The directorially gifted James Gunn is back and he’s bringing his own unique genius to the all-out CRAZY blockbuster rollercoaster ride of supervillains, explosions and general mayhem in the utterly WILD new adaptation of The Suicide Squad.
Imprisoned convicts of Belle Reve penitentiary are sent as members of Task Force X to the South American island of Corto Maltese to destroy Jotunheim, a Nazi-era prison and laboratory which held political prisoners and conducted experiments.
There is no denying it. James Gunn is a genius. And now he brings his own pop-culture sensibilities and visual eye to the DCEU with The Suicide Squad, a brand new all-out action blockbuster that follows a new iteration of the infamous Task Force X, with a few notable returnees, and this time the mission is on! Gunn has dived back into the history of The Suicide Squad and looked directly to the pages of the cult classic comic book by John Ostrander to bring this new cinematic vision to life. And the results are awe-inspiring. Utterly maddening from beginning to end, The Suicide Squad leans heavily into its comic book source material and audiences will be very happy with the level of insanity that Gunn brings to the big screen.
Gunn’s vision for The Suicide Squad is thoroughly unique and he brings to life a host of despicable, kooky and flat-out villainous new characters. Some are good, most are bad, and there are a few scumbags chucked in for good measure, and if you think you know where this movie is going to go….think again. Right from its opening frame, Gunn throws his audience for a left turn and makes it clear that this is not your typical superhero film. This is a supervillain film! And Gunn has cranked the R rating all the way up to 11 to accommodate the bad guys. Plus there’s a good helping of splatter and gore that is sure to shock the hell out of you, all while your laughing hysterically at the same time. By leaning into the film’s R-rating and the darker intentions of this twisted group of villains you never know what is going to happen next. And that’s a very good thing.
Narratively, Gunn knows every action of this story and he really centres this film as an all-out covert black ops, ‘man on a mission’ war movie. Here we follow the likes of the grumpy mercenary Bloodsport (Idris Elba), the crazed Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie), the jingoistic Peacemaker (John Cena), the noble Rick Flag (Joel Kinnaman), the millennial-minded Ratcatcher 2 (Daniela Melchior), the slightly strange Polka-Dot Man (David Dastmalchian) and the ever-loveable, but constantly hungry King Shark (Sylvester Stallone). And he lets this group of miscreant’s go to work as only they can. Mixing in military coups, savage experiments, and a dangerous, otherworldly threat, alongside the backstabbing dealing of Task Force X’s overlord Amanda Waller (Viola Davis), Gunn produces a film that keeps you focused and on-point at every moment.
Gunn’s thoroughly unique voice as a filmmaker is a key asset in realising The Suicide Squad’s narrative and he gives each character their own unique voice, aesthetic and motive. Gunn also gives each character their own ‘moment’ within the film, and even if it’s only for a short time, all of these characters certainly make an impression on the audience. Via Gunn’s keen attention to detail, you get a real sense of history with these characters and their existence within this living, breathing DC superhero-verse that comes alive on screen. Gunn pulls from so many genres in the construction of this film, and it all melts together into an amazing product that we get to witness up on screen.
Every performer in this film is at the top of their game, and Gunn truly makes this film a complete ensemble piece. Firstly there’s Idris Elba as the constantly grumpy, totally ‘doesn’t want to be there’ Bloodsport, a mercenary with unparallel combat capabilities, and technical abilities who is thrown into the fight and forced into being a leader and Elba completely shines off of Gunn’s direction. Facing off against him is John Cena as the jingoistic, bro-ey mercenary Peacemaker, a man who is quite literally willing to kill ANYONE and EVERYONE in order to achieve world peace. Yep that’s right. Cena is method with his performance and it’s so much fun to watch him as this tool of a character.
Margot Robbie also returns as the flamboyantly crazy Harley Quinn, and this is utterly the purest form of Harley that we’ve seen to date. Taking inspiration directly from the comics, this is a Harley who is now completely independent of Mr J, and who has crafted her own unique morality. Best described as a little bit good. A little bit bad. And a whole lotta crazy, Harley has a very important part to play in this new narrative. She’s the spanner in the very heart of Task Force X, and while she goes along with the mission….she also does her own thing at the same time. Gunn lavishes attention on Harley within the film and her stand-alone action escape scene leads to all kinds of carnage, and it’s so much fun to watch Harley go to work here. Fans of both Margot Robbie and Harley Quinn will be very pleased with her appearance within this film and it’s great to have some crazy back in The Suicide Squad.
Leading this group of crazed supervillains is Joel Kinnaman who once again returns as Rick Flag, and we get a completely different portrait of Task Force X’s commander in this iteration. Presented as the quintessential ‘American good guy’ who strives to do the right thing… he also has his work cut out for him wrangling this group of nutjobs at the same time. As Abner Krill/Polka-Dot Man, David Dastmalchian makes a very big impression on audiences with his soulful performance and Krill’s one of the Squad’s most interesting characters. As the product of an experiment gone wrong, Krill is a rather burdened character who in this instance gets his chance to make a difference to the world and Dastmalchian portrays him with great sincerity and heart and he’s a character that audiences will certainly connect with.
Finally bringing Task Force X together are my two favourite characters from the film, Ratcatcher 2 and King Shark, and you’ll love every moment that they’re on screen together. Starring as millennial thief Cleo Cazo/Ratcatcher 2 is Daniela Melchior and this young actress is incredible in the part. As the character with the most goodness in her, Ratcatcher 2 is certainly an outlier amongst the rest of Task Force X and she brings hope, optimism and desire to actually save lives that proves to be the Squad’s most important asset. Then there’s Hollywood legend Sylvester Stallone as the ever-loveable King Shark and audiences will love this character. Physically imposing and possessing a ferocious hunger, King Shark is also a very sweet, innocent and child-like character who just wants a friend and just as I did I bet you’ll love every moment that he’s on-screen.
In terms of its out and out spectacle, The Suicide Squad is one hell of a fun movie to watch and is by far and away the biggest and boldest production that James Gunn has ever brought to the big screen. The action here is utterly insane to witness and whether it’s a frontal beach assault with explosions and bullets flying everywhere, the implosion of a former Nazi-era prison or a gigantic battle with a horrific alien entity you can bet that The Suicide Squad has it. The action is exciting to witness and is sure to rev up your adrenaline and audiences will be completely engaged thanks to the innovative camera work of cinematographer Henry Braham which puts you right in the heart of the action.
The Suicide Squad is also UNBELIEVABLY FUNNY! It’s utterly hysterical and even with explosions of gore being lobbed onto the screen, you’ll be laughing your head off. Gunn’s narrative hits audiences squarely in the funny bone and the director’s unique comedic leanings completely benefit the story that he is telling on screen. I also have to signal out the soundtrack of this film, and like all of his previous movies have confirmed, Gunn has very good taste in music. Whether it’s the classic strum of Johnny Cash’s guitar, the graffiti punk of The Jim Carroll Band or the rap-rock synth sound of grandson, the soundtrack of this movie completely comes together and heightens the visuals that are presented on screen.
All in all, The Suicide Squad is the most fun I’ve had at the cinema all year long. It’s a completely awe-inspiring experience and after watching it you feel like you’ve witnessed something truly special. I freaking loved this movie, and it’s a cinematic experience that we could all use after the trials and tribulations of 2020 and the ongoing residual effects of that year. It’s a film of unfiltered creativity and passion from all who helped make it, and it’s truly a gift to its audience. You’ll feel so many emotions watching this film and I thoroughly loved it from beginning to end.
The Suicide Squad isn’t just a movie, it’s a totally out-of-control blockbuster experience. This film is so freaking cool, packing together crazy fun with everything you love about the comic book genre and James Gunn’s unique directorial vision. You’re going to have SO MUCH FUN with this movie and it’s definitely worth seeing it up on the big screen.
Image: Warner Brothers Pictures