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The Suicide Squad (A Movie Review)

Updated: Jul 18, 2023


Starring Margot Robbie, Idris Elba, John Cena, Joel Kinnaman, Sylvester Stallone, Viola Davis, Jai Courtney, Peter Capaldi, David Dastmalchian, Daniela Melchior, Michael Rooker, Alice Braga, Pete Davidson, Nathan Fillion, Sean Gunn, Flula Borg, Mayling Ng, Steve Agee, Juan Diego Botto, Storm Reid, Lloyd Kauffman, Pom Klementieff and Taika Waititi.

Screenplay by James Gunn.

Directed by James Gunn.

Distributed by Warner Bros. 132 minutes. Rated R.

The title for The Suicide Squad appears to be throwing shade on its widely derided 2016 predecessor Suicide Squad just by adding the word “The” to the title as the only concession that it is the second film in the series. Like, that one may have been some random Suicide Squad, but the new film is The Suicide Squad, and that’s what matters.

The Suicide Squad is in a weird place in the DC Cinematic World. It’s not really a sequel to Suicide Squad, and yet it kind of is. It’s not a reboot, but it works like that too. It has a new creator – James Gunn of Guardians of the Galaxy taking over for David Ayer. It’s rated R and is significantly gorier that the already ultra-violent original. It has some of the same characters (and actors), and also some different ones. And thankfully, it has no Jared Leto as the Joker.

It’s definitely a better than the first film, but honestly, it’s not all that great on its own.

It should fit into new writer director James Gunn’s wheelhouse. Lesser-known comic book characters having wild adventures was the basis of his Guardians films, after all, but Gunn goes back to his earlier days in filmmaking as The Suicide Squad takes on the jokey ultra-violent b-movie feel of Gunn’s first produced screenplay, Tromeo and Juliet. (Gunn makes the tribute even more blatant by giving his Troma Pictures mentor Lloyd Kauffman a cameo in the new film.)

So, basically, The Suicide Squad is cheesy, gory, a little goofy, funny (always a plus for a DCEU film) and makes little or no sense. Several major characters die – most of them violently – and the evil threat that may end the world is a giant starfish.

It’s hard to say that The Suicide Squad is a good film, but for what it is, it’s not bad, either.

Like the first Suicide Squad movie (and the Guardians of the Galaxy films as well), the main problem is that the anti-heroes here are generally not all that interesting or likable. Again like the first film, the only truly fascinating character is Margot Robbie’s Harley Quinn, who takes on a slightly more wide-eyed perspective which is surprisingly fetching.

Other characters have their moments – John Cena makes Peacemaker a funny cipher, and Idris Elba could play Bloodsport in his sleep – but King Shark (played by Steve Agee, voiced by Sylvester Stallone) is a nice surprise.

There are two massive problems with The Suicide Squad, though. The first is that the story is pretty uninvolving. We are thrown in on a top-secret mission with the Squad, but it makes little sense and leaves little room for plot coherence or character development. (And, no, I don’t think it’s asking too much for a film called The Suicide Squad to have a little of both.)

The other problem has been mentioned before – The Suicide Squad is shockingly violent and gory, to the point that it becomes uncomfortable. I know that the fact that this is the first DC film to get a R rating opened up the floodgates for more blood and even a little bit of sex – the Deadpool movies had the same issue in the outlying area of the Marvel universe – but eventually the blood and guts lose their ability to shock. The audience almost becomes anesthetized to the extreme violence.

It is probably asking too much for a film which is populated with criminals to have a certain amount of self-restraint and tact but had The Suicide Squad held back some it would have been even better. There are enough good parts of the film to see what could have become of this film in the greater DCEU. As it is, though, this one too feels like a bit of an outlier.

Jay S. Jacobs

Copyright ©2021 All rights reserved. Posted: August 7, 2021.


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