‘The Suicide Squad’ Blows its Predecessor Away with James Gunn’s Love of Gore and Good Laughs

A still from 'The Suicide Squad'. Pictured L-R: Polka-Dot Man (David Dastmalchian), Peacekeeper (John Cena), King Shark, Bloodshot (Idris Elba) and Ratcatcher 2 (Daniela Melchior).
Warner Bros. Pictures

When James Gunn was announced as writer/director of The Suicide Squad, Warner Bros.’ second attempt at DC’s riff on The Dirty Dozen, expectations were high. Gunn’s Guardians of the Galaxy films are known as some of the best output from Marvel Studios in recent years and the prospect of the mastermind behind them taking a shot at the “World’s worst heroes” was an exciting one to say the least.

To say The Suicide Squad meets those expectations is an understatement. It exceeds those expectations. The Suicide Squad is an uncompromising deconstruction of the superhero genre. Not only that but it’s an intelligent satire of American politics (Reaganomics in particular), involvement in foreign affairs, a gross out/gory blockbuster, a heartfelt look into what makes us all different, and Gunn returning to his Troma Studios roots. It’s everything you wanted from the first film and then some.

The film follows Amanda Waller (Viola Davis) putting together another Task Force X (aka The Suicide Squad), a team of vicious criminals sent on dangerous government-sanctioned missions in exchange for reduced prison sentences. This time the team consists of Superman villain Bloodshot (Idris Elba), Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie), Polka-Dot Man (David Dastmalchian), Ratcatcher 2 (Daniela Melchior), Peacekeeper (John Cena), and a various assortment of Z-list DC villains. They’re all headed up once again by Rick Flag (Joel Kinnaman) and sent to Corto Maltese (into essentially a Warzone) and all hell breaks loose.

A still from 'The Suicide Squad'. Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie) is pictured in a midshot, just off centre frame, both her arms outstretched holding guns. She is in a dimly lit historic-looking room and wearing a red gown with ruffled sleeves, Her blonde hair is in pigtails hanging low with one bunch dyed red and the other black. Her nose is bleeding profusely.
Warner Bros. Pictures

What follows is one of the goriest and most entertaining blockbusters in recent memory. If your criticism with 2016’s abysmal Suicide Squad was that it felt like there were no stakes, that is remedied here in an instant. Gunn’s sharp-witted writing and appreciation for gore and bodily harm is on full display here. Something absolutely horrifying can be on display but with Gunn at the controls you’ll be laughing through it. The movie is a really good time. 

For as good as the movie is, it is not without its faults. For as good as Elba as Bloodshot is, his backstory is painfully a retread of a storyline we saw in the first Suicide Squad, but thankfully we have newcomers like Melchior’s Ratcatcher 2 to pick up for the slack in that department with a heartfelt story that honestly feels like the heart of the movie. There’s also a semi-slow second act that takes a while to get going, but the explosive final act more than makes up for it. Gunn’s strengths (and weaknesses) are on full display here.

At the end of the day, there isn’t much more you can say about The Suicide Squad except that through and through it’s the movie 2016’s Suicide Squad should have been. All while being a gore-ridden, heartfelt, hilarious, shocking superhero satire in its own right. If this is any indication of the work Gunn is going to give us in the DCEU, then by all means I personally can’t help but be excited for it. The Suicide Squad is easily one of the most entertaining and shocking comic book movies I’ve ever seen in the dawn of comic book movie fatigue.

The Suicide Squad is out in cinemas now

by Reyna Cervantes

Reyna (She/They) is located in southern California! They are an aspiring screenwriter with experience in sound design and production work, their 3 favourite films are Evil Dead 2, Star Wars: The Last Jedi, and Frances Ha. All of their social handles are @JFCDoomblade (twitter, insta, letterboxd).

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