I’ve been trying not to write about relatively new films so I can avoid spoilers but here’s your spoiler alert for “The Suicide Squad”. I’m not going to ruin things but I’m going to talk about the film so read at your peril.
From the beginning, it’s important to make the distinction between “The Suicide Squad”(2021) and “Suicide Squad”(2016). “The Suicide Squad” is billed as a standalone sequel to “Suicide Squad” but it was also referred to as a “soft reboot”. So it operates in an in between space, not quite a proper sequel but not an independent event.
I went to see “The Suicide Squad” in the IMAX in Odeon in Blanchardstown on Monday. I’m not sure what I was expecting but I was definitely impressed. I knew that James Gunn was involved but I had very little faith in DC to get it right. I guess I was probably expecting something like “Guardians of the Galaxy: Vol 2” crossed with “Deadpool”. At this point the charm of “Deadpool” has well and truly worn off and the second Guardians film, while better on the second viewing, was a weaker sequel. I had seen the trailers and they were pretty good, but I was confused as to why this film was being made at all.
The first Suicide Squad film was shit. It looked crap. There was all that nonsense with Jared Leto as the Joker. It seemed like it was more focused on seeming gritty than actually doing anything. It felt wasteful to use so many characters so badly. When you hear the criticism from the writer and director, David Ayer, it all kinda makes sense. Too much messing around, too much changing track midway. It’s just disjointed and if not for the cast and the promotion of it, the film would be very forgettable.
So since that was so bad, why make a sequel? There was some positive feedback to Margot Robbie’s Harley Quinn and they made the “Birds of Prey”. That was an alright film but not really a success financially. It really felt like they had a bad film in “Suicide Squad”, tried to milk what was good from it in “Birds of Prey” and at that point it should have been time to quit. There just didn’t seem like audiences would have an appetite for it. I definitely didn’t think I wanted to see a sequel.
But it’s great. It’s very funny. Plenty of proper laugh out loud moments. The characters are great. The characters are from source material so that might not seem like something that “The Suicide Squad” deserves credit for, but “Suicide Squad” managed to fuck up pretty cool characters so we can’t take that for granted. The cast are pretty solid and everybody was good in it. It’s always great to see David Dastmalchian. He’s very entertaining as Polka-Dot Man. John Cena kinda steals the show as Peacemaker. It’s probably Idris Elba’s best performance in a while. He’s a weird one. He was great in “The Wire” and I’m sure he’s had some other good roles since then, but it mostly seems like his acting has been limited to putting on glasses to show that he’s smart. He’s good in “The Suicide Squad” though.
One of the biggest things that I liked about the film was that it made pretty brave choices. I’m not going to get into details because that’s spoiler territory, but bravery is one of the most important things in film making in my opinion. The other DC films have been relentlessly cowardly in their approach to everything. The changes in direction; the casting in some cases; and even just the fucking storylines have not been brave enough to warrant the films being made. The last Wonder Woman film is the best example. Just unambitious crap. And the truth about it is that a film that doesn’t make brave choices is a film that has been made in an attempt to trick an audience. They’re not working hard to be original or interesting because they think that audiences are stupid enough to go to anything if there’s enough promo behind it. “The Suicide Squad” is trying to do more than that and I liked that about it.
The interesting question from watching “The Suicide Squad” is: has there been a better sequel that should never have been made? Despite the philosophical debates around whether “The Suicide Squad” is a pure sequel to “Suicide Squad”, the fact of the matter is, from the studio’s point of view, this was a sequel. It’s the same source material, same cinematic universe, same characters and even the same cast. The consensus is that sequels are usually worse. There’s a laziness to sequels as a concept and they have a vibe of selling out. So the opposite is interesting. A lazy film with an ambitious and interesting sequel. I would be interested to know if this has been through hard work and vision from someone over at Warner Bros. or if it was just a case of the stars aligning after successive blunders.
However “The Suicide Squad” came into existence, I feel like it was a great film. I could very easily see myself going to see it again this week. Lots of laughs, great action, great characters. Just an all around great time. Very much worth a watch.