The Suicide Squad
Reviewed for Shockya.com by Abe Friedtanzer
Director: James Gunn
Screenwriter: James Gunn
Cast: Margot Robbie, Idris Elba, John Cena, Joel Kinnaman, Jai Courtney, Peter Capaldi, David Dastmalchian, Daniela Melchior, Sylvester Stallone, Viola Davis
Screened at: AMC Century City, LA, 8/3/21
Release Date: August 6th, 2021
Franchises typically have substantial expectations on which to deliver. After a first installment is successful and well-received, subsequent entries must either give audiences more than they got the first time or something different, and if it’s merely the same thing all over again, it may not be enough to satiate fans that want something fresh and new. When a sequel has almost exactly the same title as the first film, as is the case with The Suicide Squad, moviegoers may question whether they’re going in for a repeat experience. With this film, it turns out that they are, but the formula here makes a second trip perfectly worthwhile for those who enjoyed it the first time around, and even improves upon it with a better result.
Amanda Waller (Viola Davis) sends a group of convicts deep into an island called Corto Maltese to destroy Jotunheim, a facility that holds a dangerous alien creature the United States government fears will be put to problematic use after a coup. After their convoy is almost entirely wiped out, Colonel Rick Flag (Joel Kinnaman) and Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie) join forces with Bloodsport (Idris Elba), Ratcatcher 2 (Daniela Melchior), Peacemaker (John Cena), King Shark (Sylvester Stallone), and Polka-Dot Man (David Dastmalchian) on a mission that befits the name of their team since failure is all but guaranteed.
This film very quickly establishes its tone and style, killing off a startling number of characters in its opening scene and setting up the standard that no one, no matter how significant their role or high their billing, is sure to be spared a violent onscreen death. There is a playfulness to the structure of the narrative, which frequently involves time-based title cards creatively spelled out using set pieces or in vivid fonts, and which gradually reveals the true sequence of events that carries its plot from its brutal start to its expectedly chaotic conclusion.
The benefits of having a revolving-door team whose members are fully aware that this may be their last mission are tremendous, especially since it means that the franchise can continue forever even if every single character is replaced. Someone like Quinn, who recently got her own starring showcase in Birds of Prey, fits in well here with the ensemble, and it’s terrific to know that Peacemaker, played hilariously by Cena, has already been given his own HBO Max series due to the true appeal of his character. Most crucially, the importance of every player fluctuates throughout the film, and it’s fun if a bit vicious to see when some mistake their relevance and find themselves promptly expelled from the narrative.
This film does include a great deal of bloody gore, reminding audiences that these characters are bad people, even if they might occasionally succumb to a noble influence or thought. While the same effect could likely have been achieved with a bit less bloodshed and total visual carnage, that’s not what this movie is about, and its title should deter anyone who thinks that they’ll be spared the privilege of watching people being ripped in half or exploding into pieces. The pacing of the action works well, and hopefully, in a world all too filled with violence, the science-fiction and superhero elements of it separate it enough from real-life incidents where human life is disregarded in such a way. This surely isn’t the last we’ll see of the Suicide Squad, and while a more creative title will probably be needed for a third entry, this film is completely capable of delivering what it sets out to deliver, surely ready to do so again in the future.
Story – B
Acting – B+
Technical – B+
Overall – B