After director Ayer’s disappointing Suicide Squad in 2016 (a movie which comprises one decent act and two dreadful ones) you could be forgiven for thinking that The Suicide Squad were dead and buried. However, intellectual property never really stays dead for long in Tinsel Town. You see, after his run of success with Guardians of The Galaxy, director James Gunn was swiftly dropped from all things Marvel after some embarrassing tweets surfaced on the Internet. Promptly out of work and out of love, DC comics instead picked up the phone to him and offered Gunn the sequel to David Ayer’s flawed first film. The result is “The” Suicide Squad which simultaneously picks and abandons where David Ayer left off.
Plot-wise Viola Davis is back as Amanda Waller, whose appetite for disposing of agents is seconded only by Judi Dench’s tenure in the Bond franchise. This time, she sends the suicide squad to the island nation of Corto Maltese. Promised lighter sentences, the team must destroy a Nazi-era laboratory Jötunheim, which holds a secretive experiment known as “Project Starfish”. All good, so far? Great, because to go any deeper than that immediately takes us into some delicious spoiler territory. Let me just say that within the first ten minutes, you’ll know that it’s not just Viola Davis who isn’t taking any prisoners.
... DC has a movie with both cult pedigree and vindicating their philosophy of letting directors do what the hell they want.
You see with the bar set at a deliberate ‘R’ rating, this isn’t a movie for kids. In fact, with its sepia/green-tinged palette and 1970’s-like typographic nods to Sam Peckinpah’s The Dirty Dozen, this is an unquestionably confident movie that stomps over where David Ayer’s feared to tread. Whereas 2016’s debut felt like a nervy first foray, James Gunn has brought panache by chum bucket-load for 2021. So, whilst yes, there is infrequent gore on display, I’d rather suggest that the ‘R’ rating is for you to “re-adjust your expectations” because this sequel is set for fun not stun.
Also being able to blend songs into the action in a way that Zak Snyder only wishes he could, each scene moves at a pace more akin to an Edgar Wright movie. With a veritable smorgasbord of mostly new and recharged characters, the scale and surprise of Mr Stay-Puft from Ghostbusters has got serious competition in the ‘scale and surprise stakes’. The CGI effects are completely on point and Sylvester Stallone’s Nanaue / King Shark very nearly steals the show in a way that Vin Deisel’s Groot does in the Guardians of The Galaxy.
So, with Idris Elba chewing up the expositional duties left by Will Smith and Margot Robbie properly unchained to drop more than just f-bombs, this Suicide Squad is a prime example of what James Gunn can do when let off the Marvel cookie-cutters.
In a movie that is unashamedly loud, dumb, gory fun, this is a film that performs two much-needed exorcisms – that being 1) the aforementioned first Suicide Squad movie and 2) Guardians of Galaxy Vol II. So, whilst the trade papers might be questioning the logic of releasing it theatrically and online, I think this is a movie that will pick up both speed and appeal once it hits the broader channels of Amazon and iTunes.
This is because, in that rarest of clubs where the sequel demolishes its debut feature, DC has a movie with both cult pedigree and vindicates their philosophy of letting directors do what the hell they want.
Prepare to “nom nom”. Repeatedly.