The Suicide Squad directed by James Gunn — produced by DC Films, Atlas Entertainment, and The Safran Company and distributed by Warner Bros. Pictures —is based on the eponymous DC Comics.
The tenth film in the DC Extended Universe follows the chaotic adventures of the imprisoned convicts of Belle Reve penitentiary, who are sent by Amanda Waller (Viola Davis) — the director of A.R.G.U.S. who runs the Task Force X program — to the South American island of Corto Maltese to destroy Jotunheim. This is a Nazi-era prison and laboratory which held political prisoners and conducted experiments. During the mission, they come into conflict with Starro, a giant, telepathic alien starfish.
The team of inept recruits, who are ready for their new suicide mission, is composed by: Bloodsport, (Idris Elba) Peacemaker (John Cena), Rick Flag (Joel Kinnaman), Nanaue/King Shark (Sylvester Stallone), Captain Boomerang (Jai Courtney), Ratcatcher 2 (Daniela Melchior), Polka-Dot Man (David Dastmalchian) Savant (Michael Rooker), Blackguard (Pete Davidson), Javelin (Flula Borg), Weasel (Sean Gunn), TDK (Nathan Fillion) and Harley Quinn. (Margot Robbie). Within this array of characters there is also the highly-intelligent nefarious super-villain The Thinker (Peter Capaldi). Some of these characters we lose sooner than expected, whilst others, accompany our cinematic journey throughout a bombastic jumble of gratuitous violence.
Whilst the American press is raving about James Gunn’s 2021 new take on The Suicide Squad, I feel more akin to the Italian press that defined it “a heated soup” (minestra riscaldata), i.e. going back to an already prepared dish that is good. Basically, when applied to a film review, it simply means that it’s always the same old story.
Gunn had to breathe new lymph into David Ayer’s 2016 unsuccessful Suicide Squad. But he ends up reviving a narrative we already know. And despite the suspenseful efforts, every plot point is incredibly predictable. He seems to have also made a selection of the cast he considered to work in Ayer’s version (Margot Robbie, Viola Davis and Joel Kinnaman) and to revolutionise the rest.
The cartoonesque choices of visual style, such as having names appear on screen composed by props present in the scene, does not effectively convey the re-creation of the comic effect. Furthermore, many elements come across as regurgitations of other motion pictures. For instance, the characterisation of the StarFish monster evokes the Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man, from the 1984 Ghostbusters. And the effect this monster has on people, turning them into automatons, has been exploited extensively by the zombie genre. Not to mention all the dystopian laboratory films. The weakest past of the film is the humour: the jokes are unwittingly forceful and not amusing at all.
The purpose of entertaining audiences with explosives, heads that blow up, and acrobatic fights, does not suffice to leave the movie theatre with a sensation of elation. Blockbuster superhero films can have all these elements, but what makes them compelling is a hidden soulfulness that allows the characters to be relatable and deliver an inspirational message. In this case the characters are empty: they spring, they somersault, they kill, but without an empathetic cause.
The film will be released in cinemas from August 5th.
Final Grade: C