Wednesday 4 August 2021

The Suicide Squad (Movie Review)

Ever since it was first shown off at the DC FanDome event last year, The Suicide Squad had quickly grown to become one of my most anticipated films. So of course I was going to go see it at the earliest opportunity and on the biggest screen available. The film had released in the UK and other select territories last week, but advance screenings have just started here in Nigeria, ahead of its worldwide rollout in theaters and HBO Max this Friday. And out of all the same-day movies we have gotten on the latter thus far, this is the one that demands to be seen at the cinema the strongest.

Much like the 2016 film with which it shares its title and some of its characters, the new film once again finds government agent Rick Flag (Joel Kinnaman) leading a team of antiheroes on a suicide mission. This time around, Task Force X as they are officially known is tasked with infiltrating the island nation of Corto Maltese, where they are to find and destroy all evidence of something called Project Starfish. But what they find there is well beyond anything they could have imagined or prepared for.

The Suicide Squad is hands down the most fun I've had in a movie theater since Avengers: Endgame. And in many ways, the film is just as epic and packed with emotional highs as that other film. James Gunn breathes new life into its roster of characters, with familiar faces like Harley Quinn making a return. And much like Guardians of the Galaxy, his DNA was on full display once again. From music choices that heighten the on-screen action, to stylishly presented setpieces that rival some of the very best in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

The trailers might have already hinted at some of this, but trust me when I say they simply don't do justice to how brilliant the execution is in the actual movie. The best part is how utterly crazy and bonkers the film gets, pushing the boundaries for comic book movies in the best way possible. And speaking of bonkers, the film is also perhaps the bloodiest I've had the pleasure of witnessing in a cinema, easily earning its R rating. And thankfully, most of it isn't mere blood and guts for the sake of it, like Birds of Prey before it, where its R rating felt very much tacked on.

In my review of the 2016 version of Suicide Squad, I had accused that film of being all style with very little substance, which is one thing that can't be said about this one. The new movie has an overall charm that was very much lacking in that other film, as well as way more heart than I had expected. I was especially surprised by how much I grew to care about its characters over the course of the film, with each one getting to shine with their unique abilities and fully-fleshed out backstories. I am tempted to name Polka-Dot Man as a highlight, but that would suggest that other characters like King Shark or Rat Catcher weren't as endearing, which was certainly not the case.

I realize I have spent the bulk of this review gushing about the new Suicide Squad film, and the critic in me would at least like to point out one or two shortcomings. But the fan in me genuinely thinks that this movie ticks all of the boxes, and should serve as a prime example of how to adapt these types of movies going forward. This is not to say that the movie was flawless by any stretch of the imagination, but rather an illustration of how all the things it does right elevates it beyond any perceived shortcomings.

The Suicide Squad is not only one of the best DCEU films to date, it is also one of the best comic book movies, period. It is leagues ahead of the 2016 David Ayer film that preceded it, and the more recent Birds of Prey, so much so that it is almost hard to imagine that all three movies exist within the same universe. James Gunn has delivered a take on the property that fires on all cylinders. I can't say enough good things about the film, so do yourself a favor and go see it for yourself. Just make sure it is on the biggest screen available.