James Gunn brings us a comic book film a cut above the rest to the big screen with The Suicide Squad. His signature style of film-making shines through in a giddy, visceral, bloody, silly amalgamation of elements that, ultimately, long-time fans of DC will be very pleased with. Despite the phenomenal effort from Gunn, you still leave The Suicide Squad with some pieces missing from the jigsaw.
Written by Alex Gilston
If you’re aware of the comics or even the 2016 film adaptation Suicide Squad you’ll know how all of this goes. Some of DC Comics’ most notorious super villains are used by the US military to do their bidding in exchange for a shortened prison sentence. As an extra precaution they fit also fit them with an explosive device so if they stray away from the mission they can be promptly terminated. Going into James Gunn’s The Suicide Squad, this is all you need to know. We’re thrown straight into the action as characters including Captain Boomerang, Weasel, and Harley Quinn are sent on an important mission to Corto Maltese. The twists and turns come instantly and as stated in the promotion leading up to the film's release they take “Don’t get too attached” to a whole new level. We’re then introduced to Bloodsport (Idris Elba) and this is where the story properly kicks in. Him and the rest of the squad must terminate some incriminating information and the intergalactic threat that comes along with it. The story is the more lacklustre side of The Suicide Squad, but this does end up giving James Gunn a chance to play around with character, and aesthetic in a focused way.
The Suicide Squad boasts a stacked cast which in turn brings out some very memorable characters. From the return of Jai Courtney’s Captain Boomerang, to Nathan Fillion as hands on TDK, to Michael Rooker as sharp shooter Savant, and Sean Gunn’s strange Weasel. David Dastmalchian is extraordinary as Polka Dot Man, a character whose power is literally to fire polka dots at people. This is something that we know James Gunn is great at when it comes to comic book movies. If he can make us care for a talking raccoon and a literal tree, then of course it’s going to be easy for him to make us care about characters like Polka Dot Man, or Nanaue (a humanoid shark voiced by Sylvester Stallone). It also ups the emotional stakes because you know that they could be killed off at a moments notice at any time throughout the 120 minute run time.
Although the film is an ensemble affair Idris Elba acts as the glue holding everyone together in the ‘main’ role. Another big surprise was John Cena as Peacemaker. Cena gets a big range to work with, absolutely nailing the comedy but also delivering a more serious performance at a moments notice. Margot Robbie returns as DCEU fan favourite Harley Quinn and she’s as good as ever. As with characters like Wolverine and Hugh Jackman, it’s hard to imagine anyone else playing the role at this point. Comparatively to the 2016 Suicide Squad, Quinn’s characterisation is a lot better albeit still problematic. The problem is that it seems to ignore what the character went through in, one of the best DCEU movies to date, Birds of Prey. At points in The Suicide Squad, Harley Quinn was begging for the input of Cathy Yan, who so tremendously held the reigns over her in Birds Of Prey.
You can tell James Gunn is having as much fun as possible here, and really packing in the gore, and swearing, and adult themes which he wouldn’t be able to in an otherwise family friendly Marvel environment. But although it’s over the top in every way possible, it never goes too far. A colourful delight from start to finish The Suicide Squad is a film not to be missed and it has to be considered a real redemption to what we were offered in the 2016 adaptation which was devoid of everything that this edition has in droves.