DC super heroes movies have been generally running second fiddle to Marvel’s releases not only in quantity but sometimes, arguably in quality as well. Warner Bros. Studios seem to be having a lot of issues every time they produce a DC movie. Take the Justice League for example, where the movie turned out to be a total mess only to be redeemed years later with a 4 hours Zack Snyder’s cut! The latest DC release was also laden with delay issues that amounted to multiple changes in directors. Finally James Gunn (director of Guardians of the Galaxy) was hired to write and direct, after he was fired by Disney because of some inappropriate Instagram posts he made long before he became famous! Anyway, Disney’s loss became Warner’s gain as he is a force to be reckoned with. Right? Well …..
James Gunn’s The Suicide Squad finally gets its release now so fans can judge for themselves if this sequel to the 2016 Suicide Squad is an improvement or not. For me, I have my reservations. Firstly, I am confused by the lack of imagination for the film’s title. The title only had the additional “The” in front to differentiate it from its sequel! That makes me immediately wonder, given Warner’s bad track records with DC films, whether this is a sequel or a reboot or maybe even a remake of sorts. Watching this it has very little reference to the earlier film with only two returning characters, Harley Quinn (played by Margot Robbie) and Amanda Waller, the director of deadly missions (played by Viola Davis) with a plot that has no references to the earlier movie. The look and feel seems totally different as well. James Gunn obviously had a hand in this as evident with his trademark style here.
But, The Suicide Squad is no Guardians of the Galaxy. There are no lovable and infectious characters with the charms of Chris Pratt as Star Lord or the cute and funny antics of Rocket and Groot. Instead we have a bunch of blood thirsty, often clueless punks masquerading as the reluctant superheroes that come together to save the world. The attempt to have a Groot like character in the form of King Shark voiced by Sylvester Stallone came across feeling like a rehash with forced sense of humour. The constant rivalry between Bloodsport (Idris Elba) and Peacemaker (John Cena) was also not that effective and we couldn’t feel any humorous appeal in their antipathy. Apparently James Gunn wanted to make an R rated superheroes movie so to satisfy that need, we have lots of outlandish violence, and a dialouge splattered with profanities. Suprisingly Margot Robbie’s Harley Quinn character was for me, the only one that came across with the spirit and temperament of the franchise. I had always hated the Harley Quinn character especially in her solo outing Birds of Prey, as she is portrayed as an irresponsible loney tune character that goes about killing and maiming people for laughs. I felt this was a really damaging message to convey especially to the younger more impressionable audience, as it appeared to be glamorising callous behaviour and laughs at the expense of others. Here, she behaves surpringly more toned down and there were no demonstration of those deadly pranks. Her Harley Quinn at least came across as one character that stood out with a unique brand of humour and weirdness that was consistent with her image.
Don’t get me wrong here though. The Suicide Squad was not totally bad, and there were parts which I really did like. The film’s opening gambit for example was fun with some unexpected outcomes. I also liked the unconventional characters and outfits. Many of the earlier gags were outrageously funny and there were also some nice killing shots which were very James Gunn-nish. However, after awhile the novelty began to wear thin especially when some of the gags were repeated, as in the case of Polka Dot Man seeing images of his mother in his victims and Killer Shark devouring his human victims. The movie definitely felt like it was running for too long with its run time of 2 hours 12 minutes and by the time the familiar final noisy act of mass destruction comes in I was already getting impatient for it to end. When will Hollywood learn that all these explosive endings with mass destruction with buildings crashing and countless lives technically killed as a result, does not equal entertainment? It has been done countless of times before and offers nothing new. Just a sad assumption that so much money needs to be spent to produce such scenes of carnage when a quieter, more thought provoking and clever ending would probably be far more impactful and memorable.