I don’t know why, maybe it’s because of how creatively it presents the gore, or the retro soundtrack with all these awesome songs, or the fact that James Gunn (Guardians of the Galaxy) has his name on top of it, but The Suicide Squad has rave reviews. I think the real reason why is because the bar for the DC Extended Universe has been set so low that anything without another “Martha” moment is automatically masterful in comparison.
The opening sequence introduces a whole bunch of characters, including the return of Boomerang, and of course, Harley Quinn, only for all of them except the Joker’s ex to get killed immediately. So then right after putting the viewer in the mindset of getting to know these kooky costumed baddies (one of which is a peculiar humanoid weasel with bulging eyes), all of a sudden they’re expected to start over with getting to know an entirely new team of characters.
The main guy in this new team is played by Idris Elba and has nothing but daddy issues and a poorly justified fear of rats to make him somewhat interesting. There’s another guy played by John Cena whose only personality trait is finding excuses to pose shirtless. The other three though have pretty interesting gimmicks about them: one is a shark man who only talks in single-word-sentences, one is a girl with a tragic backstory who can communicate with rats, and one is named “Polka-Dot Man.” Now, the characters are definitely not as excessive and incomprehensible as the first movie, even the pet rat manages to be cute, except the rat girl is mostly the butt of millennial jokes, and her backstory tries to fit in with the main guy’s daddy issues to no avail.
Sometimes there’s good character moments that aren’t just about the fun, laughs, or forced exposition; Polka-Dot Man has this thing where he gets sick and has glowing multicolored growths that keep appearing on his face. That alone adds the needed grit to the laughable comic book concept, but it gets viler. To cleanse himself regularly, he twice a day must puke out these growths developing within himself, which connects to his depressing family history. The way that backstory plays into the way he now sees everything is actually bizarre and funny and sad all at the same time: he often sees everybody with his mother’s face like it’s John Malkovich entering his own head.
Other points of the film try to be more stylized with that psychotic goofiness, particularly in how it presents text and captions. That trend starts with the fake-looking blood splatter of a dead body being arranged to spell the intro to the awkward opening credits, then other instances feature things such as clouds or branches spellings words like, “meanwhile…” or “Back to Harley Quinn” or stuff like that. I can’t recall any other time a film built title cards or text into the set itself, and it could have been genius if this narrative actually necessitated it.
Margot Robbie is a terrific actress, and while she blew it the first time she played this role, the second time she played it in Birds of Prey, she pretty much nailed it. Although I’m afraid she’s back to giving a lousy performance. She doesn’t say anything funny, and any time she does acrobatics while engaged in combat, it’s not well showcased. I could tell she’s trying her best, but there’s something about the weak direction or her lack of chemistry with the other actors that holds her back. Oh, and there are times when her Australian accent sneaks through.
Plus, there is one scene that feels dedicated to be Harley’s big moment where she pulls out the guns and kills a hundred soldiers while breaking herself out of a hostage situation. Her killing spree is much like what any other boring old action movie will give you- trying to look so cool with her firing a hailstorm of bullets, with much glory basked in the sheer amount of bloodshed she’s able to produce singlehandedly. To make it worse, there’s a weird point when these multicolored flower graphics appear behind her, which turn into these stylized cartoons with birds, something that’s trying to be so cool but instead comes off as forced.
More on the ways this entire movie is void of logic: King Shark eats people even though real life sharks don’t eat people, the main characters all wear plot armor, they never miss a bullet, and they never run out of ammo. So many things, right down to the government title, “Project Starfish” are too stupid to take seriously. Yet James Gunn somehow knows how to put that lunacy to his advantage by creating humor out of the most disturbing moments.
His vision however can’t save the climax; you know how it seems to be a rule that every comic book movie or major blockbuster needs an intense, CGI heavy climax that’s trying so hard to show off the 3D? One where the entire city is destroyed? Yup, that’s what this climax is like exactly. It’s a bad way to finish up the movie, not only because of the hideous CGI, but because it’s so dang forgettable.
So in conclusion, this is nothing more than an evil movie that wants other people to imitate its violence like we’re living in the Purge. Its logic is, “Nothing matters, so let’s just do whatever the heck we want. What’s the worst that could happen?” Well, when there’s no rules and everyone’s free to hurt whomever they want, I’ll tell you what could happen: Black Lives Matter has to become a thing. ISIS causes countless families to suffer. I say it's because of atrocities like The Suicide Squad that people are brainwashed into thinking hate is the answer. The movie is formulaic and forgettable enough so that you get the mentality down yet over time are unable to pinpoint what triggered that mentality. Why watch a movie with all the components of a memorable movie but none of the heart and soul that actually makes one worthwhile?
If there is a specific movie you’d like to see graded, or if you are interested in guest blogging for my site, please email me at Trevor@TrevorsViewOnHollywood.com for your recommendations.
Have a great weekend, and happy watching!