90 / 100
Watchable Minutes : All of them, especially if you’ve seen the 2016 Ayer version. This took what was enjoyable from the first movie and repackaged it into a more entertaining form factor.
Trailer Comparison :
Movie or Film : The Suicide Squad is another blockbuster comic book movie plain and simple, no film elements here.
- Run time :
- Studio : Warner Bros.
- Director : James Gunn
- Where to Watch : HBO Max, In Theaters
So as a primer for those who don’t have time to keep up with all the DC Cinematic Universe nonsense, Suicide Squad 2016 was directed by David Ayer and it did not perform well at all. It was a total strikeout of a movie that just fell completely flat and didn’t live up to the hype in any meaningful way. Fast forward a few years later and you have a Harley Quinn movie that references the events of the 2016 Suicide Squad movie, which leads us to believe that it’s still cannon. That’s my assumption going forward because of several key elements in the 2021 sequel so keep that in mind. James Gunn has said that when making the 2021 movie, he would not contradict the events of the 2016 version.
I’m not going to go through point by point of what’s different between the two movies because in my opinion, they both stand on their own as entry #1 and entry #2 into the live action suicide squad series in my mind. James Gunn’s The Suicide Squad is an entertaining and hilarious adventure into the underworld of DC. It feels akin to Shazam from a few years back because it is so starkly different from the DC movies that fill in the other gaps in the DC universe. I applaud Warner Bros. for snapping up Gunn from the clutches of Disney and Marvel to let him run wild with the DC catalog of characters for a little while. I think it’s just what the franchise needs, somebody who has proven themselves time and time again in the comic book realm and Gunn is one of the best, that’s for sure. His work with Guardians of The Galaxy made him the ideal candidate. So what’s to like about this movie? The story is interesting, easy to follow, and full of witty one liners that make us want to side with a bunch of crazed lunatic super villains. The casting is top tier, even for the bit characters. And then there’s that classic James Gunn soundtrack where the songs tell just as much of the story as the action does.
So let’s get started with the story. The story begins with a pincer maneuver, not the temporal kind from TENET, but the distracting kind. Joel Kinnaman’s Col. Rick Flag leads a group of deranged nobody villains to the beach as fodder to distract the armed combatants hiding in the tree line. On the far side of the island, the real team consisting of Bloodsport, Peacemaker, King Shark, and Ratcatcher 2, and Polka-Dot Man lands and proceeds with their mission. As the Rick Flag group disintegrates from lack of leadership, most of the team is killed. We see Harley Quinn and Flag captured by opposing groups, which leads to some interesting situations as the other team, dubbed Task Force X is tasked with the side quest of rescuing Flag. Once “rescued”, Flag then puts them on a new side quest to rescue Harley. After all the rescuing is complete, we follow Task Force X through their mission as they begin to understand the true nature of what they are tasked to do. They learn that Project Starfish has American roots and that we’ve been funding its development for years while keeping a puppet government in place. Task Force X is split against itself, as Peacemaker acts on behalf of Amanda Waller and tries to prevent that knowledge from becoming public. Several deaths occur and the remaining members of Task Force X (Blood Sport, Ratcatcher 2, Harley Quinn, and King Shark) use the Project Starfish data as leverage to bet set free from Amanda Waller’s control, cut to black and fade in credits on a well designed story filled with echoes of influence. Many would draw comparisons to The Dirty Dozen and The Great Escape, both of which Gunn has prominently declared he drew inspiration from. Aside from that, the entire story is filled with quips and one liners that are palatable and easily digestible for a large audience. There aren’t really any deep cut jokes that extensive knowledge of the DC universe would be required to understand, which is a big plus. The barrier to entry for The Suicide Squad is surprisingly nonexistent, which is exactly what a movie like this needs. It was fun and relaxing to watch this movie, with stakes that weren’t so large that they escaped the grasp of reality completely.
The casting of this movie left nothing on the table, Gunn brought every single character to life and then some. While the alpha team lead by Kinnaman as Rick Flag was filled with expendables, their few minutes on the screen were hilarious and endearing. For example, Nathan Fillion as The Detachable Kid was downright ridiculous and totally out of nowhere. The same goes for Jai Courtney as Capt. Boomerang and Pete Davidson as Blackguard, the dregs of DC villains. And you can’t have a Gunn movie without Michael Rooker or Sean Gunn, who portrayed Savant and Weasel respectively.
As for the original Task Force X team, they were cast just as perfectly. Kinnaman reprised his role as Col. Rick Flag with the same intensity as his debut. John Cena WAS Peacemaker and did such a fine job that he earned himself a mini-series on HBO Max, also helmed by James Gunn. Idris Elba was the perfect choice to replace Will Smith’s Deadshot as Bloodsport. He filled the same role with a difference pedigree and it made all the difference. It just fit better to have Elba lead the way instead of Smith. Margot Robbie returned to the crazy world of Harley Quinn in stunning and exhausting fashion. She’s just 100% pure energy as Quinn and it’s astounding she hasn’t been burned out by the character yet. King Shark, aka Nanue, voiced Sylvester Stallone was the comedic relief in an already comedic cast. David Dastmalchian as Polka-Dot Man was weirdly unsettling with his hallucinations and tragic origin story. His affliction made him truly seem like one of those criminals who didn’t really know any better. At the tail end (see what I did there?) is Ratcatcher 2, portrayed by Daniela Melchior. A relatively unknown actress, Melchior was cast out of a group of 200 auditions and performed tests with rats to see if she could handle the close proximity to the creatures. She did a great job creating a feeling of attachment to the rodents and really became the heart and soul of the anti-hero group. She was the one that they all felt the need to protect because she had been born into crime, molded by it even, whereas the rest had turn to crime as a means to an end.
I must admit, I watched this on a home projector with a subpar speaker system in an echoey basement so my visuals and sound design scores are probably significantly different than what I would say if I watched this in the theater. I do think that while the home projector was washed out and dull at times, the movie would have looked just fine on the big screen, same with the sound design so I didn’t take off hardly any points. However, I did skip through it on my 4K tv to check on certain things and noticed that some of the CG was a little rubbery looking and just didn’t look quite right. There was a scene with King Shark in particular that just didn’t look that great. And as I already mentioned, the sound track kicked ass as a typical Gunn soundtrack does.
I really enjoyed this refreshingly entertaining DC movie and it only took poaching a Marvel director to make it happen. Good on ya, DC. Let’s hope that the upcoming Black Adam and Shazam 2 : Fury of The Gods movies aren’t already ruined so that the goodwill you built up isn’t completely destroyed. I want to enjoy DC movies so bad and this is a strong step on the path to redemption.
If you like this, check out :
- Man of Steel
- Guardians of The Galaxy