Let’s try plan B.
It’s pretty clear by now that the DC Extended Universe (DCEU) is essentially toast. Or, it’s a giant mess of barely connected movies that nobody has bothered to plan out, but really, it’s both. And that is how we got a sequel to Suicide Squad that is actually a remake, but, no just kidding, it’s actually a reboot. See what I mean? Just know that adding the word “the” to the title took six people working twelve hours a day for two weeks.
Perhaps the funniest question I got when friends asked me about The Suicide Squad was is it better than the first Suicide Squad? There are two ways to answer that question. One is, does a bear shit in the woods? The other, and the one I went with is, if I say yes, it doesn’t really tell you if it was any good; the first one was atrocious. Then, they nod and we start the conversation over with a better question. What did I think of The Suicide Squad?
(Mild SPOILERS ahead, or B-Spoilers if you will.)
The best way to describe The Suicide Squad is it is basically the movie that would have happened had Deadpool’s X-Force (from Deadpool 2) survived their skydive and had a full movie. Another way is do you remember Mystery Men? Yet a third way is that it is the most expensive B-movie ever made. What all three of those have in common is that the movie is a violent-gore fest that doesn’t take itself seriously and is finally in on its own joke.
For starters, The Suicide Squad is rated-R. Like Deadpool, this is the only way this kind of movie works. The protagonists are a bunch of violent criminals asked to go on a mission with an extremely high chance of death. Of course they are going to curse and violently kill their opponents. The first Suicide Squad was PG-13, which isn’t one of the top five reasons that movie sucked, but did help it suck more. The R-rating also allowed for a much wider range of jokes and allowed certain actors to really spread their wings. Did you ever wonder what it would look like if Idris Elba yelled at a teenage girl “fuck you” and that same girl yelled “fuck you” back at him through the clear plexiglass of a prison phone/visitor room? And, that girl is playing his daughter? Yeah, I laughed my ass off during that scene, mostly because it was Idris Elba.
Then, there is John Cena. Like Dwayne Johnson, Cena is really coming into his own as a comedic action star. Cena plays a character called Peacemaker, who “will kill as many people as it takes for peace.” Sound like any country you know? And you thought this movie wouldn’t have any political commentary. Anyway, Cena does a fantastic job delivering a character who the audience is simultaneously disgusted and entertained by. If he’s not standing in the middle of a jungle in tighty-whities, he’s noting that a starfish is a slang term for a butthole and wondering if that is relevant to their mission. And, naturally, he also delivers spectacularly in the fight/action scenes.
(Side note: Margot Robbie and Idris Elba were also their typical, exceptional selves. Incidentally, this made it hard not to notice that Joel Kinnaman is not good and Viola Davis has no idea what to do with her character due to how poorly her Amanda Waller is written.)
It was also great to see this movie poke its predecessor right in the eyes by immediately doing what the first movie should have – kill a bunch of C-level villains. Yeah, that means you Boomerang. The Suicide Squad starts off by introducing us to a planeload of villains that would fit right in with all of the B-villains listed off at the beginning of The Lego Batman Movie. Boomerang, Weasel, TDK, Mongal, Blackguard, Javelin, and Savant. Yes, those are really all their names and yes, they are the diversion for the real team when the movie starts. This scene perfectly captures the essence of the film with a bunch of grisly killings accompanied by hilarious jokes making light of those killings. You will laugh and cringe and breathe out a sigh of relief that this isn’t another dead-serious DC movie that is only trying to satisfy itself.
All of this wouldn’t have been possible without James Gunn, the director who came to prominence by delivering a ridiculously entertaining Guardians of the Galaxy. With The Suicide Squad, Gunn was able to let everything breathe. Actors, language, jokes, blood, action, and more blood. Lots of blood. Buckets and buckets of blood. Between all of the bloody deaths and exploding body parts, Gunn made up for the entire MCU’s bloodless body count.
Combined with a gigantic alien starfish destroying a city, Gunn made a B-movie with A-movie money. And it was glorious. That’s not to say that the movie isn’t without some pretty glaring plot holes and head-scratching creative ideas (like when a bunch of flowers start showing up during a Harley Quinn action sequence despite there being no setup for said flowers), but, like Guardians of the Galaxy, the film is so over-the-top enjoyable that you can easily forgive those choices. Despite the film doing nothing to bring any kind of coherence to a greater DCEU (and it wasn’t trying to), it is easily the best DCEU to date. While that doesn’t say much compared to the rest of the DCEU, it finally is saying something.
Rating: Do not ask for any money back. Yeah, I’m surprised too.