Five years after the DCEU introduced a movie adaptation of the comic series Suicide Squad with Jared Leto’s neon green and tatted-up Joker, the introduction of “Daddy’s Lil Monster” Margot Robbie’s Harley Quinn among the company of Task Force X, here comes The Suicide Squad. The sort-of remake, reboot, (kinda-sequel?), written and directed by James Gunn is finally coming to theaters and streaming next weekend and the first impressions have come in.
We know The Suicide Squad has combined characters we’ve seen before in David Ayer’s 2016 version like Margot Robbie’s third appearance as Harley Quinn, Joel Kinnaman’s Rick Flag, Viola Davis’ Amanda Waller and Jai Courtney’s Captain Boomerang with new additions including Idris Elba’s Bloodsport and John Cena’s Peacemaker, but does it work?
As usual, let’s start with the home team with Eric Eisenberg’s review for CinemaBlend. Eisenberg gave the movie a glowing review with a 4.5 out of 5 rating, calling the movie “almost like a trophy” that celebrates James Gunn’s greatest strengths and achievements as a filmmaker over 10 years. And in his words:
Where The Suicide Squad very much differs from Gunn’s Marvel movies is in the brand of action, as the filmmaker is allowed off the leash when it comes to R-rated content, and he is not in any way afraid to abuse that freedom to the most entertaining extent. Its great qualities don’t exclusively come from the over-the-top, gore-filled violence, however, as the writer/director also constructs a number of excellent set pieces that test the individual qualities of the characters and allow them to shine.
The Suicide Squad has a record-number of DC characters to juggle throughout its two hour and 12 minute runtime, but it sounds like its going over especially as the filmmaker employed the movie’s R-rating to the limit. IndieWire’s David Ehrlich also had positive things to say about the upcoming Warner Bros’ release:
The most fun and least depressing superhero movie in a very long time, Gunn’s deliriously ultra-violent The Suicide Squad wears the yoke of its genre with a lightness that allows it to slip loose of the usual restraints, if not quite shake them off altogether.
Over the years, comic book movies, especially in terms of the DCEU have gone for an ultra-dark color palette and storyline, but apparently that’s not the case for James Gunn’s vision for the genre. We’ve seen what he can do in Guardians of the Galaxy for Marvel, and apparently he continues to bring some light fun to the superhero movie with his move to DC. Though for USA Today’s Brian Truitt, his Marvel entry is the better of the two franchises he’s contributed to, he also had great things to say about The Suicide Squad:
Gunn doesn’t quite outdo the heights of his first Guardians of the Galaxy film here but definitely continues his knack for taking obscure comic-book characters and creating extraordinary misfits with issues. Plus there’s a lot of heart and emotion woven through all the unpredictable deaths and rampant four-letter words that really give this strange picture life.
Overall, The Suicide Squad has a major uphill battle being compared to both one of Marvel’s finest entries and the polarizing previous Suicide Squad that was never quite given a fair chance by the studio. Even so, it’s all high fives from critics so far as NME’s Nick Levine said this in their review:
The good news: The Suicide Squad is much more enjoyable than 2016’s muddled and frustrating Suicide Squad, which was just about saved by Margot Robbie’s raucous performance as Harley Quinn. Second, the even better news: this film is a bombastic, full-throttle romp that’s easy to follow whether you’re a DCEU stan or not.
According to Levine, even casual fans of the DCEU will be able to pick up on this movie and find some interest in its action and style. Overall, critics are really digging The Suicide Squad… a lot. Though we did find one cutting review from Yahoo’s Leah Greenblatt, who didn’t exactly hate it, but did have some complaints to share:
The script, accordingly, herks and jerks along with a sort of forced-festive glee, its mounting body count buffeted by goofball banter and pounding soundtrack cues. A good half of the jokes don't land, but unlike his predecessor's joyless slog, Gunn's version at least celebrates the nonsense.
We’ll leave it to you to decide whether you’ll check out The Suicide Squad when the movie hits theaters and HBO Max next Friday, August 6. And while you’re here and thinking about your next wander into this year’s latest movies, check out our 2021 movie release guide to plan your next movie-going affair.