‘The Suicide Squad’ Proves It’s Worth The Wait


Liam Hagan, Staff Writer

The newest addition to the DCEU, brought to us by the infamous James Gunn is the reboot/remake/sequel to the 2016 misfire “Suicide Squad,” this time cleverly titled “The Suicide Squad.”
This picture wrapped filming in February 2020, just squeaking by before the world was shut down due to COVID-19. And a year and a half later it is now released on HBO MAX and in theaters.
Cut and dry: this movie is worth that wait and would have been worth it with an even longer delay. Luckily audiences do have the opportunity to see this chaotic and beautiful mess of a movie now.
James Gunn is at his absolute highest peak with what is now his fifth directed feature film (just don’t count the crime against humanity that is “Movie 43”). Gunn has combined several of his strongest abilities from his previous works to create a superhero film that stands above most, purely based on its style.
Politically incorrect humor, classic rock spikes, complicated yet likeable characters, and gore galore. This script is very tight for such a large film with sprawling locations, several characters, and many interweaving plot lines.
Gunn’s script for “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2” was quite messy and was not able to balance the humor with the heart nearly as well as the first Guardians entry and “The Suicide Squad.”
This film is able to move from an animated shark with a dad bod ripping a man in half, voiced by Sylvester Stallone, to a woman who controls rats making the audience incredibly sympathetic toward her due to strong development and a tragic backstory.
The cast is clearly all in on Gunn’s writing as well. Big movie stars giving grounded yet big performances like Idris Elba, Margot Robbie, John Cena, Viola Davis, and Joel Kinnaman. And notable character actors taking smaller roles just to be part of this unique roller coaster like Pete Davidson, Nathan Fillion, Jai Courtney, and Michael Rooker.
And yes, this film without a shadow of a doubt earns its R rating. Profanity used just the right amount to seem realistic while also not being relied on too often for cheap jokes.
Some gorgeous gore is also featured, a few times being utilized through practical effects. And two hilarious showcases of male nudity that on both occasions produced a roaring laugh, specifically John Cena’s time in the sun.
Speaking of Cena, he legitimately proves himself to broader audiences by being able to display a newer side of his acting range. The semi-current wrestler is notable in the wrestling world for never turning heel; meaning to become the bad guy. Well, this proves to wrestling fans Cena would excel in playing a heel role.
Cena’s character, Peacemaker, is an extremely despicable man who stands out in a group of other greatly flawed characters. Despite him successfully revealing that he can do more than play the muscle head or cringe humor role player, his Peacemaker does receive the least backstory and personal development of any of the main squad. This is likely because this character is getting his own series coming to HBO MAX early next year, penned by Gunn. So, his best material will be saved for the show.
Elba, who plays Bloodsport, the forced leader of the squad and Robbie, who returns to play Harley Quinn for the third time, are also excellent. These two play off each other well and every other character as well. They help to establish the team roles and group dynamic.
But a special shout-out is deserved to be bestowed to two performers. First, David Dastmalchian who brings the often laughing stock of a character, Polka-Dot Man to life. delivers an earnest and relatable sense of humanity to a role that could have easily been a bit part and used as a joke every 10 minutes in the movie. By the third act you care about Polka-Dot Man just as much as the other characters. You understand why he is truly valuable and deserving of respect.
And finally, Daniela Melchior is the heart and soul of “The Suicide Squad.” She, too, plays a character that prior to the film’s release would not pass the popularity contest, but thanks to Gunn’s writing and her performance, this character is one that will hopefully be explored further in the future.
Melchior plays Ratcatcher 2, a young woman who just wants to get some much-needed shuteye with her pet rat, Sebastian. When she is put front and center, she confirms herself to be a true team player in the mission and really does save the day more than once. The 24-year-old actress is outstanding in this film and if she was anything short of fantastic, then the film’s pathos would be unearned and messy. Audiences should be very excited to see where her young career takes her.
The performances are the most entertaining aspect of the film, but again, there are other elements that elevate this film from good to great. An effective third act is unfortunately rare for superhero movies nowadays, yet this picture improves as it goes, and the third act is arguably the strongest one.
Additionally, the cinematography and camera work brought to us by Gunn and cinematographer Henry Abraham is exceptional and never dull.
This is not to say this entertaining and well-made film is without flaws. The second act drags once it starts to flesh out and conclude its multiple plot lines, although none of the side stories feel unnecessary or boring.
And, of course, with any James Gunn movie – especially one that runs over two hours with a talented cast up and down the board – not every joke lands. Fortunately, as long as you can appreciate or at least can tolerate crude humor and excess violence “The Suicide Squad” is the film for you. It does not detract anything from its 2016 predecessor, but also does not make new viewers who have not seen that film feel out of the loop at all. Making this a film for hardcore comic book lovers and general audiences.
James Gunn was clearly a kid in a candy store creating his vision of what this property should be. This is certainly a film worth checking out in theaters as it looks and sounds great, but, of course due to Covid restrictions and it being free on HBO max, that option is not an unworthy one either.
And, unfortunately, the film’s opening weekend at the box office indicates that most people have not made the trip to the theater to experience “The Suicide Squad.” It opened with the lowest weekend revenue out of any DCEU film and on top of the two large factors mentioned earlier, another unfortunate reason may be the grime that is left on this title and property from the 2016 film. Despite that version making a pretty penny at the box office, it was critically panned and has not garnered much love since. With this new film holding almost the exact same title as the previous one and having recurring characters, audiences may just not feel enthused or motivated to give this film a shot, even though it is incredibly superior in every way to the first film.
Regardless, it is refreshing to see a comic book film that takes itself just serious enough to know what chords to hit with audiences while still having fun in an extremely saturated market for the genre. Come for the hope of avenging a disappointing original “Suicide Squad,’ and stay for an Oscar nominee from the 1970’s say “Nom Nom” in a killer sharks body before eating evil henchman.