I wasn’t expecting much but The Suicide Squad felt like a major step back for Gunn. It’s a gratuitously gory, vulgar movie that isn’t all that entertaining.
Before I start this review I have one thing to say first; The Suicide Squad isn’t the worst comic book movie ever made but it’s nowhere near the greatest ever either.
Seven years ago, James Gunn did something that no one else in the superhero industry at the time had done. He took five largely unknown comic book characters (4 of them alien, two of them non-humanoid) and made a comedic, vibrant movie with a killer 70s’ soundtrack that felt like, in every way; it should’ve flopped but it didn’t. The movie was filled with humor and heart, great action scenes, and great characters. And a whirlwind of Marvel magic that turned the obscure Guardians of the Galaxy into a household name.
Since then, we’ve seen wittier, more eclectic shades of superhero movies like Deadpool, Thor: Ragnarok, and Birds of Prey. These are movies that probably wouldn’t have been greenlit if James Gunn’s out-there Guardians of the Galaxy hadn’t performed so well among critics and the audience. *tssk tssk tssk* That feels like a long seven years ago, doesn’t it?
Since Gunn’s superhero movie-making debut his films have increasingly declined in enjoyment. Three years after Guardians of the Galaxy‘s shocking debut it got a sequel that wasn’t able to capture the same lightning in a bottle. There was more familial drama and higher stakes. The visuals were better and the action scenes were a tad bit grander. But the jokes weren’t as funny, the noisy bickering between the Guardians was excessive. And there was a sense that James Gunn hadn’t quite understood what we, the fans, liked about his first Guardians of the Galaxy.
A BORING BLOCKBUSTER?
Yes, we loved his eccentricity and his humor. But he dialed that eccentricity to 11. And it’s very visible with The Suicide Squad; a gratuitously gory, vulgar sucker-punch of a movie that actually isn’t all that entertaining. In fact, I can’t believe I would be writing this but The Suicide Squad is boring. Let’s take a deeper dive into this failed attempt at a great James Gunn movie.
REVIEW TIME: MAJOR SPOILERS AHEAD!
When the movie starts we immediately are introduced to The Suicide Squad; a collection of eccentric inmates with special abilities and cool-looking outfits. They are immediately tasked by Amanda Waller (Viola Davis) to infiltrate an island called Corto Maltese. Here the story introduces us to a bunch of characters who I started to like pretty instantly as they are transported to the island. And then the movie turns into the opening sequence in Saving Private Ryan.
Mayhem ensues. There is rampant death that you just don’t see in comic book movies. One character’s face is blown off, Captain Boomerang is shredded into a million bloody pieces by helicopter blades; another character is set ablaze and then cut in half by a helicopter. Another character’s head is detonated, and blown off. I mean…as someone who plays Mortal Kombat I can handle extreme violence. But this movie lets you know from the get-go it’s going to be tough to watch.
As this alternate Suicide Squad is annihilated we then learn that there was another team. The primary one that we see in the trailers, set on another beach. This team consists of Bloodsport, Peacemaker, Ratcatcher 2, Polka-Dot Man, and King Shark. They are the stars of this story and it is their story that Gunn wants us to follow. What transpires after that helluva of an opening sequence is one hour and thirty minutes of utter boredom.
The story flashes back to let us know why this primary Suicide Squad has been assembled. Waller gives them a simple mission; locate Project Starfish on Corto Maltese and destroy it. But this movie is anything but simple right?
The Suicide Squad never feels conventional in its storytelling structure. What takes an hour and a half to happen (the Suicide Squad reaches the tower on the other side of the island where Project Starfish is taking place) should’ve happened in the first forty minutes; according to the breakneck speed the movie started us off with. Then, because it does take so long to get to the meat of the story thanks to a slow pace. Thanks to some boring storytelling detours (specifically the one with Harley Quinn and the General), by the time you get to the good part of the movie you’re simply bored to exhaustion.
What makes it worse, by the time they got to Project Starfish, there were only three characters I liked in the film. Colonel Flagg because he’s an O.G and I always thought he was a cool character, Bloodsport, and Ratcatcher 2. I mean…I like Harley Quinn and yeah she’s a violent bad*** but Gunn just made her seem really stupid to me in this movie and she’s better than that.
So yeah, they finally reached Starro the Conqueror who was actually, in my opinion, quite terrifying. That’s when things go down. Flagg, when realizing the US had something to do with the inhumane project that is Project Starfish, decides to take a drive that has all of the truth on it. He and Peacemaker clash and to my great surprise and anger, Peacemaker killed Flagg. I was shocked, mortified, and livid all at once! It made me despise Peacemaker even more.
Fast forward a little bit, the remaining members of The Suicide Squad had to fight Starro to save the inhabitants of Corto Maltese. Polka-Dot Man perished. I wasn’t sad. Rats saved the day. (Was I supposed to cry at that part because it didn’t pull my heartstrings in the way that Star-Lord’s connection with his mother always breaks me in the climactic Power Stone scene?). Harley Quinn took a swim in Starro’s eyeball fluid. And…The Suicide Squad saved the day. The end.
And that’s literally the movie, folks.
I wasn’t expecting much but The Suicide Squad felt like a major step back for Gunn. DC Comics and Warner Bros. gave him full creative liberties for this film and you can tell. His sense of humor isn’t that funny, I felt like the vulgarness was unwarranted and starkly reminded me of those putrid tweets that almost got him canceled a few years ago. And the gore was ridiculous. Absolutely not cool.
Am I still looking forward to Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3? Yes, I still am but only for the characters. Do I believe that Gunn could screw it up? Yes, I think he can. Hopefully, Marvel Studios puts the reins back on him and with that level of constraint, he can deliver a worthy third Guardians of the Galaxy movie that is both emotionally powerful and super fun like the first one was.
The Suicide Squad is distributed by Warner Bros. and is playing in cinemas worldwide now. The movie is also available to stream on HBO Max in the United States.
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Hello everyone. My name is Annlyel James. I’m a young woman who loves movies of all genres (specifically ‘Star Wars’ and Marvel movies.) I am also a Senior Correspondent for The Future of the Force.