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The Suicide Squad

In 2016 the hype surrounding SUICIDE SQUAD was massive. The film, which boasted A-listers Will Smith, Margot Robbie, and Jared Leto, served as a beacon of hope that the DC Expanded Universe would finally be able to stand toe-to-toe with the mighty AVENGERS. Unfortunately, like the much-maligned JUSTICE LEAGUE, SUICIDE SQUAD was a muddled mess. Rarely entertaining and consistently disappointing, it was a guaranteed bullseye that somehow missed the mark.

Flash forward five years, and ZACH SNYDER’S JUSTICE LEAUGE found a way to turn garbage into gold, and James Gunn attempted to revitalize THE SUICIDE SQUAD. His film, which isn’t a reboot and not exactly a sequel, introduced a bevy of new characters while inviting Margot Robbie and Joel Kinnaman back into the fold.

With GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY, Gunn took a ragtag group of misfit heroes and threw them together, set their shenanigans to a slick soundtrack, and delivered an unforgettable, visually dazzling adventure. With THE SUICIDE SQUAD, Gunn takes a ragtag group of misfit villains, tosses them together, sets their shenanigans to a slick soundtrack, and has delivered a violently dizzying adventure.

Make no mistake, THE SUICIDE SQUAD is not your typical superhero saga. Within the first ten minutes, bullets have maimed, helicopter blades have chopped, and heads have exploded. Unlike the largely bloodless mayhem that unfolds in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, this SQUAD boasts Tarantino-like levels of violence that is unleashed with hilarious gratuity. If your family is looking for the PG-13 thrills of THOR, you certainly ain’t going to find it here.

The story centers around the squad and its attempt to stop a merciless dictatorship from unleashing an otherworldly weapon upon the planet. Led by Bloodsport (Idris Elba) and Colonel Rick Flag (Kinnaman), not-so-illustrious villains like Captain Boomerang (Jai Courntey), TDK (Nathan Fillion), Blackguard (Pete Davidson), Polka-Dot Man (David Dastmalchian), and my personal favorite Weasel (Sean Gunn) attempt to work together to save all of humanity. Other powerhouses like Harley Quinn (Robbie), Ratcatcher 2 (Cleo Cazo), and the deranged Peacemaker (the perfectly cast and never better John Cena) must cast their egos aside in order to achieve a greater good.

The most refreshing aspect of THE SUICIDE SQUAD is its sheer unpredictability. From the earliest moments, it becomes wickedly apparent that no one is safe. Star-caliber and name recognition will not save you from getting your face blown off. In a genre that tends to follow the same established patterns, Gunn’s anarchistic approach allowed the film to follow its own path and dole out a number of shockingly brutal exits.

The cast seems to have embraced the madness, appearing far more comfortable and cohesive than the 2016 unit. Elba, Kinnaman, Dastmalchian, and Cazo are standouts, effectively allowing the audience to buy into these baddies and letting them emerge as heroes. For my money, it was Cena who absolutely stole the show. His Peacemaker is easily the most deplorable of the lot, a psychopath who will gleefully massacre anyone who stands in the way of him succeeding in his given mission. Attacking the role with such overzealous enthusiasm that he actually showed up to press junkets in full costume, his character projects the worst aspects of what a certain population of humanity with terrifying sincerity. I can’t imagine anyone else in the role, and with the prospect of a Peacemaker series suddenly on the horizon, I’m excited to see where he (and quite honestly, the rest of the squad) can go from here.

(Now playing in theaters and streaming on HBO Max)

THE SUICIDE SQUAD

RATED: R
RUN TIME: 2h 12min
GENRE: Action, Adventure, Comedy
STARRING: Margot Robbie, Idris Elba, John Cena
DIRECTOR: James Gunn
WRITER: James Gunn

GRADE: B

Brian Miller
Film Critic
Based out of Central New York, Brian Miller is a film critic who works in television, radio, and print. Providing passionate and energetic takes on every movie he sees, he looks for the best in a movie, not the worst.