Sunday, August 8, 2021

The Suicide Squad


A violent coup in the Latin American island nation of Corto Maltese paves the way for a military takeover. While the country has not been particularly antagonistic to the United States, the development becomes an issue of national interest given the fact that they are hosting an extra-terrestrial weapon being developed by one of their scientists. Amanda Waller (Viola Davis) is tasked to gather a group of convicted criminals with a specific set of skills to carry out a covert mission that couldn’t be traced back to the US and wouldn’t court much international attention. She inks a deal with a number of villains in exchange for reduced jail sentence, among them: sharpshooter mercenary Bloodsport (Idris Elba); ruthless killer Peacemaker (John Cena); Suicide Squad leader Rick Flag (Joel Kinnaman); shark-human hybrid Nanaue (Sylvester Stallone); virus-infected Polka-Dot Man (David Dastmalchian); rodent manipulator Ratcatcher 2 (Daniela Melchior); and cuckoo ex-psychiatrist Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie).

Irreverent and funny, The Suicide Squad is one hell of a ride that just delightfully spirals out of control. Even then, there is an air of boredom that just can’t be placed while watching this movie, or perhaps the plot just really runs thin. It almost borders on being absurd, what with a premise that can be summarized as a gigantic pink and blue star fish terrorizing a fictional Latin American banana republic. It is one of those no holds barred love it or hate it popcorn flicks that just puts you in a pleasant mood.

The Suicide Squad is a more enjoyable romp than David Ayer’s 2016 rendition which was rather problematic but had the benefit of being released when it was. In a rapidly rising ocean of superhero flicks back then, it made waves by being the antihero breath of fresh air. Taking advantage of such novelty, it eventually became one of the DCEU’s more bankable box office hits, even outpacing Justice League itself by almost a hundred million dollars in the North American Box Office. That was an impressive feat that 2021’s The Suicide Squad won’t be replicating in this pandemic era, unfortunately.

While the post-credits scene seems to be hinting at a possible sequel, WB would probably not greenlight yet another soft reboot considering the bad rep their shared universe has been having since its inception. Is this even considered a reboot? A remake? A sequel? A spinoff? It’s simply hard to tell. With some actors reprising their roles from the 2016 version but avoiding all references to it as much as they could, we don’t really know what James Gunn’s The Suicide Squad is to David Ayer’s Suicide Squad.

There is no denying that Harley Quinn has been Robbie’s biggest breakout role and don’t get me wrong, she is such a tantalizing presence onscreen. Nevertheless, the trajectory of this character’s journey in the silver screen as of late appears to be approaching Jennifer Lawrence’s Mystique in Fox’s X-Men franchise territory. On one hand, they are intriguing characters to watch, but at the same time their being shoehorned everywhere they possibly could just makes you wonder whether there is really a lack of other fresh comic book characters out there to develop.

Overall, it is still an enjoyable movie on a boring weekend. The talking shark is hilarious. The action scenes are gory. The dialogues and one-liners are an odd mix of witty and corny. Gunn also experiments a lot with his visuals like juxtaposing flowers instead of blood in one of Quinn’s killing sprees as well as making good use of set pieces within the frame to establish the current setting. The plot also goes non-linear several times for a more dramatic reveal of subplots. Storywise, it doesn't make much sense. Perhaps, it does not have to.

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