The Suicide Squad (2021)

“The” so as not to confuse it with it’s predecessor. The Suicide Squad seems to have a much greater division of opinions than the first one. Where it succeeds the most is by incorporating the humor of writer director James Gunn, who is responsible for the two “Guardians of the Galaxy” films in the MCU. This time out, Gunn is operating in the DCEU and he scrapes the bottom of the barrel, purposefully, to dreg up characters with which to play. The reason that this is a good idea is simple, a lot of them are going to die and you don’t want to be too attached. This may be a bit of a spoiler, which I always try to limit, but it does come in the first ten minutes of the movie; the team we see being assembled is wiped out and we discover in a do over sequence that a parallel team was deployed on the same mission. 

It’s no surprise that Harley Quinn does survive and joins in the second mission. Margot Robie was the breakout star of the previous film and has already had her own starring feature released to the audience. I think her character works best in limited doses and that is what we get here. She certainly has lots to do but is not on screen the whole time. Gunn instead focuses on the strangely matched characters on the second team and the horrible things they do as they try to accomplish the same mission. When you have a character called “King Shark” and he is basically a shark on legs, you can imagine very easily the kind of mayhem that will follow. That character is also the strongest of the squad and he is capable of ripping a human being in half with is hands, which he does. The powers that some of these characters have are a little silly, until you see them in action. Ratcatcher 2 and Polka Dot man were the standouts from my perspective. 

Sometimes it feels like Gunn is just going for the most grotesque image or idea he can think of that will shock and delight us at the same time. It does get a little tiresome at times and there is some repetition. On the other hand, there are plenty of surprise visuals that are simply silly fun and I think would get lost if he pulled in the reins too much. So it is a bit of a double edged sword. Speaking of silly fun, I again don’t want to spoil anything but the ultimate big bad in the story is why they changed the ending of “Watchmen”. The tone would just not have worked in that film the way it does here.

As a movie onto itself, “The Suicide Squad” can function pretty well. I don’t think it would fit in to have any of the DC mainstream heroes cross paths with this group. In the 2016 film, “Batman” had a small role. There is a passing reference to “Superman” in this film, but that is the extent of the connection. My suggestion to the makers of the DC films, is to refrain from doing all the team up Justice League type stories and stick to the stand alone films for a while. They seem to work better and you won’t have to worry about timelines or multiverses or any of the other strategies that the MCU is now having to deploy. 

There are a few surprises about the characters who survive at the end. Expect TV series follow ups and insertion into other films for these villain/hero types. I will say that I enjoyed immensely, the shot to the face that one of the first team characters takes. The actor is not someone I care for much and his character was reprehensible enough that you may find yourself cheering for the wrong side at times. There is a great moment for Viola Davis to shine in her part as the cold blooded architect of the Suicide Squad concept, and then there is a comeuppance from an unlikely source that seems to have delighted everyone. Her character, Amanda Waller, has been the true  villain in both films, so that moment felt earned