A Non-Spoiler Review of The Suicide Squad by Chris “C-Boogie” Brown
“The Suicide Squad” is director James Gunn’s first cinematic foray into the DC comics brand. Although it nearly shares the same title of the 2016 film and features some of its returning characters, this film doesn’t feel like a direct sequel, but more like its own separate entity within the DC Universe. Of the characters returning from the 2016 film, we have Viola Davis as “Amanda Waller”, Joel Kinnaman as “Rick Flag”, Jai Courtney as “Captain Boomerang” and Margot Robbie as “Harley Quinn”. Outside of them, this film introduces us to a whole new set of colorful characters that fill the screen in this incredibly wild ride that James Gunn takes on in this film.
In terms of the basic plot synopsis, Amanda Waller recruits a team of prisoners from Belle Reeve Penitentiary to once again become members of “Task Force X”. This mission calls for the team to travel to a remote island in South America to sieze intel from an old military stronghold that has been taken over by a corrupt group of generals. Similar to the 2016 film, should the prisoners on Waller’s team try to escape their obligation to the mission, the fate of their lives lies in the hands of Waller with a push of a button. For those that successfully survive the infiltration of the stronghold, they find they may have bitten off more than they could chew. Confronted with a set of obstacles by way of rebel soldiers and a huge otherwordly challenge they must overcome, the team must fight not only for their survival, but for the survival of the world!
In viewing this film, it’s abundantly clear that James Gunn had complete authority to make the wildest movie he could with absolutely no restrictions. “The Suicide Squad” is equal parts wild, bizarre, humorous, brutal, and action-packed but overall an entertaining roller coaster ride of a movie! For this film, Gunn dug deep into the DC archives and purposely pulled out some of the most obscure comic characters, brings them to life on screen, and successfully fleshes them out in surprisingly different ways. However, as repeatedly mentioned in the promotion of this film, no character is off limits from being eliminated. That being said, it shouldn’t be surprising to see certain members of Task Force X dispatched of in randomly violent ways.
Speaking of the word “violent”, it has been well documented that this film has an R Rating and Gunn has completely pushed that rating to the limit here. “The Suicide Squad” is full of excessive comic-like brutality, bloodshed, gore and violence that teeters between grounded action scenes and other sequences that deliver a more hyper-exaggerated, sensational style of violence you would find in anime or certain video games. Although a lot of these sequences are executed in an over the top, “tounge-in-cheek” sort of manner with Gunn winking at the audience, this is still the most violent live-action film to come out of the DCEU since its inception in 2013. All that being said, for parents, just because the film’s trailers show a “talking shark”, this is definitely NOT a movie you would want to take children to.
From a technical standpoint, “The Suicide Squad” is well directed and I feel James Gunn’s unique directorial style was a good match for the unconventional heroes, villains, tone and story being told here. From the creative use of chapter titles to help narrate the film down to showing us hilarious scenes that play out through the lens of the characters, you can tell that Gunn is completly in his element here. Gunn also filmed the movie with IMAX cameras and I must say that viewing this film in an IMAX theatre on the large screen was a pretty fantastic and immersive experience.
Aesthetically speaking, the cinematography looks great and the screen is filled with vibrant colors, eye catching visuals, and a great blend of practical effects & excellent CGI throughout. This movie also ramps up the thrills with some huge action set pieces including hand to hand combat, firefights, explosions, escapes and more that are well executed and quite thrilling to watch. In addition, and surprisingly enough, the film actually has a few heartfelt and emotional moments which you wouldn’t necessarily expect based on the promotional trailers released. As offbeat and eccentric as they are, you just may find yourself becoming attached to some of the characters introduced here.
When it comes to the ensemble of characters in the film, some have “much” more to do than others, but each at least gets their own moment to shine. In terms of standouts, Idris Elba is amazing in the role of “Bloodsport” and shows his acting range by perfectly hitting on the variety of emotional, action-oriented, and comical notes that Gunn’s script calls for. John Cena’s “Peacemaker” also has a standout performance here as a violent vigilante who would go to any length possible to keep peace. Bloodsport and Peacekeeper have a lot of back and forth banter between them and share a competitive rivalry of sorts that results in some truly entertaining sequences.
Additionally, all of the returning actors from the 2016 film do a great job and I would personally say this film features my favorite portrayal by Margot Robbie as Harley Quinn thus far. “King Shark”, a character comprised of motion capture technology and CGI, is voiced by Sylvester Stallone and provides both comedic & violent moments during the film. In addition, David Dastmalchian’s “Polka Dot Man” turned out to be a surprisingly entertaining character whose arc I became invested in. Another huge standout for me was Daniela Melchoir who portrays “Ratcatcher 2”. I won’t go into specifics but Daniela’s character has a unique ability, shares great chemistry with the team, and in some ways, acts as the heart of the film.
For all the positives I have about the film, there were just a few minor gripes as I had as well. As you can surmise from the trailers, this film incorporates a lot of humor over the course of its 2 Hour and 12 minute runtime. While most of the comedic bits are genuinely humorous, there are other comedic quips and banter that fell completely flat for me. Additionally, I thought after the excellent first act of the film, the second act had some spots that tended to drag here and there a bit. However, once the momentum picks up and we transition into the huge third act finale, the frantic energy, shocking twists and all out action of the film goes full tilt without slowing down.
Overall, I had a complete blast with “The Suicide Squad” which has now become my favorite James Gunn film. When the movie was first announced, I admittedly had low expectations for it for various reasons and the subsequent trailers didn’t help matters much. However, I’m happy to say that I really enjoyed this film far more than I ever expected to. While it is some parts wild, some parts absurd, some parts gritty, and some parts bizarre, the movie is still a completely fun ride throughout.
The amalgamation of the huge ensemble of quirky characters, dark humor, explosive action, exagerrated violence, and Gunn’s zany filmmaking approach all amounted to a very entertaining time at the cinema! I definitely recommend checking this one out when you can and for those wondering, there are TWO post credit scenes! The Suicide Squad hits theatres & HBO MAX starting August 6th – Enjoy!