Following the critical panning, fan disappointment and failed spinoffs resulting from David Ayer’s 2016 Suicide Squad, many believed the franchise wouldn’t continue. Despite the film’s success at the box office, along with the popularity of Margot Robbie’s take on Harley Quinn, there was significant radio silence on the news of a sequel. However, following the surprise firing of James Gunn from Disney’s Guardians of the Galaxy franchise, Warner Bros quickly approached the director to helm his own DC creation – allowing him to pick from any of their comic book titles. The result is a soft reboot/spiritual continuation to the original, and with Gunn freed from PG-13 restraints – prepare for an absolutely crazy (and gory!) thrill ride.
Directed by James Gunn (The Guardians of the Galaxy franchise and Super) The Suicide Squad centres on a sprawling collection of misfits and super-villains from Belle Reve prison, assembled by Amanda Waller (Viola Davis) and her techie team to complete a deadly mission. Armed and dropped on the remote island of Corto Maltese, the squad, lead by Colonel Rick Flag (Joel Kinnaman) must trek through the jungle, taking down any militant adversaries and guerrilla forces who stand in their way, to destroy all traces of a secret project coined “Starfish”. Can Task Force X successfully complete the assignment and make it out in one piece…?
James Gunn has dialled the comic book movie up to 11 with The Suicide Squad, for one of the most unabashedly bonkers, colourful, action-packed and surprisingly emotional DC outings. Set within a narrative structure very much like an old war movie, the expendable villains are sent on a search and destroy mission, battling against all the odds (and their team members) along the way. While it starts off as just another crazy expedition, there’s a number of bold twists, turns and surprises throughout, which will certainly keep you on the edge of your seat. Gunn has also fully committed to some of the most shocking bloody gore and violence (thanks mainly to the brilliantly adorable King Shark), showing his aptitude for the horror genre.
Despite the absolute carnage on offer, the director and writer has cleverly balanced the script with a surprising amount of hilarious and emotional moments wonderfully brought to life by the ensemble cast. Tonally this can be jarring at times, and you certainly feel a bit of whiplash with the breakneck pace and constant jumps between horror, comedy and drama. However, once you’ve embraced the balls-to-wall approach and said goodbye to conventions, you can sit back and enjoy the thrill-ride.
Much like in Guardians of the Galaxy, James Gunn has brought a surprising amount of emotional depth to the vast array of villains and anti-heroes, and has included some of the most hilariously terrible and out-there DC characters yet. Two of the real standouts of the film are David Dastmalchian’s Polka Dot Man (a character who has previously been voted one of the worst DC villains) along with Daniela Melchior’s Ratchatcher II. Despite their relatively unknown and/or lowly status in the DC universe, Gunn has crafted two beautiful and notably impactful arcs for these characters, with both actors clearly relishing the transformative aspects of their roles. Idris Elba also excels as the reluctant leader (with a hilariously sarcastic attitude), sharing spirited ongoing displays of one-upmanship with John Cena’s Peacemaker and Joel Kinnaman’s Rick Flag – as they all compete to outdo each other throughout the movie
Cena, who’s set to star in his own spinoff HBO show, perhaps unsurprisingly called Peacemaker, is absolutely hilarious at portraying the douche-y soldier – and you can tell he’s absolutely loving every minute of playing the character. Fan favourite Harley Quinn also returns, with Margot Robbie once again on top form following Birds of Prey with another fun performance – while Sylvester Stallone’s King Shark steals a lot of the scenes by being undoubtedly the cutest (and most deadly) team member. Together, the ensemble cast’s fantastic dynamic really does elevate the plot, and you truly do root for the rag tag bunch throughout. It’s clear to see that they all had a blast making this film and it really does permeate throughout their performances.
However there’s undoubtedly an overload in the antagonist department, with Gunn acting like a kid in a sweet shop overfilling his pick and mix bag. Alongside the giant CGI Kaiju, Starro the conqueror (an old school Justice League comic book villain) there’s Peter Capaldi’s eccentric scientist The Thinker, the Corto Maltese political group who has overthrown the established monarchy and Viola Davis’ Amanda Waller who takes a more dangerous turn – behaving worse than the actual villains she’s controlling at times. Overall, the sheer amount of enemies feels a little overwhelming.
I absolutely adored the visual identity of this film, it’s just so colourful and vibrant – feeling like one of the best live-action comic book adaptations yet. The size and scale of the practical sets, particularly the beach sequence with the added explosions and pyrotechnics, really does feel impressively real and so well constructed. They prove to be a brilliant backdrop to the action set pieces and fantastically choreographed fight sequences. Margot Robbie particularly excels in one of the standout brawl scenes, with the use of props and her signature gymnastic moves. Costume designer Judianna Majosky and the VFX team truly excel at bringing the team’s signature looks and powers to life, particularly with Peacemaker’s hilarious helmet, Polka Dot’s colourful powers and Bloodsport’s impressive tech weapons.
The staggering amount of people who worked on the film’s visual effects, predominantly for King Shark, Starro, Sebastian the rat and Weasel, did a phenomenal job in adapting the weird but visually intriguing characters. As this is directed by James Gunn, the soundtrack is once again on point – with a collection of old and new tracks brilliantly timed for a number of funny and very appropriate needle drops. Composer John Murphy perfectly compliments the soundtrack with his heavy rock inspired score, with standout “So This Is the Famous Suicide Squad” hitting particularly hard. And yes – make sure you stick around for a post-credits scene!
The Suicide Squad is the most bonkers, unpredictable & gory comic book movie I’ve seen yet! Fun from start to finish, director James Gunn has brought so much heart and humour to this ragtag bunch of misfits, fully surpassing expectations. Hopefully this is the beginning of a continuation for the absurd and fully deranged franchise, as Gunn really has crafted a brilliantly entertaining thrill ride with a fantastic cast.
The Suicide Squad is in cinemas 30th July