Here’s our review of “The Suicide Squad” as James Gunn takes over as writer and director for this updated team of villains tasked to complete a mission where most aren’t expected to survive….
By Damon Martin — Editor/Lead Writer
It’s not easy for a writer and director to take one group of relatively unknown characters and transform them into household names with fans but doing that twice would seem nearly impossible.
Enter James Gunn, who previously accomplished an incredible feat by making “Guardians of the Galaxy” a massive franchise for Marvel with names like Star-Lord, Gamora, Drax and Groot who were unknown to even the most hardcore comic book lovers.
Now in 2021, Gunn is doing it all over again with his new film “The Suicide Squad,” which does feature at least one recognizable name with Harley Quinn but she’s surrounded with characters like Bloodsport, Peacemaker, King Shark and Polka-Dot Man that sound more like a bad “Saturday Night Live” spoof than the latest franchise film from DC and Warner Bros.
Of course, there was a previous “Suicide Squad” film in 2016, which was so bad that even the director David Ayer has fought tooth and nail to disassociate himself with after the studio allegedly wrecked his actual plans for the movie.
The revamped version from Gunn manages to actually use some of the same actors playing the same exact characters from that 2016 disaster, except he has the tone, the story and the execution on screen down to a science. Gunn doesn’t waste a lot of time — actually none at all — trying to reveal a long, extended origin story for his characters but instead tosses them into a Normandy style beach invasion that feels like something out of “Saving Private Ryan” rather than a comic book movie.
Over the course of the film, Gunn manages to give everybody enough screen time to either help flesh out backstories or paint them with a broad enough brush that the audience will fully understand the machinations driving everybody involved with this team.
The end result is a totally ridiculous, utterly violent and absolutely fantastic film that’s worth watching multiple times.
With that said, let’s get to our full review for James Gunn’s “The Suicide Squad”…
The film wastes no time jumping right into the action with a new Task Force X — aka The Suicide Squad — being put together by mysterious government agent Amanda Waller to storm the beaches of the Corto Maltese after a military coup has led to a change in power. Unfortunately Corto Maltese was also the site where an experiment was being conducted that could result in a potentially huge threat to the United States.
With casualties almost certain and a mission that needs to be completed off the books, Waller assembles her new team led by Colonel Rick Flag and a former special-ops soldier turned assassin named Robert Dubois aka Bloodsport to storm the island of Corto Maltese, take out the new leadership and ensure that something called Project Starfish never sees the light of day again.
ACTING, DIRECTING AND SCRIPT
If you’re a fan of James Gunn and any of his past films, you’ll see his fingerprints all over “The Suicide Squad” and it stands to reason considering he was in charge of both direction and the script for this movie.
Gunn has more fun playing with the island of misfit toys than anybody in the history of Hollywood, not only because he can somehow take characters like King Shark and Polka-Dot Man and make an audience care about them on a much deeper level than one could ever possibly imagine.
To make this movie, Gunn seemingly took the encyclopedia of characters from the DC Universe, flipped all the way to the end of the book and specifically chose the most obscure people possible to serve as his new Task Force X. Despite no prior connection with the audience outside of a few recognizable faces like Harley Quinn or Captain Boomerang, Gunn gives these unknown characters all sorts of personality — some lovable, others not so much but it’s a riot watching them all trying to form a cohesive unit without any sort of formal training to get the job done together.
Add to that, Gunn ups the stakes in a big way with this film because they’re not called the Suicide Squad for nothing.
As for the cast of characters — Margot Robbie was made to play Harley Quinn and she delivers in every way possible in the third film where she’s portrayed the maniacal yet lovable psychiatrist turned psychopath. Some will laugh at this suggestion but Robbie honestly deserves some award attention for this part, especially the way she’s made this character her own through three movies.
To absolutely no one’s surprise, Idris Elba kills it in his role as Bloodsport but it’s the supporting pieces around these two lead characters that really bring “The Suicide Squad” into focus.
John Cena is quickly becoming a well-tuned comedic action star and thankfully we’ll get to see him in this role again in the new “Peacemaker” series that counts Gunn as the creator and showrunner. The impossibly talented David Dastmalchain steals more than a few scenes in this film as the Polka-Dot Man while newcomer Daniela Melchior stars as Ratcatcher 2 and you might as well get used to seeing her name because her performance is going to earn her a lot of callbacks in the near future.
From the outside, it’s hard to imagine all of these puzzle pieces fitting together but Gunn knows his cast and his characters and that’s what makes “The Suicide Squad” work so well.
WHAT’S WRONG WITH THE MOVIE?
Very little but if there was one very minor complaint it would be a sequence midway through the film that puts Harley Quinn in the spotlight in an almost fever-dream, acid trip series of events following her capture by enemy forces — and before you say that’s a spoiler, this has already been revealed in the trailer.
Now more Harley Quinn is never a bad thing but it almost feels like this scene was kind of shoe-horned into the movie just to make sure she didn’t disappear for a little while as the rest of the team orchestrated a rescue plan — and once again that’s also in the trailer.
It would also be easy to potentially complain about the somewhat inept military opposing Task Force X in the movie, especially considering they supposedly just led an uprising to take over an entire country yet struggle to face off with a dozen or so not-so super villains. That said, give me a thousand more Corto Maltese soldiers over The Enchantress any day.
Plus as much as the military forces in “The Suicide Squad” feel like they’re getting suited up for a “Hogan’s Heroes” remake, the big bad reveal towards the end of the movie just makes up for everything that happens before that.
While DC is still struggling to put together a lineup that comes anywhere close to Marvel, the studio has found a bona fide hit with “The Suicide Squad.”
Gunn was the absolute perfect writer and director to recruit for this movie and he delivers with a good script, great action and a phenomenal cast. When this movie is over, you’ll be asking for more — and don’t worry, it’s coming because the “Peacemaker” series starring John Cena has already wrapped up production.
This summer hasn’t exactly been filled with blockbusters but looking back at the past few months, “The Suicide Squad” might just be the best of the bunch once it’s all said and done.
“The Suicide Squad” gets 4 out of 5 on the Skolnick Scale: