If missing the point was a competition then 2016’s Suicide Squad would be the champion at something for once. In what, by design, should be a violent yet darkly comedic bloodbath of Z-list supervillains, we get a humiliating experience for everyone involved.
Luckily, James Gunn is a filmmaker who specialises in zany pieces about oddball ensembles and has brought everything he can to salvage this franchise. The Suicide Squad offers plenty of colourful personalities strung together with hyper-violence and a dash of sincerity.
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I think I appreciate this film more as an elaborate experiment rather than a feature-length narrative.
The things you see in this film, studios would convulse at if you pitched the ideas present to them. However, Gunn’s confidence and creativity shine through even if it’s not always presented the best way.
This film never takes itself seriously and with a giant purple starfish as the main antagonist, you’d know that.
The giant cast is the film’s biggest strength. Idris Elba plays a very obvious retread of Will Smith’s Deadshot (expert marksman, young daughter, etc) but Elba brings a sardonic charm that was lacking with his predecessor.
Margot Robbie is perfect as Harley Quinn as usual, while John Cena’s stoic humour and abilities as a physical actor provide entertainment in spades.
The most pleasant surprises were the unknown characters of Ratcatcher, King Shark and Polka-Dot Man. Ratcatcher provides an innocent delicacy to the rambunctious happenings around her.
It’s a testament to Gunn’s nerve to take an inherently ridiculous character like Polka-Dot Man and not only play him completely straight but give him the most compelling arc in the story.
King Shark, the Groot of The Suicide Squad, manages to be completely endearing without ever feeling patronising. Just like Groot, he is voiced by an actor that is basically inaudible in Sylvester Stallone, and his casting is perfect.
The inherently goofy nature of the film lends itself to the promise of quirky humour. Surprisingly though, I left the cinema feeling like Gunn had missed a few opportunities for comedic potential.
When it hits, it hits only mildly. Only one sequence led to me laugh out loud and that is because it played to the black-comedy aspects of the film as well as the childish rivalry between Elba and Cena’s characters. I can’t help but feel the script was left to rue what could have been in terms of laughs.
Not only that but the cohesion in the narrative left a lot to be desired. It felt like Gunn was making things up as he went along with every scene being used as an excuse to fit in action sequences regardless if it made sense practically or thematically.
If I found out that the character interactions were written first with a story fitted around it in post-production, it wouldn’t surprise me.
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The first and third acts of The Suicide Squad are very strong, brimming with liveliness and energy. The middle section of the film is a bit too incoherent for my tastes and the overtly spontaneous nature did nothing for me.
That’s more of a ‘me’ thing, as I can see many audience members being engaged. I just believe that Gunn’s strengths with the Guardians of the Galaxy invert and prove to be his undoing here.
It goes without saying that this is infinitely superior to its 2016 predecessor. I’m aware that’s barely a compliment but it is nice to see a great representation of a concept that works on many levels.
James Gunn was the right person for this task, even if I think that his projects with Marvel are superior works.
The Suicide Squad is a violent, irreverent and gleeful experience that revels in its inherent silliness and is anchored by its stellar cast.