Much like the laughable, morally murky villians at the core of DC’s The Suicide Squad, the main elements that have put this movie together has seemingly come through hell and back in order at a shot of redemption.
The most notable, of course, is James Gunn’s dramatic firing/hiring/rehiring at the hands of Disney and Warner Brothers due to some offensive tweets so old you could have carbon dated them, but also in dire need of a second shot is the licence itself, with David Ayers’ first entry famously dragged kicking and screaming through the editing room multiple times in order to satisfy the lust for WB’s marketing department.
But like I alluded to before, second chances are what The Suicide Squad is all about and Gunn has been weaving instant classics about loveable psychos virtually his entire career; so does this mean something new for the DCEU: an entry that finally doesn’t divide audiences like a super powered karate chop splitting a building in half…?
After learning of a coup that’s occuring in the South American island of Corto Maltese, terrifying government tyrant Amanda Waller once again delves into the grimmest prisons imaginable to coerce more super villians into risking their lives to change the world after being enlisted in Task Force X – a.k.a. The Suicide Squad. However, coups on remote island isn’t usually something that would normally attract the notice of a major player like Waller, but Corto Maltese just happens to contain Jotenheim, a Nazi era research lab that’s been dicking around on secret, extra terrestrial, creepy shit that’s been dubbed Project: Starfish that, if utilized, could massive ramifications for the entire world.
Slapping together yet another cabal of psychotic losers from the decedent pick ‘n mix that is Belle Reve prison for a full scale beach incursion, this rosta features some familiar faces (deranged minx Harley Quinn, aussie blade chucker Captain Boomerang), some lethal new ones (tech themed hitman Bloodsport, mother obsessed introvert Polka-Dot Man, mass murdering fascist wanker Peacemaker) and some truly bizarre wild cards (dull-witted sea god King Shark, repulsive man-rodent Weasel, the limb shedding T.D.K) who’s initial landing doesn’t exactly go as planned.
With mission leader Rick Flagg missing, Harley Quinn taken prisoner and a large section of Task Force X an oily stain on the beach, the survivors have to continue the mission, take down Project: Starfish and try not to incur the wrath of a notoriously cold blooded Waller who will happily detonate the skull of anyone who disobeys one of her orders – but will this iteration of The Suicide Squad have an ice cube’s chance in hell when said powers include having the ability to shoot rainbow coloured dots from his arms?
This must be something of a pallet cleanser for writer/director James Gunn who, thanks to a surprisingly lenient studio, gets to merge the loveable freaks of his Guardian Of The Galaxy movies with the belly laugh inducing mega-violence of his earlier, indie work and the results are as wonderfully joyful as you would have hoped. Essentially playing like The Expendables was directed by a young Peter Jackson if Sylvester Stallone was frequently spiking his tea with LSD, The Suicide Squad is an utter riot, both figuratively and literally thanks to the lashings of gore on display here and Gunn’s influences – namely man on a mission war movies like The Dirty Dozen – are in full effect.
Marvelously discarding the majority of his cast with the callousness of an asshole child incineration ants with a magnifying glass, Gunn embraces the absurd as never before with huge scale action sequences not tempering his more surreal tendencies a single iota – it’s not gonna be too many movies this year that features Idris Elba pulling gun parts off his armour in order to shoot a building-sized alien starfish with the power of mind control – but he’s still got that massive heart beating away in that chest of his which mainly gets a workout thanks to Daniela Melchior’s memorably tragic Ratcatcher II.
Margot Robbie’s Harley (always an MVP) and Joel Kinnaman’s Rick Flagg (now no longer seemingly possessed by Peter Weller) mix well with the newbies and everyone’s going to have their favorites (skull gnawing King Shark and John Cena’s uptight Peacemaker for the win) but the ensemble is defiantly strong even if David Dastmalchian’s Polka-Dot Man and Peter Capaldi’s Thinker could have used an extra scene or too…
Issues? Kinda? Sorta? At numerous times my picky ass spotted things that seemed distractingly familiar as the movie (believe it or not) treads on some suspiciously familiar ground. Carnivorous yet sweet, cargo shorts wearing King Shark shares more than a few character traits with Groot, not least beyond the fact that their vocals are provided by bass throated action heroes; Starro’s method of communication is awfully reminiscent of Gunn’s debut, Slither; the opening beach attack is essentially a much bigger version of the X-Force sequence from Deadpool 2 and despite Elba successfully distancing himself from Will Smith’s Deadshot from the previous movie, they’re still essentially the same character who even have incredibly similar plot points involving an estranged teenage daughter.
However, not a single one of these is particularly harmful in any way and once or the gore and dust has settled, The Suicide Squad stands as the DCEU’s single most purely entertaining entry yet that refreshingly free of studio interference meaning that all that gooey, James Gunn goodness gets poured, uncut, directly into our eager, waiting eyeballs. That means a predictably eclectic soundtrack, Michael Rooker, Sean Gunn and Nathan Fillion getting to play utterly ludicrous characters and we even get a blink and you’ll miss it cameo from Troma movies overlord and Gunn’s mentor Lloyd Kaufman.
Getting DC back on track after divisive opinions on Wonder Wonder 1984 and all that SnyderCut business, it’s good to see a filmmaker’s vision finally synch up with what Warner Brothers wants to make that hits as many targets as squarely as it does.
Thanks to a director notorious for including genuine emotion and actual stakes in with his splats, bangs and laughs, The Suicide Squad successfully takes it’s notoriously Z-list villains and puts them firmly in the A-list.