“This is suicide.”

“Well, that’s kind of our thing.”

The Suicide Squad. Emphasis on “The.” In 2016, David Ayer directed the long awaited DCEU antihero anthem, Suicide Squad. Focusing on some of DC’s most high-profile villains like Harley Quinn and Joker, it was bound to be an entertaining film. However, not even the obscene amounts of money spent on marketing could save this over-hyped flop. Flash forward to James Gunn’s initial dismissal from Marvel, and any subsequent Guardians of the Galaxy projects due to his “in poor taste” past comments on Twitter. At the time DC found itself on life-support in desperate need of a defibrillator shock as it continued to lose out against the ever gargantuan Marvel. DC and Warner Brothers scooped Gunn up and asked him to be at the helm of this… reboot? Sequel? Well the terminology gets muddled, but Gunn signed on to write and direct what we now see before us as The Suicide Squad. Emphasis on “The.”

Bringing back a few of its original characters, The Suicide Squad, or in this case now rebranded as Task Force X, because Suicide Squad is “too degrading,” is still run by Amanda Waller (Viola Davis) through her vehemently abhorrent means. Each of these expendable “antiheroes” has a chip located behind their neck — a detonator of sorts. Don’t stray or Amanda will blow you away. The mission this time orders our group of misfits to storm an island off the coast of South America that has now been taken over by a new regime. It is believed that this island is the location for a mysterious building that houses some extraterrestrial materials, that if gotten into the wrong hands, could be a danger to the whole world. The mission is pretty simple. Get in. Get out. And by the end, you will have 10 years shaved off your time at Belle Reve. A place that, according to Waller, has the “highest mortality rate in the entire U.S. prison system.”

Well on paper it sounds easy. Once the Suicide Squad storms the beach, it’s pure chaos as the new government’s military is waiting to pounce. Nothing is ever quiet when the Suicide Squad is involved, and the violence that conveniently seems to follow. Maybe that was the 2016 version’s biggest downfall. With a PG-13 rating Suicide Squad didn’t offer the “bad to the bone” vibe that needed to be conveyed to the audiences. It was watered down and lackluster. Dark and brooding, but no real darkness was involved. It took itself too serious, but the severity of their actions wasn’t to be found. This time around The Suicide Squad holds nothing back as the action grips you. The blood count is by the gallons and the violence is not for the faint of heart. By all means, it deserves its clear R-rating.

As I said, the ensemble of characters have a few returning from its predecessor, but most of the villains this time around are going to be newbies, and thank goodness for that. Margot Robbie’s take on Harley Quinn is getting to be a welcomed classic at this point — a foundational must-have for wherever this franchise decides to take us. What’s interesting about Harley’s role is that the load does not rest purely on her shoulders. You have the introduction of Bloodsport (Idris Elba), the leader of their group, who takes the mission only when Waller threatens his daughter. Peacemaker (John Cena), an odd name for a man who says he will kill whomever he needs to in order to achieve such peace. Ratcatcher 2 (Daniela Melchior), a young woman who can command rats, but a heart-warming friend to have by your side. King Shark (Sylvester Stallone), a daft beast who’s the muscle of the operation, and last but not least, Flag (Joel Kinnaman) — one of the few returning from the first film. These characters, you may notice, aren’t your usual all-star bunch of villains from the DCEU, and apparently that’s how Gunn wanted it. He wanted the characters that aren’t normally talked about, the ones that spend their existence in the background.

The Suicide Squad made a huge stride from where it was only a few years ago. In 2019, Gunn was reinstated as the writer and director for Guardians of the Galaxy 3 after outcry from fans and celebrities alike. And although Gunn has returned to his Marvel roots, whether it be permanent or temporary, Gunn stated himself that making The Suicide Squad was one of the best experience he’s had — mostly due to the trust Warner Bros. had in him. Sure, The Suicide Squad isn’t the greatest comic book film, but it’s a step in the right direction, and entertaining as hell!

The Suicide Squad

Written and Directed by: James Gunn

Starring: Margot Robbie, Idris Elba, John Cena, Viola Davis, Joel Kinnaman, Daniela Melchior, David Dastmalchian, and Sylvester Stallone

Rating: B-

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