The Suicide Squad (2021)
The Suicide Squad (2021)

Genre: Action Comedy and Superhero Running Time: 2 hrs. 12 min.

Release Date: August 6th, 2021 MPAA Rating: R

Director: James Gunn Actors: Idris Elba, Margot Robbie, Joel Kinnaman, John Cena, Daniela Melchior, David Dastmalchian, Sylvester Stallone, Viola Davis, Alice Braga, Peter Capaldi, Juan Diego Botto




ith writer/director James Gunn at the helm, the soundtrack is of the utmost importance, as evidenced by Johnny Cash’s music as it introduces Savant (Michael Rooker), an inmate with superhuman precision – when it comes to bouncing a ball in the courtyard. Typically contrasting the events onscreen, the musical accompaniment reminds of “Guardians of the Galaxy,” primarily as it utilizes recognizable tunes to offset specific actions or moods. Also familiar is the setup – which is practically nonexistent – involving the merciless government agent Amanda Waller (Viola Davis) as she selects prisoners with special skills to perform in suicide missions in the name of saving the world.

Once again, a reduced sentence is offered (or blackmail is brought up), an explosive device is implanted in the necks of draftees, and Colonel Flag (Joel Kinnaman) commands those disorganized forces in hostile territories (here, the South American territory of Corto Maltese, contending with a military coup). The first platoon consists of an eclectic group of rogues – or some of the least popular, most obscure supervillains – mined from the darkest recesses of DC’s collection of creations, tasked with infiltrating a heavily-guarded coastal garrison. One of these picks is the wild-eyed Weasel – an oversized, anthropomorphized rodent, described as having murdered 27 children – though his teammates are assured of his newfound, cooperative mien.

It’s only been a few years since the original Suicide Squad theatrical release, so it undoubtedly feels too soon to revisit this concept, yet it does allow for Gunn’s version to largely dispense with reiterating the premise; it’s obvious that this is still a modernized, superhero-infused take on “The Dirty Dozen.” As otherworldly expendables, the lead characters are all conspicuously flawed yet marginally lovable screw-ups, destined for redemption – or a messy, mutilative demise. And no excuse is needed to see Margot Robbie reprise her role as Harley Quinn; three movies in, and she’s still spot-on for the part. Other major characters include Bloodsport (Idris Elba), whose involvement is an improved substitution for Will Smith’s Deadshot; Peacemaker (John Cena), whose unshakeable jingoism proves morbidly malleable; Polka-Dot Man (David Dastmalchian), whose superpowers are comically self-explanatory; King Shark (Sylvester Stallone), a two-legged, carnivorous fish-monster that can barely communicate; and Ratcatcher 2 (Daniela Melchior), a young woman who can summon swarms of diminutive guardian gnawers.

The undertakings are still generic black-ops gigs, requiring infiltration, extraction, assassination, and demolition; the plot isn’t especially creative, nor are the side missions (here, the secretive goal of uncovering Project Starfish in an extraterrestrial laboratory at Jotunheim). But the characters are virtually all used for humor, which Gunn toys with keenly; superhero movies tend to work better when they’re not handled too seriously. It also helps that his scripting isn’t censored; with the freedom of a hard-R-rating, this remake/reboot offers copious amounts of violence and cursing, as well as a sprinkling of nudity. Everything is hard-edged, even while maintaining a visual goofiness.

“Nothing like a bloodbath to start the day.” Bloodsport and Peacemaker boast a surprisingly good chemistry, continuously trading barbs as if in a longstanding rivalry, while nonstop gimmicks, weird twists, ludicrous personas, random destruction, eccentric backstories, CG monstrosities, and chaotic action sequences – all layered with comic relief – round out a decent bit of entertainment. It’s more fun than it should be, considering the extravagant violence tends to grow repetitive and wearisome; the edgy jokes and visual grotesqueries lose their potency when so much of the picture is an orgy of death, devastation, and wisecracks. But the 2016 episode set the bar so low that anything is a vast improvement – and this latest reimagining is likely the best one might hope for from the flimsy story. The antiheroes are appropriately heroic, the antagonists are so despicable that even supervillains are palatable by comparison, and the finale – finally exploring the extents of nonsensical superpowers, like a turbocharged take on Baron Munchausen’s assemblage of rare compatriots – is an exciting exercise in excessiveness. None of it will likely stand the test of time, but it’s quite amusing in the moment.

– Mike Massie

  • 7/10

The DC Extended Universe

Man of Steel (2013)

Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016)

Suicide Squad (2016)

Wonder Woman (2017)

Justice League (2017)

Aquaman (2018)

Shazam! (2019)

Birds of Prey (2020)

Wonder Woman 1984 (2020)

The Suicide Squad (2021)

Black Adam (2022)

Shazam! Fury of the Gods (2023)

The Flash (2023)

Blue Beetle (2023)

Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom (2023)