The Suicide Squad Kills

The Stream: DC’s blatant attempt to carbon copy Guardians of the Galaxy

The Big Screen: Nice moments of humor, cool fight sequences and a lot of gore.

The Final Bill: An entertainingly silly and violent romp

– Trip Fontaine
Director: James Gunn
Writers: James Gunn
Stars: Idris Elba, John Cena, Margot Robbie
Genre: Action, Adventure, Comedy
Rating: R for strong violence and gore, language throughout, some sexual references, drug use and brief graphic nudity
Runtime: 2 hours 5 minutes
Production Companies: Atlas Entertainment, DC Comics, DC Entertainment
Platform: HBO Max and in theaters August 6, 2021

On the first weekend of August 2021, we get the much anticipated release of The Suicide Squad in theaters and on HBO Max. I’m not sure whether this is a sequel to the maligned Suicide Squad from a few years ago, or if this is some kind of reboot. Either way, the folks at DC Comics want this ensemble to take off and be a part of its universe to rival the Marvel-verse. James Gunn, who is responsible for the successful Guardians of the Galaxy movies, directs The Suicide Squad and attempts to bring some his Marvel magic to the DC world. Here’s how it goes.

To be candid, I never saw Suicide Squad. I’d heard such terrible things that I did not give it a chance. I really didn’t know much about the characters going into this movie and that turned out to be a good thing. The Suicide Squad focuses on a group of supervillains incarcerated at Belle Reve who are tapped by the ruthless, Amanda Waller (Viola Davis), to complete a Black Ops mission in exchange for a reduction of their sentences. In this iteration, Bloodsport (Idris Elba), Peacemaker (John Cena) and Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie) team up with others to dismantle a secret government project in the island of Corto Maltese. Lots of violence, gore, and quips ensue.

What people really come to a movie like The Suicide Squad for is the spectacle. James Gunn has packed this flick full of spectacle. There are so many explosions and kills that your eyes are bouncing from every corner of the screen. DC Comics, apparently, are not shying away from that R-rating – it is earned in spades. There is so much gore splattered all over the screen that it’s surprising that none got on me. While a bit overindulgent at a certain point, the kills do make these determined supervillain seem to earn their stripes.

James Gunn translates his success from the Guardians movies here and infuses the Squad with one-liners, winks and a lot of musical cues. Luckily, Gunn’s writing and the assembled cast are up for the challenge. Elba and Cena have a good amount of chemistry as rivals in this gang. They both have a self-serious energy that turns into some very funny moments. Cena has done this kind of goofy energy before, but Elba’s dry humor seems to fit just as well. I’ll also note that in this third performance as Harley Quinn, Margot Robbie has found her stride. She has a good balance of daffy, dastardly comedy and she kicks butt. Harley Quinn is a fun character that can become grating, but there’s just the right amount here.

Ultimately, The Suicide Squad is just a good comic book movie about these supervillains on this fill-in-the-blank mission to stop an evil person from doing a bad thing with an alien invader. It’s not a particularly special or novel concept, and James Gunn does a good job of making it entertaining by using his Guardians of the Galaxy tricks. What’s surprising is that it works well-enough without being silly, boring or too dark, which has been a problem for other DC Comics movies. I’ve decided I will not watch Suicide Squad because I do not want to taint my enjoyment of The Suicide Squad.

S2S: Official Rating Scale

The Suicide Squad is a definite watch on HBO Max. It’s funny and entertaining with a lot of music and gory violence, if that’s your thing. You’ll want to grab a big box of popcorn and watch it multiple times.

Now, as for the theater, I didn’t think that The Suicide Squad does anything different or new such that you should pay full price at a theater. You can really tell that it is influenced by Guardians of the Galaxy and that it desperately wants to reach Marvel highs. I don’t think it does that, but that doesn’t mean it’s not still good or a worthy viewing experience. If you want to go to a theater, catch it at a matinee with a bowl of popcorn.