- Written and Directed by James Gunn
- July 30, 2021 (United Kingdom) / August 5, 2021 (United States)
Task Force X is sent to the nation of Corto Maltese after their government is overthrown by an anti-American regime and tasked with destroying a Nazi-era laboratory that holds a terrifying experiment that could endanger the world.
I will say from the start I found The Suicide Squad disappointing. To me the story felt like it was made up on the fly rather than well-thought-out or even just mildly thought out. The only strong element was the question of how to kill the next victim.
I applaud the higher number of deaths in this movie. The point of the Suicide Squad concept is that the missions of Task Force X are extremely dangerous and very deadly. Anybody can die. The problem is that most of the deaths in the story here feel as if they were done because James Gunn felt the film had gone too long without somebody dying or he offed someone for reasons that had nothing to do with story development.
Most of the characters that got pushed in marketing were barely in the film. Mercifully Pete Davidson’s character of Blackguard was one of them. I have never found him funny or entertaining or mildly amusing. How this barely talented individual has made it to the level he is at is something that astounds me.
T.D.K. (Nathan Fillion), Weasel (Sean Gunn), Javelin (Flula Borg), Mongal (Mayling Ng), and Savant (Michael Rooker) all bought it within the first few minutes. They got a little something in a flashback sequence but not too much. The characters that get bumped off also include Captain Boomerang (Jai Courtney). Courtney was great as Boomerang in Suicide Squad. I am no fan of the guy, but he genuinely brought the goods in the first film. Here he says a line or two and “Buh-bye.” Most are taken out in the opener to leave no doubt that they will never ever come back in another film.
Margot Robbie returns as Harley Quinn. That was a given considering she is DC’s cinematic answer to Deadpool. The character is untouchable unless Robbie decides to retire from the character. The character though was nothing too special here in comparison to Suicide Squad or Birds of Prey. She was much more comedically wacky in those films than she was here.
Viola Davis plays Amanda Waller once again and is untouchable since the concept kinda falls apart without her. Waller is not nearly as scary here as she was in the last film or any of her animated versions. The character was reduced to more of a caricature of a mean boss than a coldhearted and ruthless bureaucrat who was as dangerous in her own way as the threats that she opposed.
Joel Kinnaman goes one more round as Col. Rick Flag and in this version he is kinda pointless. Not as pointless as Weasel but still pretty pointless. He is just a good soldier and possess no skills that equal or superior to those on Task Force X. I am also confused on why he is still there. He was under Wallers’s thumb because of his feelings for June Moone whom Waller controlled via the heart but Moone was released from that curse by the end of the last film. He has no love or trust of Waller and his record is implied to allow him to move around should he choose yet he is still part of Waller’s program. Why?
Idris Elba debuts as Bloodsport. Bloodsport appears to be a lot like Deadshot in whole execution but not named “Deadshot.” From what I read the part was written as Deadshot with Elba initially recast as the character, but the character was changed to allow Will Smith to reprise the role of Deadshot in the future. Gunn looks like he did the bare minimum of rewrites and from what I know of Bloodsport from the comics made him more like Deadshot than Bloodsport. The only unique character trait is that he is comically afraid of rats because this cold killer being afraid of rats is funny I guess.
Daniela Melchior is Ratcatcher 2 who can control rats because pairing a character that is afraid of rats with a character that controls them is funny! Her father was the first Ratcatcher, but he was no super criminal which makes me confused as to how he is known by Waller. It also confuses me why a nobody like him that built no tiny empire or used his powers for anything other than survival got called “Ratcatcher.” He was just a junkie living on the streets with his daughter.
John Cena shows up as Peacemaker. As a kid I had access to some old Charlton Comics (DC bought the character when Charlton folded) featuring the character and liked them so my opinion of this version of the character is informed by that. This version is ridiculously blinded by patriotism to the point he is cartoonish. I guess he is making a point about patriotism or meant to be a comedic Captain America.
Sylvester Stallone shows up as the voice of King Shark which is this film’s answer to Groot. After all the intention looked to be to turn this into DC’s Guardians of the Galaxy and they hired the guy behind those films so I guess it makes sense. He is the seemingly mindless muscle/reliable comic relief of the team. The character design here is a step or three below the version shown in The Flash.
David Dastmalchian as Polka-Dot Man was mostly a pleasant surprise. You come to care about the character. He is a criminal who was experimented on by his mother in order to become a superhero and the experiment left him damaged in so many ways. There is a moment when he sees the entire team as his mother and that was disturbing and demonstrated just how damaged Polka-Dot Man was. Then Gunn turned the whole mother thing into a goof by having him see a giant version of his mother in place of Starro during the finale. It undid all that character work. In fact Polka-Dot Man was the only character development of the film and he tossed it aside to try for a laugh.
Peter Capaldi was criminally underused as The Thinker who is the scientist in charge of Project Starfish. The Thinker does nothing really against the team. He is just the McGuffin that gets them into Nazi-era laboratory of Jötunheim in Corto Maltese. The Thinker works for Silvio Luna (Juan Diego Botto) who is the current dictator of Corto Maltese and Gen. Mateo Suárez (Joaquín Cosío) who is his righthand man. They are all merely road bumps in the narrative if anything at all.
And this is a problem with the film. The villain(s) a hero or heroes (even bad guys forced to be heroes) face must feel equal to those they face off against. They must seem a threat to success in order for the viewer to become invested in the resolution. The villains just never were that. Waller was not as dangerous as she once was and easily overcome by her staff. The evil heads of Corto Maltese were easily dispatched. And in the end Starro was not too big of a deal.
The costumes for a big budget tentpole film looked kind of crappy. Then again the crappier the costume the more likely they were to die at some point in the film. Seriously. Harley Quinn and Bloodsport have the nicest costumes in the movie and King Shark is one of the cooler looking characters despite being a step down from his other iteration. Guess who makes it on through to the final credits? Admittedly Ratcatcher 2 does not have a spectacular costume but she had a nice bonding moment with Bloodsport which I guess was meant to convey heart and humanize the character but it felt cliché.
My other complaint is a general one about superhero films today. There is no need to have a world threatening villain in a movie like this or in any superhero movie. Not every hero has to save the entire planet. Sometimes saving the world they inhabit as individuals is enough. Or just giving them something seriously dangerous to go against. Suicide Squad: Hell to Pay is an example of what I am talking about. The mission there was significant and dangerous but the fate of the entire planet did not hang in the balance.
The finale was bad. All the super powered characters in this movie and Starro the Conqueror is taken down by a swarm of rats. I found it reminiscent of Squirrel Girl from Marvel Comics and how she has been said to of taken down or has been shown to have taken down characters that are viewed as significantly more powerful than her. A swarm of rats starts chewing on Starro and Harley Quinn pierces it’s giant eye allowing rats to get on the inside. It looks like it was crafted to be funny, but it just ended up being stupid. All these characters and you use that as the story’s means of victory.
I never go in expecting a masterpiece. I go in expecting to be entertained. Despite this being called funny not once did I laugh. I am willing to watch a movie that requires me to leave my brain at the door, but those movies also need to entertain and this one did not. It tried to be Guardians of the Galaxy rather than be its own thing and it was not nearly as entertaining. That says more about the limitations of Gunn than anything.
In the end The Suicide Squad was just okay and not great. Nothing to get excited over. I think you can skip this one.