Fantasia International Film Festival Review – The Suicide Squad

When writer/director James Gunn was let go by Disney from his work on third Guardians of the Galaxy film, Warner Bros and DC films were quick to snap him up and offer him the keys to the kingdom. While he was pitched a Superman movie, fortunately for us Gunn picked The Suicide Squad as his next project. What awaits DC and comic book fans alike is a bloody, violent and all out gorgeous film that not only resets the Suicide Squad, but a lot of the DCEU characters and the future of the universe. 

If you haven’t seen the first film, don’t worry, you won’t be too lost here. The story centres around the island of Corto Maltese where a secret research facility is in need to be taken out when a political coo puts the USA at risk. This time around we have a new band of misfits with Task Force X being led by Colonel Rick Flag with Bloodsport (Idris Elba) subbed in as the leader along with newcomers King Shark (Sylvester Stallone) Polka Dot Man (David Dastmalchian) Ratcatcher 2 (Daniela Melchior) and Peacemaker (John Cena) along for the ride are some familiar faces Captain Boomerang (Jai Courtney) and Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie) all being led by Amanda Waller (Viola Davis) who is still as sadistic and violent as ever, actually even more so in this iteration of the character. Along their way to destroy the ex-nazi facility, they encounter the creepy Thinker (David Capaldi) who is hiding something bigger, something extra-terrestrial. The team must band together to help stop this alien threat and the people on the ground trying to protect it. 

It is no secret that I am a huge DC comics fan, I was very nervous about how this film would turn out. After seeing the incredible trailers and the star studded cast, surely it couldn’t go wrong right? Well fortunately it went beyond my expectations. The film not only delivers a solid superhero movie for DC comics, but a fantastic film in its own right not connected to any other film in the universe. You don’t need to see the previous Ayer iteration to be on the same page and at no point would you feel out of place if you were left wondering “Am I meant to know about this?” 

Visually the film is stunning with many splashes of blood and limbs flying around the screen embracing the films MA rating. The use of a dirty grain filter effect on the island also helps the film to feel like it is heralding back to 80’s action movies alongside the obvious influence of films like The Dirty Dozen. In addition the CGI on King Shark and the adorable Sebastian the rat is second to none, showing clearly no expense was spared in bringing these characters to life which helps them blend in with the rest of the human cast and make them easy to relate to. There are hoarders of rats that look like a plague attacking the city and enemies that are meticulously detailed. If you get the chance, see this at an IMAX theatre, it was filmed and really designed for this experience to get the full effect. 

Acting wise there is so much to talk about. Idris Elba could sit on a toilet and read the weather and I would praise him and it is no different here. The cool and effervescent actor shines in this role as the cranky and belligerent Bloodsport is a joy to watch. His interactions with daughter Storm Reid are of particular note, the chemistry between the two is incredibly hilarious to watch and shines on the screen. Robbie is doing her third stint as Harley Quinn and delivers a much more self assured performance this time around. She is confident in who she is without Mr. J and ready to get back out into the world. Special mention has to go to Melchior who is the heart of this film, delivering a raw and vulnerable performance that brought me to tears. Dastmalchian plays a mummy’s boy who has experienced severe trauma and his story arc of redemption and becoming a superhero is a joy to watch. Special note must be given to John Cena who plays the very thorough Peacemaker. Cena has had small stints in previous movies and this one really gives him the opportunity to shine. He is confident, funny and knows how to land a joke and his chemistry with Elba helps to carry the film. 

 There is so much that could have gone wrong, the tone and pacing of the film is spot on for all of these characters and what they need to work together. All of the elements of the location shooting mix with the CGI, the soundtrack and actors to deliver one of the best superhero movies made in the DC universe to date. There is definitely a noticeable lull in the middle of the film, it does give you a little bit of time to breathe before the huge action packed final act. Gunn has proved he is not only a masterful director and writer, but can work across multiple properties putting the DC vs Marvel debate finally to rest. Now if we can get that Harley Quinn and Rocket & Groot movie going, that would be a worthy follow up. 

The Suicide Squad is in cinemas now thanks to Fantastia International Film Festival

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