The Suicide Squad

Director: James Gunn
Writer: James Gunn
Full Cast and Crew List:
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IMDB’s Movie Summary: Supervillains Harley Quinn, Bloodsport, Peacemaker and a collection of nutty cons at Belle Reve prison join the super-secret, super-shady Task Force X as they are dropped off at the remote, enemy-infused island of Corto Maltese.

My Thoughts: So the other day, I sat down and watched The Suicide Squad, because I was curious what James Gunn had done with the characters. For those who don’t know, he’s the person who directed the Guardians of the Galaxy films, and I quite enjoyed those, so I went into this movie with my curiosity peaked, but with middling expectations. This is a Warner Brothers D.C. Extended Universe movie after all, and they have a….mixed track record with their comic-book movies, to say the least. So what did I think? Well, that’s what this review is all about. So without further ado, let’s jump right into it.

What I think worked: So the biggest thing I immediately noticed about The Suicide Squad is that it has a very distinct tone and directorial style. It very much feels like a much darker version of Guardians of the Galaxy, and I think Gunn pulls this off very well. It has a very twisted, yet distinct sense of humour, and the comedy makes for a very entertaining watch. It’s not often laugh out loud funny, but I never really got the impression that it was trying to be. It’s not really something like Deadpool, which is constantly trying to make you laugh by throwing a constant stream of jokes at you throughout the movie. Instead, the comedy is used to establish a very carefully balanced tone that allows for the film to pull off the over-the-top, comic-book-y style that it goes for. I personally think this works very well, although I should mention that the other thing that makes this work so well is the absolutely fantastic cast.
Idris Elba, in particular, does an absolutely amazing job as Bloodsport, but John Cena and Margot Robbie are both very entertaining in their respective roles. Not that it’s really surprising, at this point, that Margot Robbie is good as Harley Quinn, she’s been good for that role since she was cast in it. With that being said, it’s really hard to pick favorites, because everyone does a really good job.
However, what I really think makes The Suicide Squad work is that it tells a story that is weird, over-the-top, and meshes with its tone perfectly. It’s not an especially complicated or original story, but it has very out there elements that keep it engaging, and it’s just fun to watch. That’s the main thing that’s good about the movie, honestly. It’s just incredibly entertaining to watch. There’s also a fairly high body count, and several main characters do die, which is a rather effective way to keep the stakes fairly high throughout the runtime.
Another thing that I was rather impressed by is the movie’s character work. In a lot of superhero movies—and especially in the DCEU—I find that the character work can be a bit…lacking, to say the least. So I was pleasantly surprised when Bloodsport and Ratcatcher were both given fairly compelling arcs. I mean, they’re nothing to write home about or anything, but they were both emotionally resonant, and worked well in the context of the movie. When you have a film like The Suicide Squad that’s super over the top and goofy a lot of the time, having a couple solid character arcs in there can really do a lot to help the audience connect with it, so props to Gunn and the actors for pulling that off.
Lastly, I should mention that this movie greatly benefits from its R rating. There are times in which I think being a bit more tasteful with the graphic violence and shit can actually make a movie better, but I think Gunn uses the rating very effectively and creates a movie that, like Deadpool, just wouldn’t be the same without the obscene visual gags and the ultra-violent style. So to recap, The Suicide Squad has a great cast and tone that blend together very well with a simple story that allows for some fairly effective character work to take place. Alright, let’s talk about the dumb shit now.

What didn’t work for me: This movie’s villains are boring and get no characterization at all. They’re generic spanish fascists who are vaguely evil and want to do vaguely evil stuff. I genuinely thought we’d moved past this by now, because the last few superhero movies I’d seen had some pretty solid antagonists, but no, apparently we are still stuck in the age of shitty, forgettable comic-book villains. But even then, it’s possible for a villain to be boring as a character, and still be interesting because of the performance given by the actor playing them. Look at the Marvel Cinematic Universe for some examples of that. The Grandmaster isn’t really all that interesting, but he’s played by Jeff Goldblum and he’s fun to watch. The Ironmonger is as generic as you get, but Jeff Bridges does a great job making him memorable. Same goes for Hugo Weaving as the Red Skull, Kurt Russel as Ego, and the list goes on. Unfortunately, the actors who play the antagonists in The Suicide Squad are also boring as fuck. The only antagonist who’s at all interesting is killed off pretty quick, and even then, I feel like his intrigue stemmed from the jokes he was a part of—especially the ones involving Harley Quinn—rather than any actual character intrigue. Beyond that, the movie’s probably a bit too long for me. There’s probably about ten minutes worth of content that could be cut throughout the runtime, and it would be better if the pacing was tightened up just a bit.

Final Thoughts: The Suicide Squad is a fun movie with a great cast, a fantastic tone, and simple yet effective story that services some very solid character arcs. Unfortunately, it’s bogged down by some rather bland and forgettable villains, as well as its pacing, which could definitely have been better. However, I still had a lot of fun watching it, and it’s probably one of the more unique and stylized superhero films I’ve seen in a while.
Now, a quick note about my scoring system before I continue. My scores shouldn’t really be compared to each other, because I look for different things in different types of movies. Like, for example, I require different things for a film like In the Heights to receive an 8.5/10 than I do for….pretty much any comic-book movie, because In the Heights is a musical drama that takes itself far more seriously. A comic-book movie getting an 8.5/10 doesn’t mean I think it’s as good as In the Heights, it means that it’s as good at being a comic-book movie as In the Heights is at being a musical drama, if that makes sense.
So with that out of the way, I’m going to give The Suicide Squad a solid 8/10. If you have HBOMax and you’re interested in having a good time, I’d recommend checking it out. You’ll probably have a fun time with it.

Written on 08/10/2021

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