at Belle Reve. One of them is Robert DuBois (Elba), aka "Bloodsport", a mercenary convicted of shooting Superman with a Kryptonite bullet. To shorten his prison sentence and reunite with his daughter Tyla (Storm Reid), he has to join a special task force run by Amanda Waller (Davis) and lead by Rick Flag (Kinnaman). Known as Task Force X, the team consists of Harley Quinn (Robbie), Peacemaker (Cena), King Shark (Stallone), and many other lesser-known villains from DC lore. They are sent to Corto Maltese to infiltrate and destroy Jotunheim, a Nazi-era prison and laboratory known for holding prisoners and conducting dangerous experiments. Using their powers and skills, the members of Task Force X must prevent their latest experiment, Project Starfish, from being unleashed upon the world or die trying. The significant difference between Ayer's "Suicide Squad" and Gunn's version was the visual presentation. David Ayer's (or the studio's) version offered a dark, psychotic, and gritty vibe to its teen-rated graffiti-like style. James Gunn's take on the DC supervillain team had more of an upbeat, ultra-violent, and chaotic tone that the director is known for, resulting in its R rating. Out of those two types of presentation, I would have to go with Gunn's version. No hard feelings, Mr. Ayer. "The Suicide Squad" had this sense of freedom that allowed Gunn to go crazy with the characters, the violence, and the comedy, and yes, people do die horrible deaths. Because of this freedom, the movie became a nutty, balls-to-the-walls pile of colorful guts that's as superbly stylistic as it was gleefully violent. This was something that Warner Brothers should've allowed Ayer to do for his "Suicide Squad" cut five years ago. To have him had the freedom to make a film he wanted to make. Seeing Gunn's version in action showcased how much of an improvement the studio has made regarding its DC Extended Universe. But what about the story itself? How did it compare to Ayer's storytelling in "Suicide Squad"? Well, I can tell you this, it's more vulgar and violent than its predecessor. Other than that, it fell short of greatness and has to settle for goodness, which is better than nothing. The plot did make an effort in putting some depth in its fun and villainous characters, mainly Ratcatcher 2, who is played wonderfully by Daniela Melchior. Unfortunately, the amount of style and gore happened to overshadow its potential to go further beyond its narrative tropes, to make some of the characters more than just criminals who either kill, curse, wind up dead, or all of the above. Gunn has warned us not to get attached to them, and he has kept his word, for better or worse. A prominent example of this was Bloodsport. Idris Elba did a great job portraying this character and providing a solid mixture of humor and charisma. However, his character arc wasn't nearly as rewarding as I thought it would be. It offered a few moments that could've made the character's journey more interesting, like his relationship with his daughter and the team and his rise to leadership, but they never went anywhere with those elements. It also didn't help that its first act felt rushed compared to the rest of the film. I think James Gunn's "Guardians of the Galaxy" handled the criminals-turned-heroes aspect a bit better than "The Suicide Squad" because of the amount of heart and depth that's put into it. The story was still packed with fun scenarios, entertaining action scenes, and some beautiful shots, don't get me wrong. I was hoping for something that would've made the film as memorable as its visuals. As for the rest of the cast, they proved to be just as charming and maniacally insane as the characters they portrayed, with each of them having a shining moment or two. Margot Robbie once again manifested the psychotic and unstable personality of Harley Quinn with terrific results, and John Cena was a ton of fun to watch as Peacemaker. Joel Kinnaman was once again suitable in his role as Rick Flag, and Stallone did a great job voicing King Shark. I also have to give props to Viola Davis, who was perfectly cast as Amanda Waller. Waller is just as ruthless and selfish as she was in the first "Suicide Squad" film, and Davis had the right amount of anger and stubbornness in her acting talent to make this character work for me. You seriously don't want to be near Viola Davis when she's ticked off. Thanks to James Gunn's direction, the film balanced the gory violence with its offbeat adult humor. There were a lot of parts that were either hilarious, shocking, or both. It fits exceptionally well with its brutal tone and gorgeous style.
Overall, James Gunn's "The Suicide Squad" is a vibrant blast of gory fun that works as a sequel and a redo. While its story wasn't nearly as eye-popping as its distinctive visuals, the film managed to keep the DC Extended Universe train going thanks to its highly entertaining cast, visual presentation, enjoyable scenarios, and Gunn's direction. I wouldn't say that it's a masterpiece when it comes to the genre. However, I can say that I had a great time watching it, and I believe other people who aren't fans of its predecessor will feel the same way. Although, their taste may vary regarding the film's tasteless tone.