Tuesday, August 23, 2022

The Suicide Squad (2021 film)


Based on the DC Comics series, The Suicide Squad is a sequel of sorts to the 2016 film in which a group of anti-heroes and villains team-up to stop a major threat in a small South American island nation in the hopes they get a lighter sentence in their prison time. Written for the screen and directed by James Gunn, the film is a different take on this anti-hero group as they deal with corruption and other issues that forces them to save the world from a threat bigger than themselves. Starring Margot Robbie, Idris Elba, John Cena, Joel Kinnaman, Peter Capaldi, David Dastmalchian, Daniela Melchior, Michael Rooker, Jai Courtney, Alice Braga, Pete Davidson, Sean Gunn, with the voice of Sylvester Stallone, and Viola Davis as Amanda Waller. The Suicide Squad is an outlandish yet exhilarating film from James Gunn.

The film revolves around a small South American island who had been taken over during a coup where American intelligence officer Amanda Waller sends two groups of anti-heroes to infiltrate the island to destroy a lab known as the Jotunheim and all of its secrets unaware of what it’s hiding. It is a film that explore these band of misfits, criminals, and anti-heroes who are given a chance to reduce whatever prison sentences they have by helping the government destroy this lab created during World War II by the Nazis. Yet, complications arise where one team lead by Colonel Rick Flag (Joel Kinnaman) with his old teammate Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie) are ambushed with Flag and Quinn both captured forcing the other team lead by the former mercenary Robert DuBois/Bloodsport (Idris Elba) to finish the mission with his own band of misfits that includes the jingoist killer Christopher Smith/Peacemaker (John Cena), a man-eating shark-human hybrid known as Nanaue/King Shark (Steve Agee/voice of Sylvester Stallone), an eccentric man in Abner Krill/Polka Dot Man (David Dastmalchian) who uses polka dots as weapons, and a thief who can summon rats in Cleo Cazo/Ratcatcher 2 (Daniela Melchior) like her father before her.

James Gunn’s screenplay doesn’t go into anything that had happened in the previous film as it is more about what is happening at the moment with DuBois being reluctant to take part of this government-led task force run by Waller because he admits to not being a good person. Yet, when he learns that his estranged 16-year old daughter Tyla (Storm Reid) might be going to prison because of stealing a TV watch. DuBois accepts the tasks unaware that his old friend Colonel Flag is leading the first task force that got ambushed because one of its soldiers sold them out to the army of Corto Maltese with only Colonel Flag and Quinn surviving. Still, the group that DuBois is leading are an odd bunch as he also has a phobia for rats which makes him uncomfortable in his interactions with Cazo even though she is a kind-hearted person who likes to sleep a lot. The military dictatorship of Corto Maltese are hoping to be taken seriously with this mysterious weapon that is overseen by a scientist Gaius Grieves/the Thinker (Peter Capaldi) who is the man that Waller wants DuBois and others to take and bring them into the Jotunheim to destroy whatever Grieves is working on leading to many revelations for those working for Waller.

Gunn’s direction is definitely stylish as it doesn’t just play into some of the cartoonish elements when it comes to some of the film’s graphic violence but also in the fact that it is an anti-superhero film grounded by compelling characters who are all just a bunch of misfits. Shot largely on location at the Pinewood Atlanta Studios in Duluth, Georgia with flashback shots of Cazo as a child with her father (Taika Waititi) in Portugal and some of the streets of Corto Maltese shot on location in Colon, Panama. Gunn does play into the stakes with the first shot revolving around a criminal in Brian Durlin/Savant (Michael Rooker) playing handball with accurate bounces where he is called upon to take part in a group that is led by Colonel Flag with Quinn, Digger Harkness/Boomerang (Jai Courtney), and other anti-heroes such as an idiotic mercenary in Richard “Dick” Hertz/Blackguard (Pete Davidson), Cory Pitzner/T.D.K. (Nathan Fillion), Gunter Braun/Javelin (Flula Borg), the alien mass-murderer Mongol (Mayling Ng), and a weasel named Weasel (Sean Gunn). The usage of wide and medium shots has Gunn playing to the scope of the group shots as well as the island that is Corto Maltese as it has a grimy look that is colorful but also in decay.

Gunn also play into this air of dysfunction within the group as well as what goes on in Waller’s main base with her own team of people who are troubled by some of her decisions but also how she runs things. Even in Gunn’s usage of the close-ups as it play into the way characters interact with one another such as Cazo telling her story to DuBois while asking him about his phobia for rats. The film does have a structure but also some non-linear narratives in the script that includes the film’s third act where it does play into revelations into what is inside the Jotunheim. It adds not just a conflict about what this band of misfits is fighting against but also question on who they’re forced to work for. Even when the weapon that is unveiled proved to be bigger than anything or anyone has expected. Overall, Gunn crafts an outrageous yet insane film about a bunch of antiheroes who go to a small South American island to kill some people and destroy some old fortress as well as what is inside.

Cinematographer Henry Braham does brilliant work with the film’s cinematography as it has elements of style with its usage of vibrant colors, heightened lighting for some of the daytime exteriors, and some unique lighting for some of the interior scenes at night. Editors Fred Raskin and Christian Wagner do excellent work with the editing as it does have some style in some slow-motion work for a fight scene involving Quinn and some soldiers in a hallway as well as jump-cuts and other stylish cuts to play into the story. Production designer Beth Mickle, with set decorator Lisa K. Sessions and supervising art director Alan Hook, does amazing work with the look of the buildings of the island as well as the prison where many of the people of the Suicide Squad live in as well as the club that Grieves visits. Costume designer Judianna Makovsky does fantastic work with the costumes as it has different looks for many of the different members of the Suicide Squad including Krill’s polka dot costume, the helmets that DuBois and Smith’s helmets, and the red dress that Quinn would wear upon her dinner with one of the dictators.

The special makeup effects work of Greg Funk, Shane Mahan, Brian Sipe, and Matt Sprunger do incredible work with the look of some of the characters with Krill and the polka dot rashes he has on his face as well as Quinn’s own look. Special effects designers Ethan Carney, Peter Carney, and Bailey Eller, along with visual effects supervisor Kelvin McIlwain, do phenomenal work with the visual effects in the design of Nanaue as well as a big thing that would occur in the film’s climax. Sound designer David Acord does superb work with the sound in some of the sound effects created in some of the weapons the characters create as well as some of the places they go to. The film’s music by John Murphy does wonderful work with the music as it has elements of orchestral bombast to play into the action and suspense along with somber pieces that include a theme for Cazo’s story while the music soundtrack features an array of pieces from Johnny Cash, Pixies, the Decemberists, Kansas, the Fratellis, Ceu, K.Flay, Grandson with Jessie Reyez, Louis Prima, Culture Abuse, and the trio of Drik Barbosa, Gloria Groove, and Karol Conka.

The casting by Yiniva Cardenas and John Papsidera is marvelous as it feature notable small roles and appearances from Lloyd Kaufman as a man at the club, Pom Klementieff in an un-credited performance as a lead dancer in the nightclub, Natalia Safran as the villainous inmate Kaleidoscope, John Leland Gore as the incarcerated villain Double Down, Lynne Ashe as Krill’s mother whom he sees whenever he gets really angry, Sean Gunn in a dual role as the strange animal creature known as Weasel and a convicted villain in Calendar Man, Mikaela Hoover as General Suarez’s secretary Camila, Julio Ruiz as a contact for the Suicide Squad in Milton, Maya Le Clark as the young Cazo, Storm Reid as DuBois’ teenage daughter Tyla who hates her father yet is facing a possible prison sentence, and Taika Waititi as Cazo’s father who is the original Ratcatcher who taught his daughters about the worth of rats. In the roles of Amanda Waller’s team who survey over the whereabouts of the Suicide Squad, the performances of Jennifer Holland as Emilia Harcourt, Tinashe Kajese as Flo Crawley, and Steve Agee as John Economos are terrific as the trio who question Waller’s intentions and methods as well as discovering what the Suicide Squad had discovered.

Juan Diego Botto and Joaquin Cosio are superb in their respective roles as the villainous dictators Silvio Luna and General Mateo Suarez as two men who want to prove that their island is nothing to laugh at with the former being a romantic that is in love with Harley Quinn while the latter is just a man of power. In the roles of members of the first Suicide Squad group shown early in the film, Mayling Ng as the alien murderess Mongal, Flula Borg as the athletic Gunter Braun/Javelin who uses a javelin as a weapon that Quinn would later use, and Nathan Fillion as Corey Pitzner/T.D.K. who can detach his arms as weapons are fun to watch in what they can do despite being betrayed with Pete Davidson in a fine small role as the idiotic mercenary Dick Hertz/Blackguard while Michael Rooker’s performance as Brian Durlin/Savant and Jai Courtney’s performance as Digger Harkness/Captain Boomerang are a joy to watch with Rooker being the most deadly despite the ambush he had to encounter. Alice Braga is fantastic in her small role as a Corto Maltese rebel leader in Sol Soria who helps out DuBois and his team in overthrowing Luna and General Suarez while also being aware that something worse is happening.

Peter Capaldi is excellent as Gaius Grieves/the Thinker as a scientist who has been experimenting with a mysterious being inside this old Nazi lab/fortress where he is also this man that isn’t afraid to talk shit as he brings a lot of humor to his performance. Viola Davis is brilliant as Amanda Waller as an intelligence officer who organizes the missions and watches over the Suicide Squad as well as playing to their fate in concealing her own intentions for the government. Joel Kinnaman is amazing as Colonel Rick Flag as a military leader who lead one task force of the group until an ambush ruined everything where he is later saved in his capture where he reunites with his old friend DuBois where they both make a discovery into what is inside the lab that questions Flag’s own role for the government. David Dastmalchian is hilarious as Abner Krill/Polka Dot Man as an experiment gone wrong who gets polka dot rashes and uses polka dots as weapons where Dastmalchian has a sensitivity to the way he portrays the character but is also someone with an offbeat sense of humor.

Daniela Melchior is incredible as Cleo Cazo/Ratcatcher 2 as a thief who can summon rats like her father before her as she is also someone who is kind to everyone while also being accompanied by her pet rat named Sebastian who takes a liking towards DuBois. Sylvester Stallone is a fucking hoot in his voice performance as Nanaue/King Shark with Steve Agee doing the motion-capture work as this human-shark hybrid who doesn’t say a lot of words yet eats a lot of people while also learning the value of friendship. John Cena is phenomenal as Christopher Smith/Peacemaker as this douchebag version of Captain America with a jingoist attitude who says a lot of funny and profane shit while also being someone who feels like something has to be done in which he causes a lot of conflict with those he’s with including DuBois and Colonel Flag.

Idris Elba is sensational as Robert DuBois/Bloodsport as a mercenary with unique nanotech that allows him to create weapons as he’s a great marksman but also someone who is reluctant to lead since he doesn’t consider himself a man with redeeming qualities where Elba brings a lot of nuances to the character. Finally, there’s Margot Robbie in a tremendous performance as the famed criminal Harley Quinn who helps out Colonel Flag only to be captured where she deals with surviving an ambush and being a crush for one of the dictators where Robbie brings a lot of energy and wit to the character who is crazy but also someone who cares about her friends and the world in general.

The Suicide Squad is a spectacular film from James Gunn. Featuring a great ensemble cast, dazzling visuals, its exploration on a gang of misfits trying to save the world, a fun music soundtrack, and its refusal to take itself seriously. It is a film that isn’t afraid to be profane nor is it willing to play nice in favor of just being a violent film with lots of cartoonish elements that allows itself to be ridiculous and fun. In the end, The Suicide Squad is a tremendous film from James Gunn.

James Gunn Films: (Slither) – (Super (2010 film)) – (Movie 43-Beezel) – Guardians of the Galaxy - Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 - The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special - Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3

DC Extended Universe: Man of Steel - Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice - Suicide Squad - Wonder Woman - Justice League - Aquaman - Shazam! - Birds of Prey (and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn) - Wonder Woman 1984 - Zack Snyder's Justice League - (Black Adam) – (Shazam! Fury of the Gods) – (The Flash) - (Blue Beetle) - (Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom)

© thevoid99 2022


SJHoneywell said...

I enjoyed this quite a bit. Gunn is a talented guy, and makes films that are fun to watch. He is exactly what the DCU needed--someone who doesn't take everything so seriously. This is probably the closest they'll get to the Marvel stuff...and it's not a coincidence that the easiest comparison is with Gunn's stuff in the MCU--the Guardians of the Galaxy movies.

thevoid99 said...

@SJHoneywell-James Gunn seems to have an idea of how to tell a story and make it about characters that people can relate to in the fact that we're all flawed and maybe mischievous in some ways. I really enjoyed this film as it made no bones in what it is and what it wants to be. He is truly a filmmaker with a unique visual style but also has themes in all of his films that he enjoys exploring which makes me excited for whatever he'll do next. Yet, it is very unlikely he'll work with Warner Discovery with the way things are going over there. Marvel shouldn't cow-tow to these internet trolls and these politically-based factions. Gunn is just awesome and a hilarious dude who knows what the people want.

Part of me hopes that one day, he does a project with Taika Waititi as I feel like they both share similar thematic tropes and music tastes.

ruth said...

I like this one much more than the first one, though there are some truly ludicrous scenes I don't think I want to watch again. That giant starfish really grosses me out too. But I do love Idris Elba in anything and Sly is hilarious as the Shark!

thevoid99 said...

@ruth-I'd rather forget about the first one as that was just shit. This film however is exactly what I want and then some. I love the fact that it's not afraid to be disgusting but also not afraid to be ridiculously stupid in some bits but that's what I love about it. James Gunn gets it and plus. How can you not fall in love with a man-eating shark with the voice of Sly?