THE SUICIDE SQUAD Review; "It's Not A Comic Book Movie Classic But You'll Have A Bloody Good Time"
The Suicide Squad arrived in UK cinemas today, but is it worthy of the amount of praise that's been heaped on this reboot by critics in the U.S.? Hit the jump to check out our spoiler-free verdict...
When James Gunn parted ways with Disney, Warner Bros. was wise to quickly enlist the filmmaker to put his unique spin on a franchise in desperate need of saving. 2016’s Suicide Squad wasn’t the unmitigated disaster some would have you believe, but it was far from a good movie, and The Suicide Squad is very much the blockbuster adventure these characters deserve and should have gotten five years ago. Given complete creative control, Gunn has been freed from the Marvel Studios leash, and that proves to be both a good and bad thing.
If you’ve seen Gunn’s work before his Marvel Cinematic Universe debut with 2014’s Guardians of the Galaxy, you’ll know he’s someone who isn’t afraid to push the boundaries in terms of both humour and violence. In The Suicide Squad, there’s a lot of good jokes, but an awful lot of bad ones to go with them (unless you find "dick" and "splooge" gags riotously funny). Violence is also something used to great effect, though at times, the ridiculously over the top gore feels so gratuitous that it’s more likely to lead to eye rolls than an entertaining viewing experience. With such a well-crafted screenplay, that shock factor doesn’t feel necessary, while a casualty-heavy opening is perhaps the weakest part of the movie, and not just because it wastes villains we’d have liked to see receive more than just one line of dialogue. Thankfully, once we get past that, Gunn makes sure that there are stakes to what we see, and as you get to know these villains, you’ll happily be on board for what proves to be a manic, often batsh*t crazy ride.
The core cast is terrific, with John Cena proving himself a highlight as Peacemaker, a character we’re definitely excited to spend more time with once that HBO Max series rolls around. Cena has some great comedic timing and delivers a layered and exciting performance that makes this unhinged vigilante a whole lot more than a one-note part of the proceedings. Now, it’s easy to see why Gunn wanted to write an entire series revolving around the peace-loving loon, and this was a pitch-perfect casting decision on the director's part.
Joel Kinnaman and Viola Davis benefit from extremely well-written roles that allow them to really tap into the best parts of their characters from the 2016 movie. Margot Robbie, meanwhile, is as perfect as ever as Harley Quinn despite the weird part she's given to play with in the first half of the movie. Thankfully, the actress overcomes that in the second half, and one sequence featuring Harley is a visual feast that's like watching the comic books come to life. It's also a delight to see David Dastmalchian receive the opportunity to prove himself a leading man with a hilariously bizarre role in Polka-Dot Man (even if a running gag about his mother wears really thin). Idris Elba is flawless, but aside from some advanced weaponry and an unexpected phobia, he could literally be playing Deadshot and a few changes here and there - like his history with Rick Flag - feel extremely superficial. It was initially reported that the actor had been cast to replace Will Smith, and we can’t help but wonder if that was indeed the case before something changed and Gunn switched the characters around. Still, Bloodsport is a fun character to spend time with in his own right, and it’s wonderful to see Elba given a meaty, memorable comic book movie role.
The biggest star to come out of The Suicide Squad, however, might just be Daniela Melchior. With a moving and downright astonishing performance, the actress puts herself on the map as a talent to watch and a find by Gunn that looks set to be a huge benefit to any number of Hollywood projects in the coming years. Even if you hate rats, you’ll love Ratcatcher 2.
The Suicide Squad has been hailed as a masterpiece by some, and for many of you, that description will hold true. This is a beautifully crafted movie, with some inspired comic book visuals (you can tell Gunn set out to try a lot of new things as a director) and bombastic action that will keep you entertained throughout. It never lets up and definitely never gets boring, and we simply cannot say enough good things about King Shark, a scene-stealing addition to the DCEU who Gunn makes every bit as loveable as Groot. Unfortunately, some inconsistencies can be hard to forgive, and while Gunn does his best to get us to care about these characters, you won’t walk away in love with them the same way you probably were with the Guardians, despite how great the aforementioned performances are. The filmmaker made us all cry when Star-Lord bid a tearful goodbye to his mother and Yondu sacrificed himself for his adoptive son, but here, the emotion feels surface level and forced and is too often undermined by a poorly timed joke that will either leave you in stitches or groaning (most likely the latter). One quick side note is that Warner Bros. showed far too much in the trailers for the movie, making it feel a little light on surprises. Despite that, we do get two fun post-credits scenes and an edge-of-your-seat final act with an epic clash between Task Force X and Starro the Conqueror that's a delight to behold.
It's not a comic book movie classic but you'll have a bloody good time with The Suicide Squad, an action-packed, often hilarious, take on Task Force X that breathes new life into the DC Extended Universe even if it occasionally strikes a bum note.