Review: “The Suicide Squad” – second time’s the charm

“The Suicide Squad” released on Aug. 5. (Warner Brothers)

Connor Stewart

“The Suicide Squad” is a totally bonkers, off-the-rails, bloody good time (emphasis on bloody). After James Gunn, of “Guardians of the Galaxy”, was briefly fired from Marvel, Warner Brothers Studios snatched him up to make a film that assembles all the things he excels at: great characters mixed in with over-the-top action scenes and a dash of dark humor.

“The Suicide Squad” follows a group of incarcerated comic book villains put together to form a special operations unit and undergo a dangerous mission. Newcomer Bloodsport (Idris Elba) leads the team on its mission to destroy a secret lab in exchange for years off of their prison sentences. 

This film never makes it clear on whether it is a reboot or sequel to the infamous 2016 “Suicide Squad” movie. It carries a similar name, premise and a handful of the same characters, but it never directly references its predecessor. 

After 2016’s “Suicide Squad” earned a rotten 26% score on Rotten Tomatoes from critics and received mixed reviews from fans, the studio went back to the drawing board. The film brought in $746 million, so there was an appetite for the concept. The issue was with the execution and numerous reports of studio interference.

Warner Brothers learned their lesson of getting too involved in the filmmaker’s vision. Gunn joined the production of 2021’s “The Suicide Squad” and was allowed to make the film he envisioned with no studio interference at all.

This was refreshing to see. Studios have increasingly stepped in to mold films to their liking, often sacrificing the director’s artistic vision. Refreshingly, this movie is full-blown James Gunn in the best way possible. 

He brings depth to the characters that the 2016 film lacked. He takes full advantage of the film’s R-rating with its violence, but not in a way that seems too gratuitous.

The film’s humor mostly lands. There were some moments that had viewers roaring with laughter. However, some of it was on the darker end of humor, which might not appeal to all viewers. 

The standout element of “The Suicide Squad” is the star-studded collection of characters Gunn assembled. Not all make it to the end (hence the film’s name), but Gunn’s writing gives enough to each character to have an impact before their untimely demise. 

The cast is not completely redone from the 2016 film. The cold and calculated Amanda Waller (Viola Davis), her right-hand man Rick Flag (Joel Kinnaman), the delightfully tormented Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie) and the snarky crook Captain Boomerang (Jai Courtney) all return to their respective roles. 

Gunn gives Davis and Kinnaman so much more to work with compared to the previous installment. Kinnaman, in particular, goes from exposition-shouting soldier to a fully realized character that the audience can root for.

Robbie unsurprisingly knocks it out of the park on her third outing as Harley Quinn. She is separated from the group for a good chunk of the movie, which created the feeling that they did not have much to do with Harley, but wanted her in the film and had to give her scenes. However, once she linked up with the main cast, she played off the rest of them very well.

The standouts of the main cast include the heart and soul of the film, Ratcatcher 2 (Daniela Melchior), the tortured Polka-Dot Man (David Dastmalchian) and King Shark (Sylvester Stallone), who is basically a big toddler with the body of a humanoid shark. They bring the laughs and unexpected emotional punches throughout the story. 

“The Suicide Squad” brings the laughs, action, heart and yet another loveable CGI creature to obsess over in one of the wildest comic book films around, and certainly one of the best. 

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