Remember in 2016 when fans were eagerly awaiting Suicide Squad because it finally looked like DC was going to get a good movie from the DC Extended Universe? It’s funny looking back at it now because of how reviled that movie has become. So it is kind of surprising for DC to take another chance with it. Then again, when you get someone with the frentic mind of James Gunn doing the project, it’s worth the gamble.
But does the gamble actually pay off? Well, it’s better than the first Suicide Squad film but that was a very low bar to clear in the first place. The bigger question is if it’s worth watching and the short answer would be a very heartfelt “yes” to that… but it’s not exactly the perfect comic book movie. It’s close but it’s not.
Before I go into more detail about my thoughts on James Gunn’s The Suicide Squad film, I’m just going to state that this is going to be a SPOILER FREE review. It’s been out for a while in theaters and HBO Max but, judging from the box office returns from over the weekend, there just might be some fans hesitating to watch it. So, just in case, this will be a SPOILER FREE review.
The Suicide Squad basically follows the same premise from the comics and the 2016 film. Amanda Waller drafts some supervillains into Task Force X to take on a special black ops mission. To ensure these baddies stay on mission, they’ve all been implanted with a bomb in their neck and Amanda Waller has the prerogative to detonate the explosive. However, if they do manage to survive the mission, these supervillains have ten years stricken from their sentence.
Let’s talk about the good things about The Suicide Squad. All the characters are great and they work because, one, the people portraying them all do an excellent job and, two, most of the members of the Suicide Squad have a personality, thanks to a really punchy script by James Gunn. The second point is pretty amazing because, a lot of the time, you really don’t have much time devoted to developing a character arc or a backstory. You still get a feel of what they are because of how they behave and how they play with each other. Sometimes, you only get a few short minutes to see them work together but all that time is used to let the viewer know what they’re all about. In fact, the only character who is given something akin to a story arc is Bloodsport but even that is pretty brief.
It certainly helps that every actor here bring their A-game. This might be a “silly comic book movie” but everyone seems to be giving their all here. Idris Elba makes Bloodsport a real stoic but damaged character. Margot Robbie is, once again, great as Harley Quinn. So much so I’ve gotten to her not having Arleen Sorkin’s accent! The biggest transformation comes from Rick Flag as he comes off as a very war weary veteran of going on frequent missions with Task Force X. He’s still very serious but he seems to have become rather tired of having to babysit these supervillains all the time. David Dastmalchian gives a really good performance as Polka-Dot Man. He comes off as very meek and introverted. I also have to mention how James Gunn reworked his powers from just a weird tech genius to someone who can toss out very destructive colorful dots at people! A lot of props also have to go to John Cena as Peacemaker. I can definitely see the former professional wrestler having a blast giving life to this hardass showoff who proclaims to love peace even at the cost of others’ lives.
However, the biggest and best performance has to come from Daniela Melchior as Ratcatcher 2. There’s a lot to like about her performance and, because of this, her character in the film. She manages to infuse a rather indifferent, naive but friendly personality into Ratcatcher 2, immediately coming off as very endearing and lovable. It certainly helps that she tries to see the good in people despite being one of the “bad guys”. I certainly hope to see a lot more of the actress in the future.
The action in The Suicide Squad is also very good because there’s just a lot of kinetic comic book action going on. The fights can be comedic and tragic at the same time and, somehow, Jamess Gunn manages to find that perfect balance without it coming off as too tragic or too mellowdramatc. Everything is also framed correctly so you can see all the blood and gore in all its glory. I heard some people might have a hard time watching The Suicide Squad as it can definitely get bloody. But if you watched things like Kill Bill, you should be fine. Also, if you liked Kill Bill for its action scenes, you’ll definitely love The Suicide Squad!
The film is also beautifully shot with some really impressive camera angles deployed. There are a ton of moving and panning shots that really feel dynamic and makes things seem even more grand. The set design and costumes are really good as well. In fact, it’s shocking how well some of the more comic book and cartoony outfits, like Peacemaker’s bright red and white outfits, come off as working perfectly fine with some of the more realistic aspects of the movie. The comic book aspect and the realism should clash but, because of the overall tone that you’re not supposed to take things too seriously and they costumes do look fantastic, it just works.
Unfortunately, as I said, The Suicide Squad isn’t perfect. A major gripe I have with it are the villains for the first good chunk of the movie. Task Force X basically invades an island country so all we get are very generic dictators and ordinary soldiers from the outset. They’re very one-dimensional and don’t really offer much besides being one-dimensional antagonists. They’re basically cannon fodder for the team and, while that’s well and good, I can’t help but imagine what the film would be like if it took place in a more well-known location like Bialya, which is ruled by the more enigmatic Queen Bee, was used instead.
Another couple of minor nitpicks I have are with the soundtrack and the pieces of text that pop into view. The soundtrack consists of a lot of licensed music and they work fine but some of the song choices just felt out of place. The licensed songs also make the original compositions feel out of place at times. While the flashy costumes and the realistic world mix well together, the song choices don’t. The Suicide also punctuates a lot of the scene changes with something akin to chapter titles. This does make things feel more like a comic book movie and adds a little more whimsy to the proceedings. But I can’t help but think they could’ve worked them in a more clever way. As is, they came of as rather intrusive.
But problems are peanuts compared to The Suicide Squad’s biggest flaw: the disjointed story. The general flow of the film’s 132-minute runtime is generally good but, at the same time, there are some story segments that are like side quest so far removed from the main story. These story segments are generally fun and I honestly didn’t mind watching them. These moments also act as a way for us to get more character development. However, they ultimately take up a lot of time and kind of make the film slog a little during the middle portion. They could’ve been written out and nothing would be missed storywise.
With all of that in mind, The Suicide Squad is still a blast to watch. The action is good and the heroes are all overflowing with personality. It can get a little gory so the more squeamish of you might want to turn away but, otherwise, I say give this a watch.
Have you seen The Suicide Squad? What did you think of it? Let me know in the comments section below!