A verdict like this was honestly a long time coming so I’m gonna save myself the trouble and just say it like it is: “Suicide Squad 2” is a MAJOR improvement over its predecessor in almost every which way…..and that is saying virtually nothing because the first film really didn’t set the bar that high to begin with, thanks to ANOTHER WB studio interference. Of course, the biased half of my brain would call this the better one of the two cause it didn’t actively piss me off but I digress.
Once more, acting is superb. Margot Robbie continues to make Harley Quinn her own, Viola Davis is electrifying as always, Joel Kinnaman continues to follow up his surprisingly impressive acting chops from the first one, Idris Elba steals the show every scene he steps in, John Cena was admittedly better used here than F9, Daniela Melchior as Ratcatcher was definitely a runner-up for favorite character here, need I say more?
Everyone else, equally as fun and enjoyable.
And the characters within themselves…..ok, let me just say this: there will definitely be some characters here that you will not root for. Me personally, having some characters you can't root for is meant to be part of the point here. They’re a team of villains who are forced to go on these missions, they didn’t choose to do this and a part of why they're chosen is because how much they don't care about what they're told to do and that, for me, means more when some of the squad go against these things.
But root against them or otherwise, Gunn does a good job in making you care about them: these characters have better contrasts between them and the synergy with one another helps them work off each other better.
Let’s just say that this, right here, is the full encapsulation of a director simply having fun with his craft. No cheeky backstabbing, no pulling the rug underneath him, no WB getting in the way and fucking the film over; James was let off that mechanical leash and was allowed free range to do what he wanted to do…..at least I hope. Small and focused in execution but very grandiose and pizazz-like in presentation, the scope and the scale for etched unbridled madness made his direction all the more animated but suitable for the project. And to think that the actual presence of carte Blanche here (maybe) may dissipate this dark cumulonimbus cloud that hovers over the other DCEU projects, if only for a little while.
I don’t mean to compare this to GOTG but James Gunn does know sometimes how to combine comedy, heart and drama together without dangling the carrot over your head and making it feel forced or tacky…..the latter of which we weren’t able to escape from here in some instances. So believe me, it’s actually euphoric watching a Suicide Squad movie elevated by a consistent tone this time as unbalanced as it may feel. While most of the comedy works in correspondence to the characters interactions, there a few gags that got to me and others that didn’t.
But just as a heads up, some moments are going to be in very poor taste if you’re not a fan of dark humor. Then again, what film that uses dark humor as a crutch isn’t immune to moments like those? Hey, it does live up to its R-rating, especially when it comes to reinforcing the ludicrous nature of the film itself and irreverence it carries, although it will bring back harrowing memories to some of what got James Gunn fired from Marvel to begin with.
Compared to the jarring editing from its predecessor, it’s slick, vibrant and creative the second-go around which not only helps to infuse the film with those qualities, but they make the transitions between the differing story-lines occur smoothly. Special effects actually hold up well this time, the saturated lighting actual helps fit the atmosphere of the movie and isn’t dogshit to look at, action sequences are fast paced and nicely choreographed with a lot of energy and despite a few cliched moments, there was some genuine suspense and unpredictability to what was happening and I even gasped a couple of times.
Unfortunately, not all of the comedic overtones landed well with, again, those few spotty dark humorous moments of poor taste which speaks to how tonally confused the movie gets in certain spots, pacing really starts to drag out halfway through, not even this movie is safe from cursed plot armor for certain characters and if I’m gonna be honest, then trying to reinforce how being against the US government is evil and those who oppose the US foreign policy are malicious people with ulterior motives was shoehorned in for the sake of it and at the end of the day, it didn’t really gel together for me.
Ballsy, violent and full of heart but painted with an indelible mostly-unpredictable zest that benefited but was also hindered from whatever amount of creative control James Gunn got here, it’s your typical big dumb action movie that’s as entertaining as it can be irreverent. Even with all of its issues, this feels like the ideal Suicide Squad movie we should’ve gotten the first time around.
Turns out I just had to wait an extra five years to get to here.