August 4, 2021

CINEMA | James Gunn Kills Off 'The Suicide Squad' x Fantasia 2021

"We've got a freaking kaiju up in this sh*t!"
Joel Kinnaman Alice Braga Daniela Melchior Idris Elba John Cena James Gunn | The Suicide Squad
Fantasia International Film Festival
Guardians of the Galaxy helmer James Gunn writes and directs his DC Comics reset version and sort of follow-up to 2016's article-less Suicide Squad. The Suicide Squad (emphasis on the "the" in the title) is Gunn absolutely unleashed in his aim at making a much friendlier but shockingly ultraviolent comic book satire of American foreign intervention and general superhero fare.

Newcomers Idris Elba (his Bloodsport essentially replaces Will Smith's Deadshot) and John Cena (Peacemaker) join a returning Margot Robbie as the one Harley Quinn for a fun ensemble cast where many of the familiar faces do not stick around very long. Gunn splits up his team of expendables and thrillingly drops you right into the middle of the action. This is Robbie's best showcase of her trademark character as she gets so much to do (and so much agency) both solo and as one of the central members of new team.

Co-starring Joel Kinnaman and Viola Davis from the first film as the government overseers of Task Force X, Gunn's film does a seamless job of combining elements from both the already existing DC Universe and the first film in addition to his own trademark sensibilities with tons of style and verve. Squad's opening act is just wondrously dazzling in its dizzying splendor featuring tons of cohesive action and energy. How the story pits Bloodsport and Peacemaker as perfect foils for each other propels so much character-based comededic moments.

David Dastmalchian Daniela Melchior John Cena Idris Elba James Gunn | The Suicide Squad
Warner Bros. Pictures / DC Films
Portuguese actress Daniela Melchior as Ratcatcher 2 (Taika Waititi appears as her father, the first Ratcatcher) brings a surprising amount of earnestness and emotional stakes to the contained men on a mission movie set on the fictional South American island nation of Corto Maltese after a political coup. Her Ant-Man-like ability to talk to and summon rats everywhere for very specific tasks kind of ties the whole self-assured film nicely together.

It's hard to conceive just how much self-aware fun and genuine heart there is in The Suicide Squad. Despite the ultraviolence, amusingly lowbrow humour, and some weird touches throughout, Gunn injects enough heartfelt moments to make the wild parts of superhero action gore digestible. How he sort of remakes and reworks Squad as an existing property and new thing on its own works wonders on screen. This is the freshest, most confidentially-made comic book adaption/sequel set in an already existing universe or continuity in a while.

The Suicide Squad screened as part the 2021 Fantasia International Film Festival (Montreal) and is available to stream on various digital platforms and through video on demand in Canada.

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