THE SUICIDE SQUAD (2021)
Starring Margot Robbie, Idris Elba, John Cena, Joel Kinnaman, Sylvester Stallone, Viola Davis, Jai Courtney, Peter Capaldi, David Dastmalchian, Daniela Melchior, Michael Rooker, Alice Braga, Pete Davidson, Nathan Fillion, Sean Gunn, Flula Borg, Mayling Ng, Steve Agee, Juan Diego Botto, Storm Reid, Lloyd Kauffman, Pom Klementieff and Taika Waititi.
Screenplay by James Gunn.
Directed by James Gunn.
Distributed by Warner Bros. 132 minutes. Rated R.
The Suicide Squad is one kind of crazy superhero film – full of irony and bile.
Superhero films generally are of two types: those whose creators assume that they exist in a world where the heroes are real and are a part of normal life and the other which presumes that they’re not. They’re really in a world that’s exaggerated, metaphoric or ironic.
In a classic superhero scenario – whether it’s a film or TV series like Daredevil – the story is meant to feel like it’s happening in the real world. The city is New York, the characters behave like humans behave and their lives exist beyond their “super-ness.” In these films, though we don’t necessarily see it happen on screen, they go to the toilet, have breakfast and see movies.
And then there’s the other approach. Take for example The Suicide Squad – the 2021 edition – the recent foray into imagining a world with meta-humans or super-beings. It’s not quite a direct sequel or a reboot but a standalone variation on Suicide Squad (the 2016 version). As the 10th film in the DC Extended Universe (DCEU), the Warner Bros execs decided they needed to have another go at setting their franchise in motion. They favored the nefarious character Harley Quinn (Joker’s former therapist and lover) but didn’t seem quite as happy with the course the team had taken.
Not that the first one, Suicide Squad, was bad in my eyes. It did a pretty good job at following the formula for a superhero/villains story despite the fans’ expectations of it being something more. Now comes the new tale written and directed by Gunn. He drew inspiration from war films and John Ostrander’s 1980s “Suicide Squad” comics and decided to explore new characters in a story separate from the first film’s narrative, though some cast members do return from the earlier “Suicide Squad.”
David Ayer was set to return as director for a Suicide Squad sequel by March 2016, but he chose to develop a Gotham City Sirens film instead. Warner Bros. considered several replacement directors but then hired Gunn to write and direct the film after temporarily being fired by Disney and Marvel Studios as the director of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 (2023).
In the latest film, head intelligence officer Amanda Waller (Viola Davis) returns (from having been in the first film) to send two Task Force X teams composed of inmates from supervillain proof Belle Reve penitentiary. They are led by Colonel Rick Flag and Bloodsport, to the South American island nation of Corto Maltese after its government is overthrown by an anti-American regime. Most of the first crew – which includes Captain Boomerang (Jai Courtney) and Brian Durlin/Savant (Michael Rooker) – are stupidly cut down with much blood-and-guts in full display.
An ensemble cast plays the second team: Margot Robbie (Harley Quinn), Idris Elba (Bloodsport), John Cena (Peacemaker), David Dastmalchian (Abner Krill/Polka-Dot Man) Daniela Melchior (Cleo Caza/Ratcatcher 2), Joel Kinnaman (Colonel Rick Flag), Sylvester Stallone (King Shark), Viola Davis (Amanda Waller), and Peter Capaldi (Gaius Grieves/The Thinker). They enact most of the action since the first group is gone.
In exchange for lighter sentences, the squads are tasked with destroying the Nazi-era laboratory Jötunheim, which holds a secretive experiment known as “Project Starfish.” In doing so, they are to destroy evidence of the giant alien Starro. It’s a creature brought to earth by American astronauts and secretly held on the island to hopefully weaponize it for American defense and profit.
As Gunn develops his narrative, he employs exaggerated B-film tropes throughout from the freaky love-making scene between Harley and the new dictator to the gore-engorged violent acts committed by either this team of meta-human villains or their adversaries. Gunn is out for bombast, laughs and some social commentary along the way. Once again, the military-industrial power establishment is the secret master behind this intergalactic menace and mess. After 50 years of secret testing, they still don’t have a way to control the massive starfish, a mega-beast ala Godzilla which towers over the city spewing mini starfish. Once these little creatures land on a person’s face, Starro takes control of them. It’s finally defeated by a massive swarm of rats that enter a wound in its eye and eat it from the inside out.
By the end of the film, several things are evident. The super-survivors are a black man (Bloodsport/Elba) and a woman (Quinn/Robbie). The government can’t help but double deal. Waller keeps the computer disc evidence secret by cutting a deal with the remnants of the Squad. And chaos is essential to make a superhero film like this work.
Copyright ©2021 PopEntertainment.com. All rights reserved. Posted: August 9, 2021.