The Suicide Squad: Film Review

The Suicide Squad

Courtesy of Warner Bros.

The original Suicide Squad, directed by David Ayer and released in 2016, wasn’t exactly received well (to put it mildly) so it would understandable if you had some reservations about this standalone sequel, but let me assure you that James Gunn‘s outing is very different and totally awesome.

Once again, inmates of Belle Reve prison are recruited by Amanda Waller (Viola Davis) to become a part of Task Force X – aka The Suicide Squad – in exchange for shaving time off their sentences. This time around the convicts – including Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie), Rick Flag (Joel Kinnaman), Bloodsport (Idris Elba), Peacemaker (John Cena), Nanaue/King Shark (voiced by Sylvester Stallone) and Ratcatcher II (Daniela Melchior), among many more – are sent to the South American island of Corto Maltese to destroy the Nazi-era lab Jotunheim, where inhumane experiments have been conducted for years under the watchful eye of Gaius Grieves (Peter Capaldi). It is also said to contain Project Starfish, an extra-terrestrial that could be used against America.

Ayer’s 2016 movie was very dark and serious and Gunn does a complete 180 and makes his version of Suicide Squad incredibly fun. It is an absolute blast from start to finish. It is hilarious – there is so much black comedy in this – boisterous, loud, ballsy, chaotic and such a riot. It is also seriously violent and gory, with blood and guts everywhere, so it’s definitely not for the faint-hearted.

If you’re familiar with Gunn’s previous work – such as Slither and the Guardians of the Galaxy franchise – then you’ll have an idea about his sense of humour and know what to expect with Suicide Squad. I’m a big fan of his work and I think his writing is extremely funny so this suited my tastes perfectly. The film doesn’t take itself seriously at all and most of what you see is very tongue-in-cheek. The action is also pretty non-stop and there are a few very cool setpieces, with my favourite being Harley’s escape scene.

Unlike those Marvel movies, it seems Gunn was given pretty much rein to make this film as adult, provocative and gruesome as he liked, and given that it’s a standalone movie, it also seems like he was allowed to do what he liked with the characters. There are so many (the list above just scratches the surface) and none of them are safe (theoretically speaking, there are some DC would never kill off). Some of them are dispatched in a shockingly violent fashion and that felt refreshing, not knowing exactly who would make it to the end.

Gunn has absolute control over the tone and the style he’s going for. Each character looked like a superhero from a different era, which was deliberate, and Harley’s look has been paired back to her classic red and black colour scheme. There are also some very cool stylistic flourishes elsewhere. For example, for the chapter headings and time stamps, Gunn uses materials in the scene to spell out the words – sometimes these were hard to read but I appreciated the idea.

Robbie’s Harley is always the star of the show and she once again steals every scene she’s in. She has so much unhinged chaotic energy and I couldn’t take my eyes off her. I also enjoyed Elba as the reluctant leader Bloodsport and his banter with Cena’s Peacemaker over who is a more formidable opponent. King Shark is a fantastic addition, his need to feed on humans is very funny (and violent), and there’s a running gag with Polka-Dot Man (David Dastmalchian) that cracked me up every time. Most of the characters have the opportunity for comedy, with the exception of Flag – who is as bland as ever – and Ratcatcher II, my favourite newcomer. She is the heart of the film and it was like a breath of fresh air having such a nice character to get invested in. And she has a pet rat named Sebastian!

I cannot overstate how much fun The Suicide Squad is. I highly recommend it!

In cinemas from Friday 30th July

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

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