The Suicide Squad (2021)
In the past I’ve harked about mislaid bricks in franchise films, and how poorly laid bricks lead to compounding failure, or the Leaning Tower of Pisa. This movie is the latter. The Suicide Squad is a ridiculous, bloody, meta, hilarious, excellent movie that absolutely deserves a watch. The writing is intelligent, the story is captivating, the visuals are inspired, and the characters are unforgettable.
Gunn took some liberties when he crafted this movie by inserting many, many non-normal visuals. Flowers and animated birdies, title cards made out of the environment, flamboyantly colored starfish, intentionally irreverent costumes. The film looks fantastic. There’s equal parts grunge and dirt and blood, but there’s also splashes of bold, refreshing color.
The Suicide Squad is also hilarious from start to finish. It begins by visually telling you, “You know what this is gonna be about, so let’s just get started,” and powers through idiotic exposition in the first sixty seconds, then throws us headfirst into banter and explosions and extremely bloody deaths. There are no holds barred in this movie. It is a balls out, heart stabbing, titey-whitey wearing unapologetic stream of pure entertainment.
Incredibly, along with being ridiculous, the movie made me feel- actually feel when someone died. The opening sequence begins with murder of some fairly big name stars, and does not stop killing people as the movie goes along. It’s shocking and captivating because it does not hesitate to do so. In contrast to any other superhero or comic book movies, the people who die, stay dead. It’s distracting any time someone in other superhero movies dies only because you’re thinking to yourself, “Ok, so when does he or she get their own spinoff show or movie where they’ve miraculously survived?”
In The Suicide Squad, there is no ambiguity that the dude is very, very dead. So when characters die in the movie, you’re actually going to care. You’re actually going to be sad, and you’re honestly going to be worried if someone gets yeeted off a roof while fighting carnivorous jellyfish. That being said, there are some instances of sheer plot armor, like Harley running through gunfire and not even getting grazed, but that’s ok. Margot Robbie is killing it as Harley Quinn and nobody- and I mean nobody wants her to stop being Harley for a very long time.
I’ve mentioned that James Gunn took some brave liberties by throwing in some off-beat crap, but in no way is it distracting or distracting. In fact, I think it lends itself to the tone of the film. The movie is made to be fun. It’s supposed to be guns for people who like guns, humor for people who like humor, heroes for people who like heroes, and antiheroes for people who like antiheroes. It’s not very serious, there isn’t (really) some big message or plot gravitas that the film needs to carry. The Squad really is just crappy, selfish, dangerous people. This gives the film a lot of flexibility to let their characters do some really bad stuff, but still get an easy yet fulfilling redemption arc.
Discount Will Smith really does grow into fatherhood, in his own way. Polkadot Man (who’s just as ridiculous as he sounds) gets to be a hero. Rated-R Maui gets to make his friends. The Rat Lady remembers her dad.
This is why Superman sucks. He’s already good. He’s already invincible. You couldn’t write a convincing, meaningful, impactful growth arc for the guy. Bloodsport, on the other hand, gets to murder the crap out of people and gets away with it because “Daddy powers, activate!”
It’s not a complicated movie, though it does get a little convoluted by the end. There’s a mix of ‘Latin American independence fighters going against generic evil general dictators’, but then there’s also a fuckin kaiju up in this shit. Hard to reconcile stakes at that point, y’know? For what it’s worth, the balance was precarious and I can’t imagine a better way to sort out those pieces at the end of the movie.
“What, we some kind of suicide squad?”
Unlike the above idiotic line from the movie from the previous movie, the dialogue in this movie is excellent. The banter is believable, hilarious and completely meta. When you throw in a human sized CGI weasel into a live action movie, it’s going to be silly. We are not at that point where we will see a big humanoid creature and believe that it would normally be there. So rather than forcing us to stretch our imagination, the CGI weasel is a complete fucking visual gag. Every scene and sound with the thing is a gag. It’s hilarious.
Then Gunn goes and flexes by making another CGI character be completely fucking relatable. It’s insane how this basically mute cartoon shark actually feels realistic because he is realistic. This dichotomy, I believe, demonstrates Gunn’s absolute genius. He can make us care for everyone on screen, even if they aren’t the actual main characters or even people, but still giving them purpose, definition, ambition and individualism. He’s shown us that this man is a master of ensemble comedy action films with a heartfelt message.
This is what makes the movie so good. This is also why the other ensemble team up movie the DCU failed. Nobody gave a fuck about any of the side characters, but they also didn’t give a fuck about Superman, Batman, Flash or anyone else. Nobody had any character, ambition or defining traits. Justice League was just exposition leading to the big battle at the end. The Suicide Squad had a big battle out of consequence.
In any case, the movie is fairly immature at times, and it isn’t necessarily complicated or nuanced. It’s a movie for adults, not children, so expect it to treat you as such. 7/10. Seriously, they did Will Smith so dirty with this movie you gotta wonder why. Also, mini celebration, this is my 1200th movie watched! Yay me!
I saw The Suicide Squad in theaters, but it is also available to stream on HBO Max.