The Suicide Squad is BOLD and FUNNY, BUT… (Movie Review)

I had no idea what The Suicide Squad was going into this.  I mean I know what the Suicide Squad is, but I’m talking about whether this was a sequel, prequel, stand-alone, reboot or something completely else.  I’ve been totally living in a vacuum the last year as it relates to this film (still very much riding the high from last year’s Birds of Prey).  Needless to say I come to understand it as it’s officially being billed as the tenth film in the DC Extended Universe (DCEU), but very much a stand-alone film/sequel to 2016’s Suicide Squad.  Although there’s several returning characters like Boomerang, Captain Rick Flag and Harley Quinn this is very much a stand-alone “sequel” that from now on we will just dub it as “James Gunn’s Suicide Squad.”  And that’s that!

I’ll save you all the boring history lessons about the production of this all (I was initially just really thanking the stars that David Ayer didn’t return for this one) and just skip to all the pertinent details.  The Suicide Squad was written and directed by James Gunn and stars an ensemble cast including Margot Robbie, Idris Elba, John Cena, Joel Kinnaman, Sylvester Stallone, Viola Davis, Jai Courtney, Peter Capaldi and so many more!  Many thanks to Disney for being big babies and firing Gunn temporarily from Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 to give him this chance to flex his creative muscles in breathing some “different” life into Task Force X on the big screen (or little if you’re planning watching this on HBO Max). 

The premise of the 2016 movie was quite boring so it’s with welcome jubilation that this one actually takes us some place other than just a city landscape.  In this new incarnation various imprisoned convicts of Belle Reve Penitentiary, known as members of Task Force X here, are sent to the South American island of Corto Maltese.  They go there in hopes of destroying a place called Jotunheim, a prison and laboratory that holds political prisoners and conducts some nasty secret experiments.  That’s where our anti-heroes come into conflict with a giant, telepathic alien starfish.  And get this.  The starfish’s name is called Starro The Conquerer.  No I’m not making any of this up I swear!  There’s a lot more of course, but I don’t want to ruin any of the twists and fun here.  Yes, I used the word F-U-N!  That’s in stark contrast from what we got in 2016, huh?  Nah I still had fun with that one.

That’s about where the appeal of The Suicide Squad stops for me.  Yes there is a lot of comedy and humor.  I won’t deny that, but like most superhero films we suffer from a lackluster villain here.  And just wait until you meet Starro here.  That sealed the deal for me in the category of ridiculousness.  I was pretty much checked out by then.  It pains me to say that too because this film features one of my all time favorite DC characters, Harley Quinn portrayed by Margot Robbie.  She wasn’t even enough to save this one for me!  I just could not connect with her character at all here like I was able to with David Ayer’s film in 2016 or the vastly superior 2020 Birds of Prey.  It was cool to see the homage towards Harley’s traditional red and black color palette, but the buck stopped there for me.  She didn’t do much more for me.

The real stars of this one for me were Elba and Cena.  Think of the chemistry and adversity between The Rock and Jason Statham in the Fast & Furious films.  That’s exactly the playful banter you have here in The Suicide Squad between these two leading men.  Next up had to be David Dastmalchian as the Polka-Dot Man and the animated rat of Ratcatcher 2.  Don’t worry they do explain who and what happened to Ratcatcher 1.  Now beyond that giant starfish (I don’t have any kanji love for it) I mentioned up above was a character I was kind of excited for…King Shark (voiced by Stallone).  Shoot me now!  I could not get into him at all.  He was pretty much straight out of the Harley Quinn cartoon series in terms of looks, but try as I might I was just annoyed by the CG appearance (just dumb).  Yes Gunn may have put the fun back in the Squad here, but it’s just too ridiculous for my tastes.  I blame my old man syndrome.  I think I am just getting too old for these kind of movies.  I need something more serious in my life…like Birds of Prey!  Now that movie had a real, thrilling, eccentric villain.  I digress.

I am super appreciative of the R-rating and the bold decisions Gunn made and executed here.  You truly felt like at times you were watching an old school 24 television show where no one is guaranteed to be safe.  I dig that!  And the gore and violence was top notch.  Unfortunately the story for me just got bogged down in the ridiculousness of it all (although I did appreciate the nods to Cabin in the Woods with the betting).  Not even my favorite Harley Quinn could salvage it for me.  Although I do want to say thanks to Gunn for the many cinematic Harley moments he bestows upon us here, most notably when the flowers and birds are exploding all around her in a shoot’em up scene.  That was probably my most favorite part of this film.  Give me a Gotham Sirens movie please!  Now wherever you decide to watch this (I do encourage you to try the IMAX) remember there’s one mid credit scene and one after.  Enjoy!  I hope your mileage varies vastly differently than mine here!  I’m thinking it will.

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