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Movie Review: James Gunn's The Suicide Squad (2021) *No Spoilers*

The Suicide Squad One Sheet
I was initially excited to see James Gunn's The Suicide Squad right from the first trailer. However I ended up skipping seeing it in theatres based on the red band trailer because, while the blood and gore was cartoonish, I felt it was likely something my partner might not be into (or at least would want to see on a big screen). Plus I knew it was a self contained story so missing it would have little to no effect on other DCEU films that may be hanging on to their connectivity.

Unfortunately, in Australia, the film wasn't released on streaming simultaneously, and I wasn't prepared to rent it as a premium download. If I'm going to pay that kind of price I'd rather own a movie on physical media (I'm the one person who still buys movies on DVD).

With that preamble, my partner bought me the film for Christmas on DVD and we did watch it together. I'm fairly certain she enjoyed most of it but some of the graphic violence was a little too much, judging by the occasional cringing gasps I heard.

People have debated as to whether The Suicide Squad is a sequel to David Ayer's Suicide Squad or a reboot. I would say it's neither. It's definitely in the same timeline, because the returning characters from the first film clearly know each other and know the deal with Amanda Waller (Viola Davis). So it's set after that film, and likely after Birds of Prey too, since Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie) makes it clear she's not with the Joker anymore (which isn't a spoiler so much as an anecdote). However that's all the connection it has. It doesn't build on events from those films at all. This is a complete new story.

In terms of the plot, as you would expect, Amanda Waller puts together a completely new, bigger, and weirder, Suicide Squad (officially known as Task Force X), who are sent to the small island of Corto Maltese to stop a particularly deadly weapon from being used against the USA after the island goes under a forced regime change. Mayhem ensues.

The Suicide Squad has pretty much everything I want in a comic book movie (except I wouldn't  complain if the blood and graphic violence was toned down just a bit even though it's extremely cartoonish). It completely embraces the silliness of the more fantastical elements of comics and somehow manages to make them plausible in a real world environment.

The obvious example being Starro, a completely ridiculous character, given a great backstory, and the CGI animation is so well done it feels totally present and plausible that such a creature may actually exist.

Then there's characters like Polka-Dot Man (David Dastmalchian) that seemingly wouldn't translate to live action well at all but everything from his backstory to how his superpowers work just kind of makes sense (within the context of this film). If I'm really honest, if there were plans to do a Polka-Dot Man series or film, I'd be interested to see it even though everything I know about the character is what I saw in this movie.

I feel like the entire cast bought their A game to this film and made the most of however much screen time they had. Those that stood out most were generally the characters with the longer screen time, because you got to know them at least enough to care a little about their fate.

What's more impressive is how James Gunn balances the characters and story so that everyone seems to get their moment, and the characters you went in thinking you were going to care about are, very likely, not the only ones you'll be focused on by the end.

Even Amanda Waller's team back in the control center get their moment and story, which is pretty impressive given the huge bump in squad members, foes, and the fantastical, compared to the first Suicide Squad film. I don't think Amanda so much as addressed any of her team at all previously).

While the film was a tad too graphic violence for me, I was expecting that based on the trailers, so it didn't have any negative impact on my enjoyment. If you go in expecting some really dark, and sometimes low brow humor, knowing that this is a comic book come to life rather than any attempt at trying to ground anything in reality, you'll have a great time.

I'm not entirely sure how I feel about the film from one viewing but it's a real swing at making a comic book movie that mostly hits the mark. I mean it's got a literal 'land shark' in it that you don't even question its existence. You just accept it.

There's so much going on, and I think I would've liked to have spent a bit more time to watch some of the character relationships develop. However it's a fun, creative, movie for sure. 

Deserved to do a lot better at the box office. It's easily on the same level as other strong performing movies in the DCEU.

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