James Gunn’s The Suicide Squad is everything its predecessor isn’t. Although the first one did have some enjoyable characters, this one capitalizes on that by also having a good script, insanely violent action, and it has an actual heart.
One of the best things the DCEU ever did is hire James Gunn to direct a new and improved iteration the this notorious team of villains, The Suicide Squad. I’m quite late with this review, not because I wanted to be, though. In fact, I saw this movie when it first released and I really did enjoy it. Unfortunately, life got in the way. But, I always intended to write my thoughts on this because I feel these characters and this property, the team as a whole, finally got the film it deserves, especially after the train wreck that is David Ayer’s version (apparently, not his version, but yeah).
I already knew what Gunn brings to the table in most of his movies. You can always expect witty and humorous dialogue, as well as properly developed characters and a story you can get behind. I feel he was in familiar territory with The Suicide Squad as well. Although the premise can be vastly different to Guardians of the Galaxy, I feel the two properties have many things in common. Some of the characters are, in essence, rejects and nobodies. They’re each unique in their own way and each of them deliver a specific dynamic that the other doesn’t. It’s something Gunn always does impressively well, which is why some of the characters in Guardians of the Galaxy have become fan favorites. I can also see many characters from The Suicide Squad having the same effect on the audience.
Ultimately, this is what the film is all about: the characters. For the most part, at least recently, I feel some directors, especially in the superhero genre, have handled team-up movies fairly well in that aspect. What I mean is handling multiple characters and making them feel vital and important to the story the film is trying to tell. Of course, there are always going to be some characters who aren’t as developed or fleshed out as others. But, for example, other than Gunn, I feel the Russo Brothers did a phenomenal job with Avengers: Infinity War and Endgame when it comes to this specific detail. However, on the contrary, Ayer didn’t do this with his version of Suicide Squad. I can say the same about Zack Snyder with Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice,. There are even films that aren’t team-up movies with terrible character development for the main character. It’s an incredibly crucial part, at least for me, when it comes to film and Gunn has nailed it once again with The Suicide Squad.
One of my favorite character is Idris Elba as Bloodsport. He’s charismatic in almost everything he does and it’s no different with his portrayal of Bloodsport here. He’s serious, sarcastic, funny, and super violent when he needs to be. Another standout, for me, is Margot Robbie as Harley Quinn. Robbie has been great as this character in every film she’s been in and, as a matter of fact, she’s been the best part of those movies, especially the otherwise mediocre 2016 version of Suicide Squad. Sylvester Stallone was the heart of the movie as King Shark, though. There are so many silly, but simple phrases and quotes I catch myself repeating from time to time thanks to him.
If I’m being honest though, I don’t think there was a character I didn’t like in this movie. David Dastmalchian got plenty of time to shine as Polka-dot Man, who’s a very strange and unorthodox character. However, he makes it work in so many ways. I can say the same for Ratcatcher 2, played by Daniela Melchior, who’s another character that delivers plenty of heart and charm. Like King Shark, she’s also, in many ways, the heart of the movie. I’ve always thought John Cena was underrated, but I believe he’s starting to open people’s eyes with every new project. He’s great as Peacemaker with his comedic timing, intimidating physical appearance, and sheer violence. Finally, there’s Joel Kinnaman returning as Rick Flag. I feel his character is definitely redeemed in this version of the movie, giving him more to do and giving him better things to say compared to the garbage he was given in the previous version.
One issue I did have with the characters, however, is how dispensable some of them were. Sadly, there are a few characters I won’t mention that are barely in the film at all. I have to say, it was pretty bold and surprising to see Gunn take this route with some of them. I mean, I figured not all of them would make it out alive, but I didn’t expect it to happen the way it did. Long story short, I was hoping to spend a bit more time with some of them, especially considering the cast assembled to bring these characters to life.
Speaking more on the violence, the action sequences are so fun to watch. It’s, at times, extremely graphic and gory, and I was loving every second of it. Gunn has always been creative with how he shoots certain action scenes and this is no different. I honestly think he experimented even more in this movie, which ended up paying off, in my opinion. It also helps that most of the scenes feel more like practical effects than CGI. The CGI sequences are definitely obvious, but most of the scenes feel very realistic, which is great. As for the story, it was one I enjoyed for the most part as well. I do feel some plot points didn’t reach their potential and I wish they were explored a bit more. Overall though, I was mostly satisfied with the outcome of everything.
The Suicide Squad is the movie I wish we got in 2016. It’s full of heart, charm, hilarious moments, and likable characters throughout. I do wish I was able to spend some more time with the characters on the screen, and I think not every plot point reached its potential. But, it was an exhilarating watch at times, and I think it’ll be one of my favorite superhero films of the year.