QUICKIE REVIEW: “The Suicide Squad” (2021)

James Gunn’s The Suicide Squad delivers exactly what it promises: an enjoyably over-the-top, bloody, and funny adventure. It’s exactly what you’d expect to get when you give a former Troma director a bunch of money and free reign to make whatever he wants. And, in that regard, the film is very successful. Though, if you’re not a fan of films that push the boundaries of what’s tasteful as far as possible, this might not be for you. Like, I’m dead serious. A lot of this movie pushes the boundaries on what’s funny and what’s in good taste. Intentionally, I might add. It feels like Gunn is purposely aiming for that borderline offensive territory. Mostly, however, I think the movie works pretty well. But there are definitely some super questionable moments. Particularly with a fair amount of the film’s humor and some of the plot/character beats.

The story is pretty simplistic, but it works for what it’s going for. The Suicide Squad is sent to Corto Maltese on a mission to destroy an old Nazi-era prison and all evidence of an experimental program called “Project Starfish.” And, naturally, shenanigans ensue. The plot’s basically just an excuse to get the team in as many action sequences as possible. And, again, that’s totally what this movie was going for and it works pretty well. Everything moves at a brisk pace, so there’s never a dull moment. It’s not hard to predict what’s going on—especially when it comes to the big “Project Starfish” reveal towards the end of the movie. Like, of course, that’s where this all was going to end up. But you don’t care much because the movie is just so much fun that you’re happy to be along for the ride. At its heart, The Suicide Squad is a big, dumb action movie. And it accomplishes that very well.

Everybody’s gonna be talking about The Suicide Squad’s action sequences. And there are a lot of them—and they’re all pretty damn bloody. However much gore you were expecting going into this, take that number and multiply it by at least five. I mean, there are genuinely some moments that are kind of gross to witness. And these moments are present from as early as the first ten minutes, where an extended action sequence sees a number of characters quite literally blown to smithereens. However, as a fan of super gory, over-the-top action sequences, The Suicide Squad hit the spot perfectly. There are the requisite very bloody gunshot sequences and decapitations and whatnot. But there’s also some creative stuff here, particularly in the film’s climax. And it’s worth pointing out that the entirety of said climax takes place in broad daylight. Meaning the audience can see everything that’s happening. And boy, is it fun. I mean, it’s as if The Suicide Squad wandered into a Godzilla movie. Absolutely delightful.

I’m not sure how fans of the comics are gonna feel about a lot of these characters. Gunn certainly made some choices here, but I don’t know exactly how comics-accurate they are. To be honest, I don’t care a whole lot since what Gunn did do is pretty enjoyable as it is. The cast of characters is enormous—honestly, there’s a fair argument to be made that there are simply too many characters here. Even when the movie prunes a bunch of them, as Gunn promised would be the case. But the vast majority of these characters are pretty well-rounded, even if they’re a bit stereotypical. Some of them, like Peter Capaldi’s The Thinker, I could’ve stood spending a lot more time with. Capaldi basically steals the few scenes he’s in with his trademark The Thick of It sarcasm, and it’s amazing. While others, like John Cena’s Peacemaker, I could’ve stood spending a lot less time with. (I get what Gunn and Cena were aiming for with Peacemaker, but I just found him too insufferable to tolerate.)

My personal favorites are Margot Robbie’s Harley Quinn, Daniela Melchior’s Ratcatcher 2, and Sylvester Stallone’s King Shark. Daniela Melchior is great as Ratcatcher 2. Her powers are cool and her relationship with Idris Elba’s Bloodsport is quite sweet. This Harley Quinn doesn’t feel much like the Harley in Birds of Prey or 2016’s Suicide Squad. But the Harley in Birds of Prey also didn’t feel much like the Harley in 2016’s Suicide Squad, so I guess that’s just tradition now. She’s still a lot of fun here. Fans of the animated Harley Quinn show may be dismayed that this King Shark is nothing like the one on that show, but he’s so good in this movie. He’s essentially a himbo and I love him with all of my heart.

The Suicide Squad is certainly not a perfect movie. At times, I’m not even sure I liked it. A lot of the humor didn’t land super well with me. And I didn’t like some of the characters (looking at you John Cena’s Peacemaker, and several minor characters who appear briefly in the first ten minutes of the movie). But when the movie works, it works very well. I went into this hoping for something that would be fun, enjoyable, and filled with a lot of cool action sequences. And that’s exactly what I got. I had a great time watching the movie, and I’d gladly do so again despite all of its problems. It’s not a movie that’s gonna be for everyone, and I totally understand those who feel like it’s just too offensive, too gory, too whatever. But I have a soft spot for movies like this, and I had a lot of fun with this one.

4 out of 5 wands.

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