James Gunn’s The Suicide Squad is ferociously funny and devilishly cool. I can’t think of another director who could have made this movie.
Besides James Gunn’s obvious mother issues on full display here, his vision of The Suicide Squad fully encompasses his filmography of oddball ways and horror sensibilities. It can be bloody disgusting, ferociously funny, and devilishly cool. I can’t think of another director who could have made this movie.
This sequel, retooling or resetting DC Extended Universe’s Suicide Squad, has Amanda Waller (Viola Davis) returning. How has she kept her job since the last go around? Because she is a ruthless government official who changes staff more often than professional football teams. She finds a dozen or so new and familiar (anti-)superheroes and sends them to the South American island nation of Corto Maltese.
Col. Rick Flag (Joel Kinnaman) is back leading supervillains without going into too much detail. His team consists of the likes of Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie), Bloodsport (Idris Elba), Peacemaker (John Cena), King Shark (voiced by Sylvester Stallone), Ratcatcher 2 (Daniela Melchior), TBK (Nathan Fillion), and Weasel (Sean Gunn). He leads them on a search and destroy mission (is there any other kind?). For their participation, Walle will cut ten years off their sentences. That’s if they make it out alive after targeting an anti-American government that runs a Nazi lab experimenting on its own citizens.
Gunn’s film is much more of the modern update of Suicide Squad created by Joel Ostrander in 1987. The first incarnation debuted in 1959 (The Brave and the Bold #25) and focused more on the origins of Kinneman’s Col. Flag. This version may not be for anyone’s taste, but you can’t argue how a wholly original and unique adaptation captures the spirit of this comic book series. The unapologetic, ruthless, and business-like approach completely stripped of melodrama is refreshing. This fits the anti-hero world we currently live in.
Case in point— his opening scene is a complete pallet cleanser of the first incarnation. It completely sets the tone that anything will or can happen going forward. The difference between Gunn’s version and Ayer’s is nearly night and day. The latter is a much more standard, big-budget movie churned out by the Hollywood machine. Almost sterile and pristine comparably with this retooling. Gunn’s film leaves a gory and blood-soaked trail of good times in its wake. Even more than his earlier work, like his cult hit Slither.
As I have mentioned repeatedly, The Suicide Squad is incredibly violent but a type of amusement park violence that cannot be taken too seriously. Even in a film that is so darkly comic. His film works because his script outlines characters that are unique and have a sense of identity. There are surprise twists, unexpected departures, and some of the most eccentric characters and downright weird scenarios you’ll ever see in a major studio comic book film.
He has never been ashamed of letting his freak flag fly. This Squad is much better for it.