It’s big, it’s bad, it is way over-the-top with plenty of gore, violence, bad language to boot. It stars Sylvester Stallone as one of the more outrageous characters in a film chock full of outrageous characters and the film is sitting at a solid #1 on HBO Max.
James Gunn’s The Suicide Squad (you can catch our spoiler-filled review here) promised to be head and shoulders above its first incarnation, the fan-base dividing 2016 David Ayer Suicide Squad, led by Will Smith and Margot Robbie. Gunn most definitely lived up to his word.
The film starts off strong, in pace and gore, and doesn’t let up. Sylvester Stallone definitely helps maintain the violence. Amanda Waller (Viola Davis) is back, offering those hardened criminals at Belle Reve a “Dirty Dozen” assignment. Complete the task given for a reduced sentence. Unbeknownst to either, Waller has put together two teams of baddies hoping to survive for a reduced sentence. Their job is to locate and destroy the secret Nazi-era laboratory called Jötunheim, which houses an even more secret experiment called “Project Starfish.”
One “squad” is led by Col. Rick Flag (a returning Joel Kinnaman). With him are Savant, Captain Boomerang (another returning star, Jai Courtney), Blackguard, T.D.K., Javelin, Mongal, Weasel, and last but not least, Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie). A Suicide Squad film without Robbie‘s Harley is like a pizza without pepperoni and mushroom, it’s just not possible. In what appears to be a set-up, Flag’s squad is ambushed, resulting in the many deaths of his team and the capture of Harley.
The other “squad” is led by Bloodsport (Idris Elba) who is joined by Peacemaker (John Cena), King Shark (voiced by Sylvester Stallone), Polka-Dot Man (David Dastmalchian), and Ratcatcher 2 (Daniela Melchior, who beat out 200 actors and had to do a chemistry test with live rats).
Apparently, the first squad was the distraction that allowed the second squad entry to the island unscathed.
Bloodsport and crew (including Sylvester Stallone’s King Shark) figure out that Flag has been taken hostage, so they first hunt him down before carrying out their mission. When they find him, after massacring the entire rebel camp (in gory fashion. Oops), they realize their faux pax but are still able to convince rebel leader Sol Soria (Alice Braga) to help them.
The squad then makes their way to the capital of Corto Maltese, where they track down the Thinker (Peter Capaldi), a metahuman who heads Project Starfish. Using him to gain entrance to Jötunheim, the squad rigs the secret facility with explosives. As Flag and Ratcatcher 2 find the laboratory, they realize that Project Starfish is actually Starro the Conqueror, an alien with the capability to control minds by smaller versions of itself. Starro can shoot starfish out of its body, where they attach to the face of its victim, giving it the power to control.
James Gunn doesn’t back away from the humor, excitement, gore, or even more death at the expense of some of our favorite bad guys. The list is long, sometimes sad, many times shocking, but they all have their place in Gunn’s world.
There are many highlights when it comes to The Suicide Squad, but one is beginning to stand out above the others. That being Sylvester Stallone’s King Shark. It was a voice role that Stallone was born to play but one that James Gunn had a hard time filling.
When Gunn took on the project of writing The Suicide Squad, his one and only vision for King Shark was Sylvester Stallone. The two have worked previously on Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2, so Gunn was familiar with and a huge fan of Stallone’s. But Gunn was reluctant to approach Stallone about the part.
“I actually had hired three different actors,” Gunn told Yahoo’s The Wrap. “I wrote the role for Sylvester Stallone. I was afraid… Sly’s my friend. … What if it didn’t work? He’s Sly! I would’ve just had to have a voice that didn’t work.”
Though Gunn says he eventually hired three different voice actors, the audition process was much more in-depth. “So, we had a huge audition process with tons of voice actors. We had one voice actor come in and do the whole movie. It didn’t work,” Gunn continues. “We had another voice actor come in and do the whole movie. He didn’t come to life. We had an actor — a really, really famous actor who was also a friend of mine — come in and do the voice. And that didn’t work!”
At his wit’s end, Gunn was unsure how to proceed. He said to his team he wasn’t sure what to do, but in his gut, he felt he needed to approach Sylvester Stallone. “I called up Sly. He said he would love to do it. He came in and right away, that character just sort of came to life,” Gunn concluded. It was a match made in heaven and each and every time King Shark is on the screen, you can see why Gunn wanted Stallone’s voice representing King Shark.
In stark contrast to Ayer’s film, Gunn’s The Suicide Squad is being touted as the savior of DC movies. While Wonder Woman and Shazam! both enjoyed fantastic critical reviews, The Suicide Squad is on par, if not a tick higher, when it comes to critic’s responses, as it sits with an impressive 91% favorable rating on Rotten Tomatoes.
As the film is being released simultaneously in the movie theaters and on the HBO Max streaming service, gauging box office take maybe a little wonky. The numbers aren’t where Gunn would like to see them, but again, his box office numbers are definitely skewed by audiences watching on HBO Max.
As for the living legend, Sylvester Stallone, the man is 75 years old and shows no signs of slowing down. While he passed on an opportunity to reprise his most popular role as Rocky Balboa in the upcoming Creed 3 film, Stallone is working on a superhero movie of his own.
In the upcoming film Samaritan, Sylvester Stallone plays Stanley Kominski, a long-lost superhero who was thought to be dead after losing an epic fight 20 years prior. The film’s release date has been changed a number of times and after dealing with a COVID-related shutdown, the film was set to hit theaters earlier this summer. That never happened and we are now being told that Sly’s superhero flick will not see the light of day until August 2022.
Sly also has Little America he is working on and there is a good chance that Stallone will reprise his role for the oft-announced-but-yet-to-start fourth go around as Barney Ross in The Expendables 4.
For now, do yourself a favor and hit your local cineplex, or dial-up HBO Max and enjoy Sylvester Stallone as King Shark in James Gunn’s The Suicide Squad.