THE SUICIDE SQUAD - FILM REVIEW
The Suicide Squad enters the pantheon of outstanding DC adaptations, joining Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight trilogy and Todd Phillips’s Joker, once again proving that a director with wider control over his superhero film project will more likely deliver a memorable film. While James Gunn’s film about a team of anti-heroes and villains doing good might not exactly be the most original work in the genre, it manages to stand on its own ground, to entertain, to even tackle some complex subjects, and that suffices to make it not only one of the best features so far released this year, but the single best productions inspired by Detective Comics (DC) evre since the so-called DC Universe has begun in 2013 with Man of Steel.
It is intuitive to compare this film with James Gunn’s Marvel film from 2014, The Guardians of the Galaxy, which similarly rehabilitated the fame of a less known team of (anti-)heroes in the eyes of the wider public, but inevitably the 2021 film would stand victorious. Guardians sins of a too cliché plot, an over-presence of PG-13 humour (which persists in most MCU endeavours), and more importantly, conforms to a set of visual and stylistic conventions that is signature of the products that are released by Marvel and that leaves little room to innovative creativity.
Although Warner Bros has been notorious lately for similarly imposing a certain corporate view on its cinematic universe, with less success than Marvel, Gunn’s creative freedom shows from the very first frame of the film - a rotative pan-out from the reflection seen in a yellow puddle to a character sitting in a small prison court - unprecedented in Gunn’s Marvel films. Another evident innovation is the non-linear storyline that continuously moves back and forward from the very first minutes all the way to the final climax of the film. The unity of action or, in other words, the fact that almost the entire action of the film takes place in the same location, in the course of one single mission, makes up for the third peculiar element of this film, which however might be felt as rather underwheming by viewers used to narratives that unfold thorugh a long journey in various places (as Guardians did, for example). Lastly, a stylistic element that must be mentioned is the series of visual fantasy elements that appear on the screen. An example is the presence of text that is displayed through in-location elements, such as antennas placed in a specific order, text written on sand, etc.
As anticipated by numerous news, there is a high mortality of characters throughout the film, and even some of the more central ones fall under the ax of the plot.
The graphic violence, which makes The Suicide Squad further different from other DC films and perhaps in this sence more comparable to Deadpool somehow never reaches an excess that would make it overly gratuitous, even when it is employed for comedic effects.
Comedy, even if sometimes exageratedly slapstick and leaning towards black humour, is certainly one of the pros in this film, but is not the sole field in which the film shines. The Suicide Squad is a surprisingly emotional journey, with some memorable character arcs that do not distract from the story.
Perhaps the most compelling feature of James Gunn's film is its unexpected timing: a blockbuster that satyrises american interventionism is perhaps the best cinematic tool to introduce audiences to an issue that could not be more actual, given the very recent news. In this sense, The Suicide Squad reached levels of maturity in confronting the responsibilities and consequences of post-cold war american military intervention abroad that have only one precedent in the superhero genre, Iron Man, which however maintains an overly patriotic subtone that is completely absent from Gunn’s film. In a tense scene, a certain character becomes the spokesman of the attitude of blind allegiance even in in the face of evidence.
In the end, The Suicide Squad is a truly uplifting film. It makes the viewer feel a wide range of emotions, experience a compelling journey, and manages to be a great piece of cinema at the same time.