Note: This review is written in a way as to not reveal who lives and dies in the film. There are very few survivors and you do not want to be spoiled as to who makes it out alive.
A franchise I have desperately been wanting to love is Warner Bros’ DC Extended Universe, which started all the way back with Zack Snyder’s Man of Steel (2013). Unfortunately, the franchise has been riddled with controversy after controversy, and has been extremely hit-and-miss with their films’ quality. With every fantastic film like Man of Steel, , Wonder Woman (2017), and Shazam (2019), DC and WB have also put out several mediocre to horrible films. So, when Warner Bros backed up the trucks of money to recruit James Gunn (the phenomenal director behind Slither (2006), Guardians of the Galaxy (2014) and Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 (2017)), I was extremely excited to see if James Gunn’s sensibilities would make for a fantastic DC film experience and make a serviceable sequel to the mixed-reviewed Suicide Squad (2016), and OH MY GOD—The Suicide Squad is utterly brilliant and is easily DC’s best film in this franchise’s universe.
The Suicide Squad (2021) follows a new eclectic group of minor and bizarre DC villains, incarcerated in Belle Reve Prison, that have been recruited for Amanda Waller’s (played by Viola Davis) Task Force X, a.k.a. the Suicide Squad. The mission: get dropped off on the anti-American coast of Corto Maltese and destroy all traces of the mysterious Project Starfish. If they abandon mission, Waller will cause the implanted explosives in their heads to explode. If they make a single mistake, the enemy will kill them. If they don’t get along, they may just kill each other. No matter the circumstance, James Gunn’s newest gore-filled dark comedy has nothing but terrible fates planned for these irreverent ne’er-do-well’s as they try to save the world. So, don’t get too attached.
Contrary to popular belief, it is actually not always a good thing to let a movie’s director to do whatever they want, and studios should almost always have their hands in the kitchen—it is their money getting spent after all. That said, Warner Bros clearly told James Gunn to make whatever he want, and thank the heavens they did—this thrill ride film is 100% pure James Gunn (with maybe with a little bit of cocaine thrown in). Just about everything in this film works on all cylinders: the script, score/soundtrack, costumes and makeup, cinematography, color grading, acting, action, visual effects, and I could go on and on. Even with all the gore, humor, and outrageousness, James Gunn was able to create a new and unique take on the superhero genre while also delivering geopolitical commentary, copious amounts of heart, and deep emotional moments. If this film has a flaw, in my eyes, it is some of the pacing in the film and certain shots/scenes not being compacted and made more concise—this film could have easily shaved off 10-15 minutes. That said, this film definitely not palatable for everyone—if you hate violence/blood/gore (this film’s violence reminded me of Kill Bill‘s Crazy 88 scene and went even further), strong language, or dark quirky humor, this is not the film for you. If you can handle all the above, you will absolutely love it.
While this is a sequel to the 2016 film, only Viola Davis, Margot Robbie (as Harley Quinn), Joel Kinnaman (as Rick Flag), and Jai Courtney (as Captain Boomerang) return for this mission. All of them fit back in this time around and their star power shines even brighter this time around as they received much better, and more fleshed out characters. While they were all great, it was the newcomers to the Squad that stole the show. Idris Elba’s Bloodsport, John Cena’s Peacemaker, Nathan Fillion’s TDK, Michael Rooker’s Savant, Sean Gunn’s Weasel: all absolutely fantastic and loved every second with them. Pete Davidson’s Blackguard, Mayling Ng’s Mongal, Peter Capaldi’s Thinker, Flula Borg’s Javelin: all great and brought fantastic levity and comedic sensibilities. There is not a single performance in this film that I thought felt out of place or fell flat—everyone was phenomenal. By far the biggest standouts, though, were David Dastmalchian, Daniela Melchior, and Sylvester Stallone as Polka-Dot Man, Ratcatcher 2, and King Shark, respectively. All three of these characters stole every single scene they were in and absolutely made the film as fantastic as it was. Overall, this film may have one of the best ensemble casts in a superhero film (Avengers: Endgame‘s portal scene not included).
The above-and-beyond performances, the brutality and gore, and the irreverent dark humor that comes with any R-rated James Gunn film, all come together and delivers a fun-filled, tongue-in-cheek superhero thrill ride. Other than a few pacing issues, this film is near-flawless for film fans that love this kind of movie. The Suicide Squad is definitely a film that must be seen in cinemas, on the biggest screen you can possibly watch it on for the full experience (support theaters if you’re vaxxed, it will be on HBOMax for a few more weeks if you’re not), and is easily in my top three favorite films of the year so far.
The Suicide Squad (2021) is rated R for strong violence and gore, language throughout, some sexual references, drug use and brief graphic nudity.
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