The Suicide Squad (2021)
Directed by James Gunn
Starring Margot Robbie, Idris Elba, John Cena, Joel Kinnaman, Viola Davis
Hey! Let’s add a “The” to the title and hope everyone forgets the fact that the same film came out five years ago. I assume that was James Gunn’s pitch to Warner Brothers. At the time he signed on to direct, Gunn was a hot–if not the hottest–director in the superhero genre. Coming off the wild success of both Guardians of the Galaxy (2014) and Guardians Vol 2 (2017), he had established himself as an authentic auteur who didn’t need recognizable IP for commercial and critical success.
Not everything from David Ayer’s 2016 version was discarded. Harley Quinn is still played by Margot Robbie. Plus, the same plot device is driven by Amanda Waller (Viola Davis) and Colonel Rick Flag (Joel Kinnaman). And finally, Will Smith is back as Deadshot–a guy who can shoot anything with… Oh wait! Ooops… I mean Idris Elba is the newest name on the roster and he’s starring as Bloodsport–a guy that can shoot anything with anything.
As with most James Gunn films, Michael Rooker and brother Sean Gunn both make appearances, and both are delightful as always. Even though the plot may be similar to its predecessor, this version (the one with the “The” in the title) focuses on being funny instead of “trying” to be funny. The ridiculous nature of the characters coupled with Tarintino-esque-ultra-violence creates fast paced laughs alongside “Holy shit! Did you see that?” moments. At 2 hours and 12 minutes, The Suicide Squad finished far too early.
The third act is a lesson to all Superhero films: even the CGI driven “Big Bad” can be done in a way that is new and original. Suicide Squad (2016), Justice League and even Avengers: Age of Ultron failed with their third acts, but Gunn is now 3 for 3 with his dynamic finale storytelling skills.
Did the director tweet some unfunny things that were used against him in retribution for the “canceling” of Rosanne Barr? Sure. Are they both talented artists who deserve to say stupid shit and still create their art? Yeah, why not.
If the sequel to The Avengers was a B-, and the “sequel” to The Justice League (Zack Snyder’s Justice League) was a C-, then this sequel is a A-.