‘The Suicide Squad’ Review

To expand upon my quick thoughts in the video, The Suicide Squad is an antihero team-up film based on the DC Comics group of the same name. It is a standalone sequel to Suicide Squad and the tenth film in the DC Extended Universe (DCEU). The film is written and directed by James Gunn and stars an ensemble cast including returning stars Margot Robbie, Joel Kinnaman, Jai Courtney, and Viola Davis with newcomers Idris Elba, John Cena, Sylvester Stallone, David Dastmalchian, Daniela Melchoir, Peter Capaldi, Michael Rooker, Alice Braga, and Pete Davidson. The story follows a new iteration of Task Force X as they are sent on a mission to the South American island nation of Corto Maltese to destroy Jötunheim, a Nazi-era laboratory that holds a secretive experiment known as “Project Starfish.”

To start, this film is visually stunning and beautiful to watch. The gore and mutilation are very bloody. Every time there is a kill you get to see flesh, tendons, blood, and bones. Very different than what is allowed in a PG-13 film. There are various bright colors used in the costumes and set pieces. The film feels like a comic book come to life. This is helped by the words that appear on the screen to determine a setting, plan, or event. This can get a little overwhelming at times but it doesn’t deter her from how enjoyable the film is. While some of the characters do not get as much about their backstories explained, I do feel the camaraderie between the team a little more this time around. These characters spend more than a few hours together and they get to know more about each other. What saves this movie is that it is one clear plan. This is James Gunn’s vision from start to finish and I thoroughly enjoyed that the studio let him do that. The soundtrack and score are enjoyable to listen to accompanying the scenes very well. There’s a very touching moment where we get to find out a little bit more of Ratcatcher 2’s interaction with her father and why he liked to use rats. Gunn is a master at adding moments like these to help the audience empathize more with the characters he puts on screen.

Task Force X has two teams of criminals this time around. One team is led by Colonel Rick Flag and consists of Harley Quinn, Captain Boomerang, Savant, Mongal, Weasel, Blackguard, T.D.K., and Javelin while the second team comprises Bloodsport, Peacemaker, King Shark, Polka-Dot Man, and Ratcatcher 2. The first team is arguably there to get slaughtered by the enemy to start the film off on a joke showing that nobody is safe so that the second team can get into the island unnoticed. While not all the first team is killed many of them are there for that reason only. It’s a shame we don’t even get to see them use their abilities. I feel that this was wasted potential just for a joke. While I am very happy for many members of Task Force X to be killed off it would have been better if we got to see them killed off during the mission like some of the other characters who make it further in the film.

Of all the new characters presented in this film Bloodsport (Idris Elba) and Peacemaker (John Cena) are the best. They carry this film with their comedic timing and competitive nature. Bloodsport is shown to be a career criminal who was trained by his father and had a terrible childhood. Bloodsport is obviously meant to have been Deadshot. He is very good with guns and he wears a very similar suit. He also has a daughter who he does not get to spend a lot of time with, but that is where the similarities end. Bloodsport is a far more terrible father than Deadshot was. Deadshot is shown to have cared for his daughter and tried to do what was best for her. Even after getting locked up his deal with Waller was for him to get custody of his daughter and for her to be guaranteed entry into an Ivy League university. Bloodsport on the other hand wants nothing to do with his daughter. He doesn’t even like the fact that she was born. He only cares that she stays away from him and makes a better life for herself. He does however show some concern over her well-being as he agrees to join Waller’s “Suicide Squad” when she is threatened. The similarities of these characters are most likely because Will Smith couldn’t reprise his role as Deadshot due to scheduling conflicts. The studio originally cast Idris Elba to replace him, but after the cast got together, they ultimately decided with James Gunn that it would be better for them to have a new character in the film to allow for Will Smith’s return for potential future films. That being said, the character was barely rewritten.

Peacemaker is said to have had the exact same background as Deadshot except he’s not really presented as a career criminal but merely a soldier with a skewed view of keeping the peace. He’s as if Rick Flag didn’t listen to his conscience even though he hears it. As Peacemaker says in the movie “I value peace with all my heart. I don’t care how many men women and children need to die for me to get it.” He seems like the perfect soldier for a top-secret government mission. One who doesn’t need a bomb in his head as he would likely obey orders to keep the peace. It was very entertaining watching him try to one-up Bloodsport to see who could make the coolest kill. This scene in particular has a very shocking ending. I don’t feel like we got enough of Peacemaker’s backstory to justify him being in Belle Reve or being on the team, but this should be resolved with the upcoming Peacemaker show on HBO Max. It’ll be a prequel/sequel that will delve more into his character and I’m very interested to see how he came to be.

Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie) is once again very good. This is the third time that we have seen her character and each time, the director brings out a different aspect of her character. James Gunn makes it a priority to show exactly how crazy Harley is as well as her physical strength and combat skills. There’s a point where she showcases her lower body strength when taking out an enemy soldier and it is one of the best scenes in the movie. Very similar to Birds of Prey, she sees the world differently. It is filled with color and cartoons like a children’s tv show. It’s evident with Harley not being a metahuman the studio wanted her in this movie to help sell it and that James Gunn was not allowed to kill her as she is one of the few well-known characters to appear. At this point, I feel like bringing her back for a third Suicide Squad film wouldn’t make sense. I would love to see her character return to the DCEU but hopefully in another Gotham-centric film like the upcoming Batgirl.

While The Suicide Squad does present itself as a sequel to Suicide Squad and is set within the DCEU, there are not a lot of ties to other films in the universe. I believe that this is a good thing when you want to tell a nice standalone story but at the same time, it hinders building this universe out more. Now that the audience has had a taste of a connected universe, a bit more correlation would have been enjoyed. James Gunn himself said during an interview that he’s not even sure which Superman Bloodsport shot with a kryptonite bullet. When thinking about it, that knowledge makes this film just a little bit less lovable. It would have been fine to just say he shot Henry Cavill’s Superman with a bullet sometime after the events of Zack Snyder’s Justice League. (Because that’s what needs to be canon.)

There are some characters who I feel were wasted, to a degree. I feel that Mongal should not have died as easily as she did because of her alien heritage. Her physiology would have allowed her to survive the accident that caused her death. I feel that Polka-Dot Man was used very well throughout most of the film. My issue with him is that his powers are very lackluster. All he does is throw incendiary polka-dots. In the comics, Polka-Dot Man’s polka-dots take on a variety of different forms such as black holes, saws, projectiles, flash bombs, etc. King Shark on the other hand has been shown in a range of different ways in comics and television from extremely intelligent to normal intelligence to dumb. James Gunn went with a simple version of King Shark. This I don’t have a major issue with I just feel that he was not super useful to the team. For a creature of his size, his strength is not used a lot and he is only shown eating a couple of people. There’s also inconsistency with his powers as he is injured by these little piranha-jellyfish creatures which bite him and draw lots of blood yet bullets from automatic rifles can’t penetrate his skin. Maybe that’s a nitpick but something that should have been noticed.

As with the first film, the villain of this film is lackluster. At the end of the film, we get to Starro escape Jötunheim and try to take over Corto Maltese. Since we don’t really get too much backstory with Starro or even get to hear him speak to the characters more we don’t understand why he wishes to do this. We understand that he is intelligent, was captured by astronauts, and experimented on by the Thinker under the supervision of the US government. Once he escapes, however, he just tries to take over the island. He does not have any full conversation with the team about his overarching plan which would’ve given a lot more depth to his character. Also, in terms of villainy, Amanda Waller (Viola Davis) is fantastic for most of this film. We get to hear her curse and threaten someone’s child. Again though, in the end, I feel like there is a betrayal of her character where she is knocked unconscious by some of her aids. Now this happening to her is fine, but to believe everybody that betrayed Waller is not immediately killed or given any real consequences sours the film.

The Suicide Squad unquestionably feels as if it was an R-rated Marvel movie leaving James Gunn as the logical choice for directing Deadpool 3. If there were more connections to the DCEU, showing that Warner Bros. actually has some sort of plan going, this film would have been perfect. I give The Suicide Squad a Decent 8/10. While I would enjoy watching a third Suicide Squad film, I would not like James Gunn to direct it. I feel that he does his best writing and directing on movies when they are fresh and standalone When he returns for sequels there is usually a drop in quality. I am very eager for him to return to the DCEU directing another series.

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