I was one of the few people who liked 2016’s Suicide Squad. I thought it was a good, turn-your-brain-off action film. But, alas, I was in the minority. If there was to be a sequel, some changes had to be made.
Into Warner Brothers’ lap fell James Gunn. Marvel briefly fired Gunn back in 2018 for comments he wrote of social media. Other studios weren’t as bothered by the posts, Warners included. Warners snapped James Gunn up and put him on the next Suicide Squad sequel.
That was one of the best decisions Warner Brothers ever made. Because as much as I loved the first film, The Suicide Squad is superior in just about every way.
This time around, the team is called on by Amanda Waller (Viola Davis) to invade the nation of Corto Maltese. The country underwent a military coup and an anti-American regime has taken over. They are developing a weapon of mass destruction dubbed “Project: Starfish.” Waller wants Task Force X to destroy the weapon before it can be used on United States.
As Rich mentioned in his review, it would be only natural to compare Gunn’s work here with his work in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. I’d prefer to take a different track. I want to compare this film to the DCEU work of Zack Snyder as a way to show how The Suicide Squad is the best DCEU film to date.
Now, no matter where you go–movie theaters, comic book shops, the street–I’d wager most people would choose Snyder over Gunn as the better director. However, when it comes to comic book films, Warners would have been better served giving the keys to the DCEU to Gunn instead of Snyder and this film shows it.
If you have read any of my reviews of Zack Snyder’s films, you know that I have been critical of his reliance on his directorial tricks, especially his excessive use of slow motion. Gunn uses a bunch of cinematic flourishes here, but they are designed to break up the monotony, not create it. Scenes play out in reflections. Flashbacks appear in vehicle windows while a character is speaking about them. None take the viewer out of the narrative. All make the film more interesting.
Then there is the R-rating. Like Rich said, The Suicide Squad earns it’s R-rating. No “Batman drops the F-bomb” in the hopes of being “edgy.” This film is violent in a way that doesn’t shy away from the gruesome gore and when characters say their variations of the F-word, the situation calls for it. This film deserves its R-rating and uses it to its fullest potential.
The film is also, at times, laugh out loud funny. In Snyder’s DCEU films, the humor seems forced, stilted. It is almost like you can see the executive’s handwriting stating “Insert Joke Here” while watching the film. Gunn is as skilled in comedy as he is in action. The humor arises naturally through the characters and their situations. It is an integral part of the film with out every taking away from the action or the story.
But the main difference comes from the overall style of each director. Snyder appears to direct to impress, expecting viewers to lavish praise on his work. And that policy has become effective enough to have him develop an echo chamber to constantly sing his praises. Gunn seems satisfied with merely entertaining his audiences. If they leave the theater happy, that is the only reward he needs.
The result is that The Suicide Squad is a fun and thrilling ride. Well made, solidly constructed, visceral and laugh out loud funny. We know know that Gunn is headed back to the MCU with work on Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 3. But Warners would do well to try to lure him back into their fold. The DCEU needs more films like this one.
NOTE: There is a post-credits scene. So, be sure to stick around until then.