One of the best sequels of all time.
THE SUICIDE SQUAD (2021)
In 2016, Warner Bros. released its answer to Guardians of the Galaxy: Suicide Squad. An obnoxious assembly of mostly obscure comic book characters, propelled by a dope soundtrack, it went on to become arguably one of the worst films ever made in the superhero genre. Now, five years later, after actually bringing the man behind Guardians onboard, Warner Bros. has allowed him to do more than just add a “The” to the title. Here, James Gunn has single handedly corrected the franchise’s course and conversely created what I believe to be one of the best films in the superhero genre and one of the best sequels of all time.
All hail James Gunn! No pun intended, but he pulls no punches here. Not only are all of his signature quirks and trademarks present, but they’re amplified by 150%. Even though I’d love to elaborate, the cleanest example I can give is that his brother has two cameos in this film.
While most directors of comic book adaptations are familiar with the source material by the time shooting begins, you can clearly tell that Gunn has lived and breathed this stuff his whole life. I recall a few months ago when someone asked him if there would be a Director’s Cut of the film, and he responded that the final film is the Director’s Cut. You can totally feel that here. Having also written the script, you can tell that no idea or action is left unturned by him or his characters. I mean the fact that a giant starfish is an antagonist should have already told you that though.
Between his boundless humor and unconventional vision, Gunn achieves the impossible: he makes you care about Pete Davidson (kidding). In all seriousness, he crafts a comic book film that actually feels like it's ripped off the page.
Where to begin…?
The film follows a group of various superpowered villains, known as Task Force X, as they are sent into a remote location to do a dirty job for the US government in exchange for time off their lengthy sentences.
That’s the most basic version of the synopsis. And I’ll opt from saying more because from beginning to end this film is filled with twists and turns that will blow your mind. There were some moments that were a bit predictable, I will admit; however, as a frequent moviegoer, you kind of gain sense for those things. Regardless, casual moviegoers and diehard fans of the franchise and characters will still have a blast.
One of the best things that this film has going for it, unlike the original, is that no character truly is safe. That’s as close to spoiler territory as I’ll go.
ACTING | CHARACTERS | DIALOGUE:
As you can probably tell from the marketing, there are a ton of actors and characters in this. As I’ve just mentioned - and as the title clearly implies - not everyone makes it out alive. Nevertheless, for an ensemble this huge, no character feels underutilized or left out. Everyone plays their part in the story. Some are bigger. Some are better. But all are important.
The one character who I can already tell is going to jive with fans and kids (for those parents crazy enough to take them to this) is King Shark. The total antithesis of Groot, he’s ferocious, he’s always hungry for flesh, and he can flex a vocabulary of more than three words. The thing I enjoyed about him the most though is that he gets equal time to be cute and carnivorous.
And yes, even though Margot Robbie, Idris Elba, and John Cena headline the film, there’s one other relative newcomer - Daniela Melchior - who is sure to blow audiences away too. With a codename like Ratcatcher 2, you probably wouldn’t think twice about her, but she really does shine. Along the way, she makes the rest of the squad and even the audience change their mind. This’ll be a massive breakout role for her, and I can’t wait to see what she does next.
VISUAL EFFECTS | MAKEUP | DESIGN:
Like most films in the genre, this film features a slew of great special effects. Oddly enough, I don’t think the bulge in John Cena’s briefs is one of them.
While King Shark and Starro are the CGI standouts (and the occasional addition of someone’s mom), there are tons of other things that looked so awesome that my mouth dropped more often than I’m proud to admit. For example, whenever Bloodsport (Elba’s character) pulled out his makeshift guns I gasped like a kid in a candy store. Leave it to the guy with Gunn for a last name to make guns cool again!
The set design is also impressive. For a film that’s supposed to take place in the DCEU’s modern world, it simultaneously looks and feels like it's in its own unique universe.
MUSIC | SCORE | SOUND DESIGN:
With James Gunn at the captain’s wheel, you ought to know that the music is going to be a highlight of the film. While it’s nowhere near as iconic as the soundtrack to the Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 1 (in my opinion), it’s just as enjoyable. As of this moment, I can’t recall any memorable “bops” though.
The sound design is also great. In some action sequences, the sound is so crisp that it provides another means for you to feel what’s happening. The best examples I can think off of the top of my head are when King Shark is munching on someone or when Ratcatcher summons her furry friends. As it should, it provides another layer of entertainment to the story.
If you were to tell me five years ago that a sequel to Suicide Squad would go on to be one of my favorite superhero films of all time, I’d laugh in your face; however, I stand here today to say that that is the case. The Suicide Squad is unapologetically bonkers, and because of that not only is it one of my favorite films in the genre, I think it’s also the best thing Gunn’s ever done, the best thing DCEU’s ever cranked out too, and one of the best films of the year too.