David Ayer’s “Suicide Squad” (2016) is best described as cinematic masturbation. It’s good for a quick, cheap thrill, but you feel dirty and unsatisfied afterwards.
Maybe that’s why James Gunn’s latest offering, “The Suicide Squad,” feels so satisfying to watch. It’s not a reboot or a remake; it’s a fresh coat of paint on an IP that desperately needed one.
Gunn came to the film after being canned from Marvel’s “Guardians of The Galaxy 3” and his passion for showing fans what they missed out on is evident in “The Suicide Squad.” If he’d left the references to his attempted Twitter mob cancellation I might give this film a perfect grade. Instead, it’s a great way to end the summer: a violent, demented, gory romp through a host of D-list villains attempting to do good in the world.
Returning to Task Force X are Amanda Waller (Viola Davis), Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie), Colonel Rick Flagg (Joel Kinnaman), and Captain Boomerang (Jai Courtney). They are joined by new recruits Savant, Blackguard, Weasel, Peacemaker, King Shark, Ratcatcher 2, Bloodsport, Javelin, T.D.K., Mongal, and the Polka-Dot Man (played by quite the all-star ensemble cast).
This time the Squad is tasked with infiltrating the island of Corto Maltese, a nation recently overtaken by anti-American military generals. They must infiltrate a weapons facility called “Jotunheim” and eliminate a weapon called “Project Starfish.” Survive with the mission complete and the Squad members earn a decade off their prison sentences. Step out of line in any way and they die.
Of course, since we’re dealing with a band of idiot villains, the mission goes pear-shaped pretty quickly and the members of Task Force X must regroup and finish their mission to save the world.
Two major stylistic differences stood out after watching Gunn and Ayer’s treatment of the Suicide Squad. First is Gunn’s use of color. In Ayer’s world the Squad are drab and dreary, wash in a sea of dark colors. Gunn, on the other hand, accentuates the color on screen to give the film a more comic book feel and make some of the violence a bit more tongue in cheek.
Sound is another big style change in the films. Ayer opted for a subdued soundtrack, with notable songs serving as accent pieces for the overall picture. Gunn goes to the deep cuts with music that not only highlights moments, but serves as internal music to let us know when characters use those tunes as a means of coping with their situations in life.
CGI is largely limited to motion capture for the ridiculous King Shark and Weasel, but it does have some novel uses with certain characters experiencing psychotic breaks from reality.
A truly surprising performance comes from John Cena as Peacemaker. If I hadn’t looked up the character I’d swear Gunn created it solely for the former WWE star. There’s a certain combination of Boy Scout and alpha male douchiness that works so well HBO MAX has a Peacemaker series in the works as of this writing.
Cena and Idris Elba (Bloodsport) possess amazing on screen chemistry. This leads to some truly hilarious moments including a sort of dick measuring contest between the two assassins as they compete to see who can kill baddies in the most efficient way.
BLOODSPORT: Non-lethal. Doesn’t count.
PEACEMAKER: Compressed explosive bullets. (Target explodes)
BLOODSPORT: No one likes a show off!
PEACEMAKER: Only when what they’re showing off is dope as FUCK.
BLOODSPORT: Fuck me! (Turns away) He’s right!
If fault can be found with Gunn’s treatment of the Squad it lies in two areas. My first problem are the references to Gunn’s attempted cancelation. Any mention of harming women or children puts the poor sap on Harley Quinn’s list of “red flags for boyfriends.” This usually results in very triggering moments for Ms. Quinn. Pun fully intended.
The second is re-casting Viola Davis as Amanda Waller. While I understand the decision, a much better fit would’ve been CCH Pounder, who did a bang up job voicing the head of Task Force X in many DC animated productions.
These quibbles aside, “The Suicide Squad” is a great end of summer popcorn flick to enjoy as mindless fun. You don’t have to be a comic book fan to enjoy the antics, and make sure when you see the film to not get attached to any specific character.
“The Suicide Squad” is rated R and runs two hours and twelve minutes. It’s currently in theaters and on HBO Max for the next month.
If you need a good laugh and you’re not easily offended, check it out. You might have a great time.