Director: James Gunn
Starring: Margot Robbie, Idris Elba, John Cena, Joe Kinnaman, Viola Davis, Michael Rooker, Daniela Melchior, David Dastmalchian, Sylvester Stallone
Written by: James Gunn
Running Time: 131 mins
Release date: 30th July 2021
The Suicide Squad is a movie that shouldn’t exist. After the disaster of David Ayer’s 2016 adaptation, Suicide Squad, it looked like this DC comics movie was dead in the water. Then writer and director James Gunn was fired from Disney. His hugely successful Guardians of the Galaxy films had him as top dog at the house of mouse until his past caught up with him, and he was removed from making another Guardians film again. In stepped Warner Bros, who invited him to use his magic with their anarchic creation. Gunn is the ideal man for the job. And so we have THE Suicide Squad, a stand-alone sequel which, if history has anything to say about the subject, should be miles better. Better, yes. Miles…not quite.
Task Force X, led by the no-nonsense Amanda Waller, has brought together a band of crooks, cons and villains from prison and given them a new lease of life. She wants them to go to a remote island in Mexico to destroy all evidence of a secret project called Operation Starfish. This mission may see the ragtag team never returning, and if they use it to escape, they have explosives implanted in their necks. Led by Bloodsport, a former soldier and expert at weapons, the team find themselves up against something far more significant than they could ever imagine.
The Suicide Squad starts with plenty of promise. Gunn develops an opening sequence that leads us to believe we are going this way and then heads us down a different route. It is a masterclass in audience manipulation. Sadly, that promise from the beginning is hard, even for an expert like Gunn to keep going. The introduction to our leading players, the banter between them, and their superpowers’ complete strangeness does make from some delicious set pieces. With his alien style headgear and instruments of death all over his suit, Bloodsport has a personal beef with a fellow team member, Peacemaker. Donning a silver headpiece that looks like a toilet seat, the pair even have a kill-off that is pure Gunn.
While these moments are sprinkled throughout the movie, and the plot becomes more and more outrageous by the minute, it seems to be lacking in something. It has elements of Guardians, including a Groot-like character in the form of King Shark, a walking, talking shark in Bermuda shorts. It has the misfits of characters. Harley Quinn is back with her joyfulness of murdering and slicing through an army of men. Ratcatcher 2, a young girl with control over rats and Polka-dot Man, a villain with mother issues who fires polka-dots at his enemy, brings a sense of fun to the proceedings, but still, it lacks those memorable moments that made Guardians such a smash.
That could be the problem. It’s hard not to see the comparisons between the two films, even though they are from different worlds and different creations. There isn’t much room for character development here as another blood-soaked action sequence comes along. It is a very gory movie with limbs being ripped apart in full vision. This goes along with the criminal world these characters come from. Yet even though these scenes work, it still is missing something: heart.
The cast all work well together and bring plenty of energy to their roles. Margot Robbie, who managed to save the original Suicide Squad as Harley Quinn, does it again. You can tell Robbie loves playing the part and brings new dimensions each time she dons her brightly coloured costumes. Idris Elba, as Bloodsport, does what Idris does. Still, he doesn’t have room to develop his role, as does John Cena as The Peacemaker, who is ideally suited to playing this role and is slowly becoming equal to his fellow WWE star, Dwayne Johnson, but the script doesn’t give him enough.
Daniela Melchior and David Dastmalchian are the main stars of this. As Ratcatcher 2, Melchior brings a sense of innocence and vulnerability to the role. She also has a backstory that makes her sympathetic. Dastmalchian as Polka-dot Man is tremendous fun, mainly when he only uses his powers by being prompted by images of his mother.
The Suicide Squad is fun, no doubt, but I left the screening with a feeling of emptiness. It is bonkers, bloody and brimming with energy, but that doesn’t seem to be enough. If only I could put my finger on why it didn’t work for me and I didn’t leave singing its praises. Maybe going in expecting another Guardians was a mistake, but it doesn’t come close to the spectacle of that series. I’m looking forward to Gunn returning to that universe, but maybe I should not expect too much.
3 out of 5