By: Amanda Guarragi
For many comic book fans, the closer the live-action is to the source material, the better it is. Meaning, that the director needs to understand, that the more obscure aspects of the material, should be done full out. That is what James Gunn did with The Suicide Squad. He chose the villains from Belle Reve, who would have never seen the light of day because they are the bottom of the barrel. Which is exactly what everyone thought of Guardians of the Galaxy, and look how that turned out. At times this didn’t feel like a comic book film, but there are some nice comic panel touches, that Gunn added, to bring you right back into the madness.
From the moment this film begins, it has James Gunn written all over it. They are very self-aware about the film they are making. These villains are wild, chaotic, and loose cannons. When Amanda Waller (Viola Davis) walks in, and begins to assemble the first task force, we get a quick recap of what it means to be a part of the squad. We see some familiar faces like Rick Flag (Joel Kinnaman) and Captain Boomerang (Jai Courtney), but there are plenty of new characters. Within the first ten minutes, Gunn sets the tone for how insane this film is going to be. The stakes are high; no one is safe, and that’s why this works so well.
Gunn also had a great balance between comedic and emotional moments, even if some jokes didn’t really land. The entire cast worked well together, but the standouts were Ratcatcher 2 (Daniela Melchor), Bloodsport (Idris Elba), and King Shark (Sylvester Stallone). As far as new characters go, these are the ones that should move forward in the DCEU, they stole every single scene they were in. For the hype that Peacemaker (John Cena) received leading up to this film, he was very underwhelming throughout. He is very arrogant and his character only works with a group of people, I find it hard to believe that he would be an interesting solo character. Cena delivered a solid performance, and did what he had to do, but the character fed off the banter and energy of others, especially Bloodsport.
The one character that didn’t sit right with me was Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie). We had a near-perfect iteration of her in Birds of Prey, and this felt like a step down from her growth in that film. For majority of the film Quinn is by herself, she was by no means a damsel in distress, and she had great action scenes, but Gunn made her dumb. Harley Quinn has two sides of her, the intelligent Dr. Harleen Quinzel, and the chaotic Harley Quinn, but she is always very aware of both sides, and someone who knows her would blend that (i.e., Christina Hodson). Quinn lacked the same vibrant, tough energy from Birds of Prey and it was noticeable. Robbie always gives her heart and soul when playing Quinn, but the writing should have been better and consistent with Birds of Prey.
All in all, The Suicide Squad is a lot of fun. It’s very entertaining, chaotic, funny, and you have no idea what is about to happen next. Gunn crafted gory and violent action scenes that had me laughing. He did think outside the box with certain characters and that is what made it fun. Even though the structure of this film felt a bit all over the place, the characters really brought this all together. Of course the soundtrack works well with the action scenes, and the giant kaiju blew me away. Probably some of the best VFX work in a third act I have seen since Zack Snyder’s Justice League. It was polished and it looked wicked. Definitely catch this in IMAX if you can, you will get a kick out of it.