So I finally coaxed myself out of the house to see James Gunn's action-comedy sequel THE SUICIDE SQUAD.
I liked James Gunn's vision of Amanda Waller's super-villain-fueled Task Force X, but I definitely had some issues with it.
- SEQUEL(ish)- There's a lot to be said for this approach to a sequel: The story is constructed so that watching the original is not required. I didn't get the sense that this movie is a reboot, like Ayers' Suicide Squad never happened, but this film didn't really NEED it to have happened. Likewise, this could just as easily be in the Snyderverse or in its own world. Moreover, The Suicide Squad is peppered with people, places, and things from DC Comics lore.
- IDRIS BE IDRISSING. In a more-or-less brilliantly cast movie, Idris Elba's masked killing machine Bloodsport was the anchor of the film. He's based on a character I have only seen in comics once:
Bloodsport shot Superman with a Kryptonite needle gun in the fourth issue of John Byrne's late 80's reboot of Superman. Like Will Smith's Deadshot before him, Bloodsport's daughter is the leverage Amanda Waller uses to get the otherwise retired inmate to take point on her eponymous black ops team. Where this character is dishonest and insane in the comic, Idris's Bloodsport is the angry, belligerent, yet resolute rock that forms the foundation of Waller's team.
- SO BAD, THEY'RE GOOD- King Shark and Ratcatcher were fun. Gunn really has a soft spot for these characters, the most fearsome and disgusting characters on the Squad. Like Groot and Rocket on his Guardians of the Galaxy films, these characters are both ugly and adorable. Spared the family-friendly limits of the MCU, Gunn pushes even harder into the edges. Shark is unambiguously monstrous, but he's so dumb it's cute. We are openly invited to be protective of the homeless girl next door Ratcatcher, whatever larcenies she may have committed. Also, don't think about how either of these characters must smell.
- HARLEY QUINN RETURNS- I thought Gunn did a better job with Harley than her previous movie appearances. She came off as a seriously formidable, truly psychotic, yet strangely lovable. Which is to say, I thought Margot Robbie was good in the first film and Birds Of Prey, but this script gave her more to work with. Harley comes out of the Joker's shadow. leaving no question as to her worthiness as a one woman wrecking crew.
Strange as it seems to say this, I think Harley Quinn has the best character arc in the DC movies so far. The next logical step is a true solo movie for DC's emergent anti-heroine. Or maybe a Harley/Poison Ivy team up?
- AMANDA WALLER- Let me start by saying Viola Davis is amazing in this role, even though I have already let it be known that I would have preferred that a fat lady portray Amanda Waller. Davis did everything that could be done with the material that was given to her. The first two acts of the script were fine, but I found Gunn's handling of Amanda Waller in the last act to be pretty weak. She went out like a sucker, which is 100% not on brand for the character.
- FATAL DISTRACTION- Overall, I like the idea that you're watching to see which characters will get killed. As the name implies, Suicide Squad missions are high-risk, and none of these characters (other than Harley) are important enough as an intellectual property to be promised tomorrow. That was a feature of the team from the comics. Unfortunately, Some characters die before they even get a chance to do anything. While this may be a reminder that most supervillains lose every time they leave the house, I would like to have seen some of them live to fight another day.
- Conqueror FAIL- As much as I wanted to have my mind blown by Starro the Conqueror's emergence and rampage in the third act, I will go on record as being underwhelmed by him when it comes down to it. Starro is an amazing choice for a big bad, because it shows that the filmmakers fully embrace that they are recreating comic books for the big screen. Starro is also appropriately disgusting, like a dayglo Lovecraftian elder god. In comics, Starro fights elite teams like the Justice League to a standstill. In The Suicide Squad, Starro is defeated by a team of enemies with only modest superpowers. After he explodes out of captivity, enthralls the bloodthirsty dictator of Corto Maltese, and turns hundreds (maybe thousands) of citizens into cyclopean zombies, the mighty Starro fails to capture even one member of the Suicide Squad into his hive mind. It would have been great for Bloodsport and Harley to have to fight and even kill Starro-enslaved members of their own team, or to have it revealed that other superheroes or villains had fallen to Starro before they got there. Far from being a JL level threat, Starro was killed by a spear and a bunch of rats.
As it is, I don't think you can bring Starro back again as a villain.* Gunn brought out a great villain, and set him up well, but didn't make very good use of him in the end.
Sounds bad, but again, I thoroughly enjoyed The Suicide Squad. The special effects and color palette were great. The casting was great.
I'm a comicbook nerd first and foremost, so I always think my ideas are better than the people who make these movies. But for the most part, it was fun and fast-moving.
*(NOW THAT I THINK ABOUT IT, I have an idea how Starro could return that would be REALLY dope. So forget I said that)
Anyways, that's my two cents for now.
What are the things you liked or didn't like about The Suicide Squad?