In my review for David Ayer’s 2016 film Suicide Squad, I commented on how DC’s then-newest film was a blatant attempt to mirror Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy. And low and behold, 4 years later and the mother of all duds on their hands, DC have only gone and drafted Guardians of the Galaxy director James Gunn to helm The Suicide Squad, a wipe-the-slate-clean do-over that desperately wants you to forget the catastrophically shit first attempt thanks to the cunning use of the definitive article.
Not that outdoing the previous iteration was a particularly high bar to clear; everyone knew from the get-go that Gunn’s take on the ragtag bunch of anti-heroes doing the US government’s dirty work would be a massive improvement over Ayer’s effort. Let’s be honest: swearing off cinema altogether is a massive improvement over Ayer’s Suicide Squad. However, as much as the 2021 vintage is unquestionably more memorable, featuring better acting and a fully-embraced R-rating, that doesn’t make it good.
It does feature some pleasantly anarchic sequences, specifically a final showdown that pits a massive kaiju against Margot Robbie’s ever-fetishised Harley Quinn, a trigger-happy Idris Elba, a rat-controlling Daniela Melchior and a Groot stand-in shaped like a huge shark voiced by Sylvester Stallone. But as deliriously daft as that sounds, the end result isn’t as hilariously transgressive as it thinks it is. It’s a foul-mouthed child’s try-hard approximation of transgressive, a frequently obnoxious in-joke that’s ultimately nothing more than a modest improvement. Go squad!
The Suicide Squad / Directed by James Gunn (US, 2021), with Margot Robbie, Idris Elba, Daniela Melchior. Starts August 05.