James Gunn’s ‘The Suicide Squad’ (2021) – Don’t Get Too Attached, But Enjoy The Ride! – Movie Review

To start this off, I want to answer a question a lot of people have been asking about The Suicide Squad, especially since there seems to have been another movie released a few years back with a very similar name: What is it? A remake? A sequel? Honestly, more of the latter and less of the former. Some surviving members of the first movie’s Squad are back (with a few alterations) with the same actors like little else changed.

Synopsis for The Suicide Squad (2021):

The government sends the most dangerous supervillains in the world—Bloodsport, Peacemaker, King Shark, Harley Quinn and others—to the remote, enemy-infused island of Corto Maltese. Armed with high-tech weapons, they trek through the dangerous jungle on a search-and-destroy mission, with only Col. Rick Flag on the ground to make them behave.

If you’re a fan of comic book movies, especially recently, you’ve probably heard about a controversy or eight surrounding the original film and how that led to a frankly disjointed movie. Luckily, that’s not a problem here. James Gunn tightened and strengthened his directorial themes and theses here, leaving him with some of the most fun and fearless filmmaking of his career.

With characters like Amanda Waller (Viola Davis), the manipulative chess master who heads Task Force X—aka The Suicide Squad due to the high casualty rate of the missions they are sent on—and Peacemaker (John Cena), a garishly dressed satire of the Captain America ideals, Gunn is openly poking fun at US politicians and shady governmental bodies in a way he never could have with Disney/Marvel. Davis is frequently cited as one of the few great parts of the original, playing Waller with an intensity that would make some of the monsters we feature on this site quake in their boots, and she continues to bring that energy in the sequel.

Alongside her is newcomer Peacemaker in a real surprise. Gunn is no stranger to working with former pro wrestlers and getting excellent performances (see the Guardians of the Galaxy franchise), but Cena’s work as a mirror Cap, being loud, violent, and hypocritical, all while serving multiple life sentences in prison and pretending to be a proud patriot and soldier is both a fascinating commentary and performance. By the end of The Suicide Squad, between Cena’s acting and Gunn’s directing combined, you’re going to either love, hate, or love to hate Peacemaker.

Those two are only a small part of the overall cast, as the actual Suicide Squad itself is pretty large, so I won’t go extensively into each and every member—I don’t want those of you who do take the time to read my reviews to waste all day, as much as I appreciate it—but I can give you a highlights rundown. Margot Robbie is back as Harley. She’s fun, she gets an excellent monologue and one really enjoyable action sequence, but you can definitely tell she didn’t get as much interaction with the other characters on the page. Sylvester Stallone voices Nanaue, a half shark man. He’s cute for a giant shark… man. Gunn develops Rick Flagg (Joel Kinnaman) from a boilerplate military leader in the first film to a tired but engaging and fun to watch liaison between Waller and the Squad. Newcomers Idris Elba as Bloodsport—a mercenary with a unique weapon set he can modify to suit any of his tactical needs—and Daniela Melchior as Ratcatcher (II) serve as both the heart and the reminder of the thesis Gunn has been developing through his films. Meanwhile, Sean Gunn plays Weasel, the true hero and star of the show. 

From Slither (2006 – read my retro review here) to Guardians to The Suicide Squad, Gunn has reminded us that people in power will hide behind it and abuse it, and that has a major effect on the world, often making it seem pretty shitty and terrifying. But, as the Squad itself shows, even if people say you’re a “bad” person, if you can make a difference, you’re able to make things one iota better tomorrow, and fix the wrongs of yesterday, you should give a damn and try. You may actually make a difference and find people like you. Gunn even gets to continue some of his trademark creature and gore effects, turning Starro from one of the goofier villains of the Golden Age of comics to a downright terrifying monstrosity. Once a Starro has you in The Suicide Squad, you, as an individual, are dead.

While I did love the majority of The Suicide Squad, there are some minor issues I have. The film does lag towards the middle. While I am a fan of Gunn’s song choices, the amount of needle drops during the film felt excessive, like it contained even more pop than a Quentin Tarantino soundtrack. That said, the sound mixing is nice, especially if you’re in an area where you can safely see this in a theater, like I did!

About Chris Filipowicz

Born in small town Montana, Chris is a writer, artist, raccoon rehabilitator, and general supporter of disability rights and awareness. He loves film, especially horror, sci-fi, and animation; and has read comics since he was a child.

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