James Gunn had an impossible task. Not only did he have to make a Suicide Squad movie, which even hearing that name in a cinematic sense could set off someone's fight or flight instincts. He also had to make it good, and in the already shaky DC Cinematic Universe, is in all honesty a tall order. These movies aren't typically very good, most border on absolute garbage, and the ones that ARE good don't make up for the rest of them. Luckily, I can tell you with my whole entire chest...
...It's good. It's really fucking good.
When this film was announced I had very little in the way of expectation. Gunn was just dropped from Guardians Vol. 3 at the time due to some old tweets resurfacing, DC was STILL finding ways to butcher incredibly easy characters to pull off, and after the fiasco that was 2016's Suicide Squad, I never wanted to hear about these characters ever again. I couldn't see a reality where anyone could pull off a "sort of" sequel to an already dogshit franchise. However, the more we learned about it, the more my ears perked up. Not a direct sequel? A hard R rating? John Cena says fuck? Color me intrigued.
Well, I suppose I need to actually type out the review section, so here we go. Spoilers ahead! Fair warning for anyone who hasn't seen it yet. So if you haven't slapped your eyeballs on that screen, go do that, and then come back here, dummy. I'll be waiting.
This movie opens the way most of these "big budget, ensemble cast" movies open: by getting the proverbial band back together. You could put this side by side with the intro to the 2016 film, and other than it looking shinier and sillier, it's really the same opening shot. It's been done a million times, but it's fine. I still bought in. We also find out about the squads mission at this point. They've been tasked to go to an island nation that's housing dangerous technology, and its a Suicide Mission, etc. I think you're seeing the pattern.
So, the main characters ship out to the aforementioned island, they land on the beach, and promptly all get slaughtered in a gunfight.
I wish I was kidding. A good 70 percent of the cast gets eliminated in the first 30 minutes, if that. Which I applaud James Gunn for immensely. He could've caved to certain industry pressures and expectations that come with casting certain people, but he really said fuck it and let big name actors get shot in the skull, or turn fan favorite characters into pink mist against a helicopter blade. I wish it hadn't happened so fast, and we'll get to that in a minute because I have gripes, but let's stick with the happy for now.
Speaking of the cast, holy shit did Warner Brothers pull out the checkbook for this one. They brought back returning actors Margot Robbie (Harley Quinn), Joel Kinnaman (Col. Rick Flag), and Viola Davis (Amanda Waller). They also managed to snag a truckload of big name actors to play new characters, and while I have very little knowledge of really any of these new players, the people playing them all swung for the fences and knocked it out of the park.
Idris Elba, John Cena, Daniela Melchior, and Sly Stallone all turn in excellent performances, with David Dastmalchian giving us some of his best work to date. The cast was incredibly well thought out from top to bottom. Even the supporting cast was amazing, with people like Alice Braga and Nathan Fillion giving us exactly what we needed from their respective roles. The only downside was that they killed my boy Captain Boomerang, played by the lovely Jai Courtney, in that opening shitstorm. I saw that as a waste of a good character.
The writing was top notch as well. Gunn's dialogue in his movies has always been something I've admired. It always has this natural flow to it, and even when it's bogged down in silliness, it always fits the characters. The movie is funny, but its not a comedy. Its serious, without being too overbearing. It achieves that perfect harmonious balance that I feel is lacking in a lot of these comic book movies. So, now that we've talked about the good, lets talk about the bad.
The plot is fucking dumb, and the villain is dogshit.
Let me explain.
I love that Gunn loves these characters. I really do. But one thing I hate is when characters get hyped up, just to be giant letdowns. Captain Boomerang, T.D.K, Mongal...all made out to be these important parts of the puzzle in the lead up to release, just to be slaughtered in the first 30. I get that these guys are meant to be expendable, but it's just lazy to me to have it all be meaningless. It would be like someone getting excited to get an ice cream cone, but once they do it's already melted.
Also, the overall narrative isn't really that strong. The inter-character dynamics are great, but the meat and potatoes plot really is one note. Go to island, take out coup leader, American backed Nazi experiments, etc. Like, I knew where it was going before it got there, and that irked me. Even the little twist with Peacemaker being a double agent, and killing Rick Flag felt telegraphed like twenty minutes before it happened.
Oh, and the fucking villains. Forget the coup leader, he got dealt with almost immediately, I'm talking the REAL bad guys.
The Thinker felt so lame to me. Peter Capaldi nailed it, but his place in the movie was just so corny to me. He was really just in there to play the mad scientist role, and then got decimated by Starro the Conqueror. Fuck Starro, by the way. Starro was never cool. The only thing he ever gave us was Jarro. Real Jarro fans know whats up!
Overall, even with my little gripes, this really was an absolute smash of a movie. This is what happens when you let a man who loves these characters make a movie about them without studio interference. This is how art is made. James Gunn had an impossible task, and he found a way to make it happen.