An anarchic, completely adult-oriented splatter and violence festival that, for two hours, shits on the conventions of mainstream blockbuster cinema – with all due respect: Until now, this seemed impossible with major studio involvement. But James Gunn could with his interpretation of THE SUICIDE SQUAD usher in a trend reversal. We reveal more about this in our review.
OT: The Suicide Squad (USA 2021)
Welcome to Hell – also known as Belle Reve, the prison with the highest mortality rate in the United States. The worst supervillains are imprisoned here and would do anything to get out – even join the top secret, shadowy special unit Task Force X. Soon a motley crew of criminals embark on a deadly mission, including Bloodsport (Idris Elba), Peacemaker (John Cena), Captain Boomerang (Jai Courtney), Ratcatcher II (Daniela Melchior), Savant (Michael Rooker), King Shark ( Sylvester Stallone), the Polka-Dot Man (David Dastmalchian) – and of course everyone’s favorite psychopath Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie). Armed to the teeth (literally), the gang invades the remote island of Corto Maltese, which is teeming with enemies. On their way through the jungle populated by militant opponents and guerrillas, they hardly leave any stone unturned. Only Colonel Rick Flag (Joel Kinnaman) is there as the voice of reason… and Amanda Waller’s (Viola Davis) government spies follow every step the suicide squad takes. As always, one wrong move means certain death (whether from an opponent, a teammate or Waller himself). If you’re smart, you wouldn’t bet any money on this team – not on a single member.
Hardly any major film production these days can get by without some kind of production problem. And that’s no wonder. Film studios are pouring more and more money into their projects, so the pressure to recoup them is increasing. Filmmakers with their own style, who have to abandon it for mainstream purposes or scale it down as much as possible, can tell a thing or two about it. And so it happens that a director like Edgar is taken away from “Ant-Man”. The infamous “creative differences” were to blame. In the case of “The Suicide Squad” by director James Gunn, who was part of the Marvel family until shortly before the project (he directed “Guardians of the Galaxy 1 and 2”), the consequence of his cinematic recall is particularly bitter; The Disney company stumbled upon some years-old tweets of particularly nasty humor that Gunn posted at a time when he was still primarily known for his extremely cynical and brutal material, such as works by the production company Troma (“Tromeo & Juliet”) or for the taboo superhero billing “Super – Shut up, Crime!”). The result: Gunn fell out of favor with the public – at least for a short time -, was withdrawn from the production of “Guardians of the Galaxy 3” and was quickly recruited by Warner Bros. Nothing less than one, namely sone To stage a variant of “Suicide Squad”. This enabled Gunn not only to realize himself without any studio restrictions, but also, according to his own statements, to process his grief over the Marvel termination. The result of these two emotional and creative exceptional states is more than noticeable in the end result.
The Suicide Squad: Your first mission as a reluctant team.
Streaming giants such as Netflix are often associated with gradually diminishing the fascination for the medium of cinema – after all, the subscription model allows you to watch as many films as possible for a certain monthly price, while a cinema ticket costs just one A visit often costs three times as much. But at least the companies give the directors of their prestigious in-house productions as much freedom as possible. This is how films like Martin Scorsese’s “The Irishman” but also Michael Bay’s “6 Underground” can come about in the first place. If you didn’t know better, you wouldn’t be able to avoid thinking that James Gunn’s “The Suicide Squad” was just such a free pass on Netflix. Because just what the Missouri-born filmmaker shoots in the first half hour is as far removed from the blockbuster mainstream as one can only imagine in 2021. This doesn’t even just mean the violence (the fact that a DC film received an R rating in the USA should make you sit up and take notice; after all, such an important superhero film clientele is automatically left out), which we’ll go into in detail later become. No, the key word is: consequence. In the first few minutes of his film, James Gunn dares to do something that many film studios don’t dare to do simply because they don’t want to deprive their potentially sequel-worthy works of the possibility of a sequel. Now we would like to predict that “The Suicide Squad” will also be continued if it is successful – and the constellation of characters and the material also indicate that. And yet: With the first moments of his film, Gunn suggests that in the next two hours everything with everyone figure can happen. And without anticipating the film’s crucial events: it will often keep this promise.
“If you didn’t know better, you’d easily mistake James Gunn’s ‘The Suicide Squad’ for a free pass on Netflix. Because just what the filmmaker shoots in the first half hour is as far from the blockbuster mainstream as you can imagine.”
Just looking at the character composition and their individual (superhero/villain) abilities places “The Suicide Squad” in “What the Fuck?” spheres from the start. Of course, Marvel is already used to talking trees and gun-wielding raccoons, but a shark that walks on two legs with a constant urge to eat the people around it, a madman with a mother complex who has to vomit up neon-colored dots at night if he doesn’t have them the day before to finish off other people, or “The Weasel”, a kind of mixture of run-down street dog, poor man’s werewolf and smacking, well, weasel (?), complete the composition of some of the most dangerous comic book villains from the DC Universe. These include Captain Boomerang, Colonel Rick Flag, who never falls victim to artificial sympathy, and the constant scene-stealer Harley Quinn, whose crazy, yet charismatic embodiment is Margot Robbie (“I, Tonya”) Compared to the first “Suicide Squad” film and her solo adventure “Birds of Prey”, it once again adds a lot of eccentricity. She is also responsible for the visually and tonally particularly striking moments. For example, an aesthetically intoxicating escape from a captivity in which she had the upper hand, both physically and mentally, from the start. The action storm around them, which does not focus on them but instead on the interaction of the entire Suicide Squad, is also convincing in terms of production. At the same time, James Gunn relies on such a level of violence and hysterical escalation in the first half hour mentioned above that the fact that he continues at this level until the finale is also counterproductive. In short: It doesn’t take long before the ultimate visual overkill hits you, which sometimes only lets you perceive what’s happening in a blur as it progresses.
The scenes with Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie) in particular stand out positively from “The Suicide Squad”.
In order not to lose track of the numerous audio-visual gimmicks – with the exception of the use of various canned pop and rock songs, which is once again quite overdominant and not always appropriate to the action – you have to consciously force yourself to do so, especially in the second half. That up to this point, in the best case scenario, we have long since accepted the reality in which we operate here (and that with the motto… “Brains out!” drives best anyway!), can help you with that. However, the problem is not that James Gunn sometimes spins completely freely. Because as much as it’s fun to just watch the director and writer imagine his ultimate supervillain fun, the classic “Higher, faster, further!” idea always dominates. Long before the end of the 132 minutes of film, the makers have covered the entire spectrum of crazy humor. A feeling of redundancy is inevitable. This makes it all the more obvious to stage the final chord of “The Suicide Squad” in a particularly detached way. It’s only logical that an oversized giant starfish suddenly becomes the Suicide Squad’s adversary! The choice of antagonist alone is what makes the finale of the film stand out from the often fairly uniform final battle of similar films. It would have been all the better if there had been cameraman Henry Baham (“Guardians of the Galaxy: Vol. 2”) allow for a little more clarity in the already busy action scenes. “The Suicide Squad” hasn’t turned out to be a storm of shakes and cuts, but from an aesthetic point of view there is still a lot of room for improvement for a possible sequel, so that even in the particularly hectic moments you can better see who is actually here (and with what means ) who is fighting against.
“It doesn’t take long before you experience the ultimate visual overkill, which sometimes only lets you perceive what’s happening in a blur as it progresses.”
James Gunn really makes the most of the studio’s free pass, especially in the particularly violent moments. For example, when King Shark tears people in half (or eats them) or, quite banally, the opponents are finally allowed to bleed properly when they are riddled with holes by a hail of bullets. Gunn takes great pleasure in bringing to light in “The Suicide Squad” what remains hidden in many other superhero films in favor of the broadest possible audience appeal – and as a result should actually be much more likely to accept the accusation of glorifying violence than this film here. The cynicism displayed by its characters, led by Viola Davis (“Fences”) as probably the most callous character the DC Universe has ever seen, underlines just how absurd and ridiculous all of this is. This doesn’t require any targeted meta-commentary towards the audience, just the realization at regular intervals of how stupid and stupid everything that occurs in this film is. And so the audience knows what they are getting – in its most blatant, colorful, off-the-wall and somehow best form.
Conclusion: Sugar shock meets epilepsy attack meets James Gunn, who causes his audience’s synapses to go crazy after just half an hour. “The Suicide Squad” is a triumph because until now it seemed almost impossible that a film like this could even be made with the help of a major studio. Even if you have to accept that the film just rushes past you after the first half because you can’t process this madness so quickly.
“The Suicide Squad” can be seen in USA cinemas from August 5, 2021.