Written by: James Gunn
Starring: Margot Robbie, Idris Elba, John Cena, Joel Kinnaman, Sylvester Stallone, Viola Davis
Gathering disposable characters and making them die for our entertainment has been the mantra for the films sharing this titular name. Part of the fun comes from seeing how these disposable figures will be taken off the board and everyone involved with this feature knew exactly what the assignment asked for in crafting a bloody and hilarious romp with some lovable characters.
Sent out for a dangerous mission as is their modus operandi, a ragtag group of superhumans join Rick Flag (Joel Kinnaman). As they dig into the truth behind their mission, they are placed in the moral dilemma of seeing the impact of their work on the rest of the world and must make a decision on how to best proceed moving forward.
With the first of its kind being an abject failure, The Suicide Squad decided to just add an article to the title, keep some of the characters and just try the whole thing again. A hilarious attempt and something that works completely because of it being helmed by the great James Gunn. Very much a director who works incredibly well in the superhero universes while being constrained a bit by the larger studios. This combination created the best movies the Marvel Cinematic Universe has to offer and he picks up right where he left off but now playing with DC characters. Gunn very much matches the appeal of these characters as they take on serious battles but have the attitude of a bunch of outlaws.
Being no expert on comics by any stretch, by going down the cast list of characters I could never quite discern if the characters in this feature are actually real or part of some elaborate prank on the audience. From there being a talking shark voiced by Sylvester Stallone and what appears to be a human-size weasel, I would not have put it past James Gunn to just be messing with me with these wild characters, but it just makes them even more comical to see die in their futile attempts to have time taken off of their prison sentence.
As a whole, the idea that these individuals would be used to such an end in order to advance the wishes of the United States government makes complete sense, which explains why this story works when put into the right hands. All one has to do is match the right tone, introduce compelling if not entertaining characters, and create nothing but mayhem for everyone else to enjoy. Gunn certainly accomplishes this and the interactions between these characters make for some hilarious sequences and some genuinely great visual effects work.
Standing out amongst them, of course, is the talking shark. Very much fitting in the Groot role like in the Guardians films, sometimes the characters who say the least have the biggest impact. This shark is no different and Stallone does a great job making each little word said count. Daniela Melchior as Ratcatcher 2 carries the heart of the feature as the others are mostly there to carry comedically, she has the emotional connection with her past and becomes one of the characters we would actually be sad to see die on this mission. She also does the best job in making the rats cute since Ratatouille, so that’s definitely an achievement to boast about.
On top of that, you have the return of the great Harley Quinn portrayed by Margot Robbie. It’s incredible how much she has made this character her own since initially taking over the role years ago. Very much the equivalent for what Robert Downey Jr has done with Iron Man, there’s just no one else who can be pictured doing this same role. At this point she’s just floating between timelines with the injection of her character and no matter the quality surrounding her, she never fails to deliver. She adds a different element in this feature in what Quinn does but she becomes a nice source of consistency amongst all of the new characters introduced.
Where this film stands out from others comes from a major reveal made in the feature where it makes a distinct criticism of the United States government in a manner no other contemporary mainstream superhero film has dared to do. Heck, you even have films like Captain America: The Winter Soldier blaming every single wrongdoing on the government on a Nazi organization that infiltrated and did all those bad things. The Suicide Squad does not mince any words on being definitive on who the true villains of this universe are even if this crew is comprised of supposed evil individuals. Refreshing in its own way.
Filled with all sorts of fun action, sprinkles of art, and all the comedy James Gunn can expertly install into his features, The Suicide Squad delivers on the promise the original failed to do. Very much standing on its own as part of the larger universe, the freedom in this feature allows it to be more free-wheeling and fun and is much better because of it. A delightful experience overall and one that has plenty of rewatch value.