The Suicide Squad review: Probably the closest we'll ever get to a Tarantino comic book movie
The sorta-sequel, sorta-reboot arrives in Irish cinemas on Friday.
If you've seen the two Guardians of the Galaxy movies, then you've probably already made some comparisons between writer/director James Gunn's comic book movies and the work of Tarantino.
From the perfectly-timed, decades-old needle-drops to taking older actors (Kurt Russell, Sylvester Stallone, Glenn Close) and putting them in unusual genre situations, there is obviously some shared DNA there.
Without Marvel's restrictions of a family-friendly rating, Gunn goes all out with the violence and swearing for The Suicide Squad, the sorta-sequel, sorta-reboot of the 2016 commercial hit/critical dud. DC have allowed him to go hell for leather here, and it truly does feel like the guy behind the grimy, low-budget likes of Super and Slither has suddenly been given hundreds of millions of dollars to play with.
And it works. Mostly. Kind of.
There is a shared understanding that anyone shouting about having BDE (Big Dick Energy) inherently doesn't have BDE. To possess BDE, is to know you've got BDE without having to inform anyone, or have anyone tell you you've got it. If you've got BDE, you've just got it, and that's it.
Tarantino's movies have BDE. No further questions.
The Suicide Squad is the movie equivalent of a guy at a party drunkenly telling everyone he has BDE.
Fair play to Gunn for hitting the ground running here though, taking the messiness of trying to continue AND re-do the Suicide Squad's story, with some returning characters and actors joined by a host of some very interesting new arrivals. The plot once again finds Amanda Waller (Viola Davis, having a ball being pure evil) assigning an unenviable task to a group of supervillains; storm an island that is basically Cuba in everything but name, and destroy a top secret science base.
Simple enough, except for the massive military presence on the island, and the collection of supervillains aren't used to teamwork. World class assassin Bloodsport (Idris Elba) is resentfully forced into a leadership position, while getting side-eyed by the psychotically patriotic Peacemaker (John Cena) and goodie two-shoes Rick Flag (Joel Kinnaman).
Then there is the collection of wild cards, with standouts being King Shark (Sylvester Stallone), which is what might happen if Groot got a taste for human blood; Polka-Dot Man (David Dastmalchian), a softly spoken test subject with some serious Oedipus issues; Ratcatcher 2 (Daniela Melchior), who can control rodents with a magic wand; and Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie), once again stealing every scene she's in.
Gunn gives them all some great scenes to chew on, while the action is mostly well-choreographed and visceral, and it culminates in a protracted climax, involving a character that non-comic book fans may think jumps the King shark, but perfectly fits within the very specific tonal universe that Gunn has curated here.
It all mostly works kind of, if only Gunn didn't need to constantly remind us how cool everyone is all of the time. Barely a scene goes by without someone delivering a pithy one-liner, or literally dozing off because they're so bored by their exploding surroundings, or just being so aggressively irreverent that it begins to influence our reactions. If nobody on screen seems to be taking any of this seriously, then why should we?
That attitude is all well and good when the characters are standing around and shooting the shit, but it backfires when we're to start caring whether any of them make it out alive.
Thankfully, thanks to the great performances, you will care.
The Suicide Squad arrives in Irish cinemas on Friday, 30 July.
All clips via Warner Bros.