Writer/director James Gunn has filled his superhero action adventure film “The Suicide Squad” with mountains of mayhem, buckets of blood and a gorge full of gore. Foremost among all of the victims of his spectacularly staged massacres is the milk toast 2016 “Suicide Squad.” Its place in the comic book movie world has been obliterated by the new offering.
Gunn didn’t make the same mistakes David Ayer made in writing and directing the 2016 version of “Suicide Squad.” Ayer was so intent on making his film stay within the perimeters of a PG-13 rating that every scene played soft. That was the fatal flaw as no movie that deals with a group of homicidal villains on a no-rules mission should pull back on the violence.
There’s no hesitation on Gunn’s part. All acts of violence in his film are so over the top they tend to bump into orbiting satellites. Under other circumstances that would be considered a mistake but when a film starts with a blood bath, there’s no reason to drain the tub until the end.
“The Suicide Squad” starts at high speed. A group of villains are forced into a secret mission to save the world through the heavy-handed demands of Amanda Waller (played with fuming passion by Viola Davis). The group ranges from the crowd favorite Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie) to the super creepy Weasel (Sean Gunn).
The opening scenes establish the rules for the movie – there are no rules. No member of the squad is safe. The only thing that matters is how well the violence is blended with the dark comic humor.
It falls to a group that includes Bloodsport (Idris Elba), Peacemaker (John Cena), Ratcatcher 2 (Daniela Melchior), King Shark (Sylvester Stallone) and Polka-Dot Man (David Dastmalchian) to infiltrate a secret base and stop a global threat. Fans of DC Comics will recognize that threat from coming deep in the comic company’s history.
After an explosive opening, the film sets off on a series of big events that all lead to a massive conclusion. The ending is great but it is the journey that Gunn provides that is the real treat.
Gunn – whose past work includes the “Guardians of the Galaxy” movies – has a great knack for being able to unleash the most violent and aggressive action scenes and then temper it with comedy. He uses that style in “The Suicide Squad” from the first to last (secret scene) frame.
One example comes after a massive gun battle where Bloodsport, Harley Quinn and Polka-Dot Man get into a discussion regarding the death of a member of their group named Milton. Quinn – through a perfectly played scene by Robbie – shows her pure insanity by arguing she didn’t know there was someone named Milton. Elba’s character gets to show his frustration and Polka-Dot man his twisted compassion while creating big laughs.
It should be noted that in a film loaded with law-breaking acts, Dastmalchian is the biggest lawbreaker as he is guilty of scene stealing in the first degree. He has an unmatched skill for being able to show the maniacal nature of his character with a single look. But, he is equally strong showing the sweeter side of the character who is dealing with mommy issues. Polka-Dot Man could be a standalone film as long as Dastmalchian is playing him.
The new “Squad” is not a sequel nor is it a retelling. It has touches of being a follow-up offering with the return of Waller, Harley Quinn and Captain Boomerang (Jai Courtney). But, that’s where the connection ends. Despite the similar name, these are two completely different ways of telling the story of the Suicide Squad. Gunn’s version just happens to be a far superior direction.
The fact Gunn does not play safe whether it be in the sanctity of the DC characters, the use of carnage when a simple kill would do or with the bold splashes of comedy makes the new “The Suicide Squad” one of the best offerings base on a DC Comics franchise if not THE best.
“The Suicide Squad” is playing in theaters and also will be available to subscribers of the streaming service of HBO Max for 30 days. Please note that Gunn’s film justifiably has earned its R rating.
The Suicide Squad
Cast: Idris Elba, Margot Robbie, John Cena, David Dastmalchian, Sylvester Stallone, Viola Davis, Joel Kinnaman, Peter Capaldi.
Director: Sean Gunn
Rated: R for graphic violence, language, gore, nudity