Ridiculous, goofy, unlikely to succeed and features a bunch of ragtag oddballs that will fail to reach a wide audience when brought to the big screen. All things director James Gunn had faced when bringing the Guardians of the Galaxy to the screen for the MCU some years back, and it’s safe to say that the Suicide Squad also seemingly suffers from these same problems. Add to that the less than stellar response of the previous attempt in 2016’s Suicide Squad, directed by David Ayer (The Tax Collector, Fury), and you can see the mountain Gunn had to climb to restore some faith back into this franchise.
Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie), Rick Flagg (Joel Kinnaman) and Captain Boomerang (Jai Courtney) join Amanda Waller’s (Viola Davis) ‘Task Force X’ once again for a new and more dangerous covert operation. This time joined by a new personnel of wacky personas including Bloodsport (Idris Elba), Peacemaker (John Cena), King Shark (voiced by Sylvester Stallone), Ratcatcher 2 (Daniela Melchior) and Polka-Dot Man (David Dastmalchian) to name just a few. Task Force X’s mission is to infiltrate Corto Maltese and locate the Thinker (Peter Capaldi), a metahuman/scientist in charge of a secret experiment known as ‘Project Starfish’. Their job is to use the Thinker to break into Jötunheim and find out what they can about this secretive project.
Partly what made Suicide Squad (2016) unsuccessful was due to the lack of establishing a strong bond for its characters. Writing likeable and relatable characters is something I’ve always criticised David Ayer for not being able to do and Suicide Squad (2016) is evident of that. This is something that Gunn on the other hand, knows exactly how to do. This is a team of villains after all so their fate shouldn’t really matter, but for some characters he draws you into their funky and often bizarre character progressions, and losing a key player feels like a big blow.
From its opening action sequence, which features the most brutal beach invasion scene we’ve seen since Saving Private Ryan (1998), James Gunn establishes that no one is safe in his feature, and it consistently builds upon its hard R rating (15 in the UK) with each grotesque and gory segment we’re gifted with.
Gunn is given the creative flair that he would’ve been otherwise restricted to when working within the MCU. His style is exactly what was needed to shake things up, and the fact that WB have seemingly given up trying to match their comic book competitors over at Disney, have abandoned the kid friendly demographic and opted for this glorious showcase of gore and dark humour to please us older viewers.
Not everything works here. Some of the story beats are a little stale, and some characters are given writing precedence over others, which leaves some of our anti-heroes barely making the roster or biting the dust before even making a strong enough impact.
What Gunn manages to do so well though, is pull the rug from underneath us. There’s plenty of shocks and surprises crammed into this movie and even with a runtime reaching a little over the two hour mark, it still manages to find the time and space to create something special and runs riot with the bombastic material in which it’s adapting from.
Gone with the Godly references and metaphors, gone with the slow-mo and muddy effects and most importantly, gone with David’s dastardly character writing. James Gunn’s The Suicide Squad is a huge breakaway from everything we’ve seen so far in the DCEU, and whether you’re familiar with the source material or not, it doesn’t detract from what a fun flick this is from start to finish.
A bloody affair that allows its stars to fully lose themselves in the lunacy of it all. People being impaled, exploded and ripped to pieces whilst accommodating the trademark charisma and humour of its director. An imperfect but stellar turnaround that offers a night and day difference to its disappointing predecessor.