Action Adventure

Review: ‘The Suicide Squad’ is an Over-the-Top, Ultra-Violent, and Heartfelt Comic Book Spectacle

August 5, 2021Ben MK

In discussing James Gunn's The Suicide Squad, one can't help but think of Evil Dead 2. A followup to 1981's The Evil Dead, the second installment in Sam Raimi's Evil Dead Trilogy was neither a reboot nor a sequel — but rather a revision that leaned strongly on Raimi's own twisted sense of grotesque humor. Likewise, The Suicide Squad never formally announces itself as either a reboot or a sequel to 2016's Suicide Squad. But thanks to Gunn's sensibilities as writer and director, it proves to be a crackling reworking of that film's core elements — not to mention the DCEU's most satisfying entry to date.

The premise is simple. Amanda Waller (Viola Davis) is the no-nonsense head of a top-secret US government program codenamed Task Force X, and whenever there's a dirty deed that needs doing she calls upon some of the world's most corrupt metahumans — the inmates at Belle Reve Penitentiary. The home of such morally misguided and downright deranged individuals as Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie), Bloodsport (Idris Elba) and Peacemaker (John Xena), the prison is essentially one big hiring pool for Waller, where she offers candidates reduced sentences in exchange for their services. So logically, when a military coup on the island of Corto Maltese threatens to unleash an extraterrestrial lifeform of gargantuan proportions upon the planet, she assembles not one, but two ragtag teams of antiheroes, dispatching them both to the small South American nation.

Unbeknownst to them, the first team — led by Colonel Rick Flag (Joel Kinnaman) and comprised of new and returning characters like Savant (Michael Rooker), Blackguard (Pete Davidson), T.D.K. (Nathan Fillion), Javelin (Flula Borg), Mongal (Mayling Ng), Weasel (Sean Gunn), Captain Boomerang (Jai Courtney) and Harley Quinn — is merely the backup for Waller's Plan A, which sees Bloodsport, Peacemaker, Polka-Dot Man (David Dastmalchian), Ratcatcher 2 (Daniela Melchior) and King Shark (Sylvester Stallone) tasked with infiltrating the island and destroying a scientific research facility known as Jotunheim. However, when things inevitably go sideways and various team members are killed off in gruesome fashion, these misfit mercenaries must come together and decide whether to stay focused on the mission or go rogue.

Making the film's comic book-inspired storyline and its plethora of over-the-top and colorful characters make sense for moviegoers is a mammoth undertaking, to say the least, but Gunn — who helped turn the Guardians of the Galaxy into a household name — is more than up to the challenge. Figuratively and literally dropping the viewers and the cast directly into the action within the first few minutes, Gunn wastes absolutely no time getting to the good stuff. And for a movie that's all about a bunch of B-list supervillains working together to defeat an evil that's even more insidious than they are, that means no shortage of bombs, f-bombs, and just plain bombastic action set-pieces, most of which leave a trail of bloody carnage and side-splitting laughter in their wake.

What's most surprising, however, isn't how much of an improvement The Suicide Squad is over its predecessor, but rather how — amidst all the blockbuster spectacle and foul-mouthed bravado — Gunn still manages to give the film an emotional center that goes beyond two enemies learning that their mothers share the same first name. After all, everyone has feelings — even anthropomorphic fish gods and telepathic creatures from outer space.

The Suicide Squad releases August 6th, 2021 from Warner Bros. Pictures. The film has an MPAA rating of R for strong violence and gore, language throughout, some sexual references, drug use and brief graphic nudity. Its runtime is 2 hrs. 12 min.

You May Also Like