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The Suicide Squad: A Review of James Gunn’s Breaking Bad

The Suicide Squad is, in all but name, a sequel to David Ayer's critically-acclaimed Suicide Squad from 2016. This villainous extravaganza, less of a sequel and more of a remake, is the D.C. Extended Universe's (DCEU) most recent, goriest, and downright strange release.

The new film is energized by the writer-director James Gunn's shamelessly gritty attitude, which feels like a bracing antithesis to the sincerity and false gravitas so pervasive in superhero pictures. Margot Robbie and Idris Elba star, blending humor and edginess in a blockbuster packed with visual wonders and brilliant set-pieces.

The Suicide Squad stars Margot Robbie (reprising her role once more as Harley Quinn), Idris Elba (Bloodsport), Joel Kinnaman (returning cast member as Colonel Rick Flag), John Cena and his underpants (Peacemaker), Daniela Melchior (Ratcatcher 2), Viola Davis (returning cast member as Amanda Walker) Michael Rooker (Savant), Sean Gunn (Weasel/Calendar Man), David Dastmalchian (Polka Dot Man), Sylvester Stallone (Voice of King Shark), Alice Braga (Sol Soria), Tinashe Kajese (Flo Crawley), Steve Agee (John Economos, On-Set King Shark), Nathan Fillion (T.D.K.), Jai Courtney (Captain Boomerang) and Julio Cesar Ruiz (Milton) to name a few.

THE GIST: Amanda Waller, an intelligence officer, forms two Task Force X teams, informally known as the Suicide Squad, made up of Belle Reve penitentiary inmates who agree to carry out missions for Waller in exchange for shorter terms.

Warning: The following may contain spoilers from the movie.

THE PLOT: The setup is fundamental, and it adheres to the old Suicide Squad premise of enlisting bad guys to do seemingly good work in exchange for a little less time in jail. This time, hard-nosed Task Force X leader Amanda Waller (the exquisite Viola Davis) assembles a team of veteran and new Squad members. Traveling to a fictional South American country and destroying a laboratory with secrets that could upset the global balance of power. Mainstays like Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie) and Rick Flag (Joel Kinnaman) join the team, as well as newcomers like Bloodsport (Idris Elba), Peacemaker, a deranged Captain America-like character (John Cena), Ratcatcher (Daniela Melchior), the sensitive but weird, and the constantly depressed Polka Dot Man (David Dastmalchian). They will either save the planet or die trying.

Though these characters are clearly among the critical roles in the film, Gunn goes to great lengths to fill out his cast with a mix of big and minor names. He lets you know straight away that he means business with a carnage-filled opening sequence that instills in the audience a "no one is safe" mindset. Other action films of this type (particularly the first "Suicide Squad" picture) might kill off one character pretty early to create the perception of peril. Still, Gunn shatters any sense of assurance right from the start, and that is a fundamental component to the film's success.

Gunn then constructs one of the most unpredictable landscapes in modern action movie history, bolstered by all kinds of demented action set pieces, yet never veering from a plot framework that still manages to deliver on what fans anticipate from this type of endeavor.

The movie's pacing is a little odd, especially in the opening scene; it moves way too quickly, presenting information and introducing individuals so promptly that it's challenging to stay up for a few minutes. Following that, it becomes more consistent as the film proceeds, leveling out well enough to follow along.

EDITING (by Fred Raskin Christian Wagner): It works, especially in making things understandable, something the last film was notorious for failing to do. Several exciting and attractive approaches are used in the movie, particularly when transitioning between segments, scenes, and sequences. It adds a unique element that distinguishes the film from previous superhero films of the DCEU.

MUSICAL SCORING and SOUND DESIGN (by John Murphy): Speaking of Gunn's embellishments, the soundtrack is just fantastic. It still lessens the previous film's misuse of pop tunes, although it remains omnipresent throughout the film. The distinction in this film is that they serve a better conceptual purpose that suits the film's tone, style, and on-screen antics. This film also has a score that sounds like a collection of guitar riffs. It serves the purpose of the film, but it is sometimes indistinguishable from the music.

The entire sound design is practical, with gunshots and battle scenes delivering a punch to the face. Elements such as the significant threat are stunning in how they chose to make it sound, which is terrific in a large theater.

CINEMATOGRAPHY (by Henry Braham): Braham and his camera crew created unique gyrostabilized mounts to allow for indeed stabilized hand-held movement on The Suicide Squad. Also, there is no unusual lighting in terms of lights, but several scenes and sequences have unique camera movements. One example is a walk-up fight in the rain, a one-shot in a bus with the outside action. There is also a fight scene centering on Harley Quinn, which is both artistically and stylistically the best scene in the film.

Overall, The Suicide Squad has what it takes to satisfy comic book movie fans seeking an R-rated good time, from massive action movie sequences to pieces of crazy comedy. To be sure, there are moments in this film that will make you cringe while also making you double over with laughter, but what makes it the kind of movie buffs will love coming back to is the sense of emotional range weaved throughout.

RATING: 7.5/10

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