Studio: Warner Bros. Pictures
Release Date: Theatrical, HBO Max streaming service – August 6, 2021; Digital – September 17, 2021; 4K UHD Blu-ray, Blu-ray, DVD – October 26, 2021
Description: From writer/director James Gunn comes Warner Bros. Pictures’ superhero action adventure The Suicide Squad, featuring a collection of the most degenerate delinquents in the DC lineup.
Welcome to hell—a.k.a. Belle Reve, the prison with the highest mortality rate in the US of A. Where the worst Super-Villains are kept and where they will do anything to get out—even join the super-secret, super-shady Task Force X. Today’s do-or-die assignment? Assemble a collection of cons, including Bloodsport, Peacemaker, Captain Boomerang, Ratcatcher 2, Savant, King Shark, Blackguard, Javelin and everyone’s favourite psycho, Harley Quinn. Then arm them heavily and drop them (literally) on the remote, enemy-infused island of Corto Maltese. Trekking through a jungle teeming with militant adversaries and guerrilla forces at every turn, the Squad is on a search-and-destroy mission with only Colonel Rick Flag on the ground to make them behave…and Amanda Waller’s government techies in their ears, tracking their every movement. And as always, one wrong move and they’re dead (whether at the hands of their opponents, a teammate, or Waller herself). If anyone’s laying down bets, the smart money is against them—all of them.
The film stars Margot Robbie, Idris Elba, John Cena, Joel Kinnaman, Jai Courtney, Peter Capaldi, David Dastmalchian, Daniela Melchior, Michael Rooker, Alice Braga, Pete Davidson, Joaquín Cosio, Juan Diego Botto, Storm Reid, Nathan Fillion, Steve Agee, Sean Gunn, Mayling Ng , Flula Borg, Jennifer Holland and Tinashe Kajese, with Sylvester Stallone, and Viola Davis.
Gunn directs from his own screenplay, based on characters from DC. The film is produced by Charles Roven and Peter Safran, with Zack Snyder, Deborah Snyder, Walter Hamada, Chantal Nong Vo, Nikolas Korda and Richard Suckle executive producing. Gunn’s creative team includes director of photography Henry Braham, production designer Beth Mickle, editors Fred Raskin and Christian Wagner and Oscar-nominated costume designer Judianna Makovsky. The music is by John Murphy. Warner Bros. Pictures Presents An Atlas Entertainment/Peter Safran Production, A James Gunn Film, The Suicide Squad. The film will be distributed worldwide by Warner Bros. Pictures. It is set for release in theatres August 6, 2021.
The Suicide Squad Movie Review
By James Harvey
Task Force X returns to save the world again, whether they want to or not, in The Suicide Squad, unquestionably one of the strongest efforts from DC Comics’ recent big-screen-based exploits. Director James Gunn (Guardians of the Galaxy, Slither) takes the reins for this mission, delivering a heartfelt-but-also-hilariously vulgar and violently joyful adventure through some of the dirtiest corners of the DC Universe. While it may hit some familiar story beats along the way, The Suicide Squad never-the-less remains a surprisingly arresting and effective romp that successfully stands out in an increasingly-crowded superhero movie market.
Picking up after 2016’s Suicide Squad and 2020’s Birds of Prey, The Suicide Squad finds the squad on a mission to Corto Maltese, a small Latin American country currently in political upheaval following a military coup. Not only is this new regime far more ruthless than the previous government, but they also now have access to a secret extraterrestrial weapon (called Project Starfish) that could devastate the world. With the U.S. government out of options, they send Task Force X off to destroy the weapon (oh, and not die if they can help it) and, of course, things go awry.
Please note spoilers will be kept to a minimum, though some specific scenes and events will be mentioned. Also, while The Suicide Squad features many of the same players and is essentially a sequel, watching the original 2016 Suicide Squad by David Ayer is not required. Gunn has that all covered.
The Suicide Squad feels fresh amidst a sea of pretty standard theatrical superhero fare, offering something of a palate cleanser. Instead of the clean, polished, continuity-minded projects we’ve gotten as of late – not that they haven’t been great, don’t get me wrong, they have been – here we get something just dirty, messy and enthusiastically fun. While we know basically what to expect when we see a new movie based on one of our favorite comic book characters, The Suicide Squad makes a concentrated effort to offer something new, and successfully so. Refreshingly, the movie also flashes its four-color roots in nearly every frame, never shying away of just how ridiculous comic books can be. Gunn’s obviously deep appreciation for the source material is unmissable.
Taking cues from his early days at Troma Entertainment – a low-budget independent studio which churned out gory, schlocky (and wicked) horror movies starting back in the early 1970s, among other awesome offerings – Gunn drenches the screen in red right from the get-go (seriously, it doesn’t take long for bodies to start dropping) in some of the most cheerfully violent ways imaginable. And it works oh so well. If ever there was a comic book movie Gunn was born to direct, it’s The Suicide Squad. He’s clearly in his element here, and his appreciation for the source material bleeds off every frame. While there are some updated elements to it (Harley Quinn for one), this movie feels ripped right out of the pages from the original Suicide Squad run back in the late-1980s.
Also, with the exception of a few characters clearly telegraphed to make it to the end credits, there’s a tangible feeling that nearly any character could go at any time (and yes, there are some surprises).
While the destination may be basically the same as what’s come before – bad guys need to save the world – The Suicide Squad‘s journey is anything but. It’s a warped spectacle, bursting with great characters, genuine surprises and hard laughs, and some incredible visuals. It’s also packed with plenty of heart and terrible people that you’ll end up rooting for in the end despite how truly despicable (but usually lovably so) they are. Even with the movie’s somewhat predictable story beats, Gunn still manages to subvert expectations. The film’s clever extended opening sequence is not only a prime example of this, but also an uproarious showcase of Gunn’s demented skill.
Making up the main cast of The Suicide Squad is Margot Robbie’s Harley Quinn, Idris Elba’s Bloodsport, John Cena’s The Peacemaker, Joel Kinnaman’s Rick Flagg, David Dastmalchian’s The Polka-Dot Man, Daniela Melchior’s Ratcatcher 2, along with Sylvester Stallone’s King Shark and Viola Davis’ Amanda Waller. While all their respective roles in the film’s plot may vary, Gunn gives each above the lion’s share of the screentime, taking the time to establish each character and giving them legitimately meaningful story-arcs that ultimately get us on “their” side (mostly). Suffice it to say, more than a few members of the squad have some pretty messed-up backstories. Gunn’s arc for Harley Quinn is especially surprising and feels right as the next step in the character’s theatrical journey. Quinn also gets a couple great set pieces toward the end of the film that are show-stoppingly gorgeous.
All in all, the characters here basically hit the expected archetypes that’s been unofficially established by superteam movies over the last few years. The reluctant leader, the loose cannon, the dopey macho man, the sidekick, the sad sack, and so on, they’re all here in The Suicide Squad. But what would’ve been just the same old tired tropes are instead here bolstered by fully-developed characters with strong story-arcs and unexpected twists. Gunn gets you invested in these characters while at the same time making you feel perhaps a little guilty (and rightfully so) for laughing at some of the truly horrible things they do. It also doesn’t hurt that the assembled performers not only have great chemistry together, and are clearly having a blast, but are absolutely game for whatever Gunn unleashes upon them.
It’s also refreshing that The Suicide Squad tells a complete story from beginning to end. There’s no need to read up or revisit previous movies, everything we need is here (though knowing the established cinematic history between some of the characters – like Captain Boomerang, Harley and Flagg – does admittedly add a little something extra to their scenes together). It’s a welcome change and makes for a better experience as opposed to this being just another movie that’s little more than a cog in a much bigger, increasingly-convoluted multi-film serial narrative.
For everything it does right, The Suicide Squad does seem to struggle a little with its pace. When the film moves into its climactic third act, which devolves into a series of lengthy successive action sequences, you really start to feel the 132-minute runtime. As with the 2016 original, The Suicide Squad struggles to give the team an adequate “big bad” threat, opting to go instead (for the most part) with the tried and true army of faceless targets and mass-scale carnage. While Gunn tries to make the climax work by tossing in a couple neat twists, a numbing sensation starts to set in as the mindless-but-usually creative action just keeps going and going. There’s some great character work here, some of it legitimately and heartbreakingly tragic, but it mostly gets walked over and buried under the impressive-but-excessive set pieces.
Weirdly wholesome at its core, The Suicide Squad is not only the most deliriously twisted superhero movie ever made, without a doubt, it’s also one of the genre’s best from the last few years. It proudly wears it’s comic book roots on its sleeves and leans into it, and it’s all the more better for it. It feels novel, refreshing and never takes itself too seriously, coming at just the right time to give the superhero genre a much-needed kick.
While its last act stretches on a little too long, it’s never-the-less an invigorating blast from start to finish. The Suicide Squad is an ultra-violent, crass madcap caper that just so happens to take our characters on an equally engaging emotional escapade, and it walks that tricky tightrope with ease. Plus, at the end of it all, it’s just an awesome movie (with a killer soundtrack), one only Gunn could so successfully pull off. Highly Recommended!