A $185 million do-over
David Ayer’s Suicide Squad (2016) was a massive success for Warner Brothers, raking in over $700 million at the box office. Naturally then a sequel was in the works soon after, however Warner Brothers were put in a precarious situation as both audience and critical reception to the first film were largely negative. They had a hugely popular intellectual property to capitalize on but wanted to avoid the production mishaps of the original. This led them to replace David Ayer with writer-director James Gunn, of Guardians of the Galaxy fame. Gunn’s new film, The Suicide Squad is much less of a sequel to the 2016 film and more like a remake or reboot, adding his signature level of polish to a series in desperate need of it.
Essentially entirely detached from the original film, audiences don’t need to worry about watching the original film before this one. The core of the film even remains the same, a group of dangerous prisoners are blackmailed into a deadly mission to reduce time off their sentences… if they survive. Unlike the original, Gunn’s Suicide Squad places a much larger emphasis on the danger of the mission these convicts are on, often killing off seemingly important main characters.
This leads to my favorite aspect of The Suicide Squad, the gore. As a horror fan, the art of dismemberment is one close to my heart and apparently Gunn’s as well. James Gunn got his start in moviemaking at the B-movie horror production studio, Troma. A shlocky horror parody studio, Gunn pays homage to his origins in the over-the-top action and gore throughout The Suicide Squad. These stylized deaths can be played for humor or tug on your heartstrings, but this R-rated style of filmmaking gives Gunn a new level of freedom that he seems incredibly comfortable creating in.
Aside from this new aspect, Gunn’s film can be uneven in other areas. Much like his work at Marvel, Gunn loves including a constant stream of jokes side by side with action and drama. These jokes are incredibly hit or miss, but thankfully they come quickly enough that they never overstay their welcome. Additionally, the ambitious scope of the film leads to the pacing suffering from slow spells. However, Gunn’s endearing characters also help to ease this flaw as the slower moments are more engaging thanks to the excellent writing,
A considerable upgrade in quality compared to the 2016 film, The Suicide Squad is not without its flaws, but is one of the most fun and unique blockbusters of 2021. – 3.5/5 stars