Movie Review: The Suicide Squad

Satirical, merciless, wild   

   “The Suicide Squad” directed by James Gunn – most notable for his work with Guardians of the Galaxy – stays true to the original comics, heavily based on the John Orstrander stories from the 1980’s.

   Important to note is the difference between “The Suicide Squad”, recently released on Aug 6, 2021 and “Suicide Squad (2016). This new rendition makes a clear effort to distance itself from its poorly received predecessor, featuring a new director, almost a brand new team of unknown anti-heroes and a brand new plot.

   “The Suicide Squad follows a team of superpowered criminals, also known as “Task Force X,” headed by the corrupt government official Amanda Waller. 

   Their mission? To infiltrate Corto Maltese, an island nation that recently fell under dictatorship. Up until the coup, the U.S. had remained neutral with Corto Maltese. However, Corto Maltese makes the U.S. their new target, and in response goes after Corto Maltese’s most important asset. The targeting of Corto Maltese for what the American government ‘rightfully’ owns represents America’s selfish and imperialistic behaviors. “The Suicide Squad” does not shy away from this idea, despite its initial patriotic feel, in the end revealing America and its self-centered tendencies as the true villain. 

   “Task Force X” must take down what may be the most dangerous weapon in the world—an intergalactic starfish. 

    Only after the squad avoids getting killed by the Corto Maltese government, or by Waller herself thanks to the bombs implanted in their neck, they are rewarded with 10 years off their sentence and a renewed chance for freedom — the greatest incentive of all.

   The team lineup is virtually unknown and this gives Gunn the creative freedom to fully explore and complete his vision of each character.    

   There’s Peacemaker, the ridiculous looking, tighty-whitie wearing “hero” who will do anything to achieve peace, Bloodsport, who’s a sharpshooter and master in artillery, and King Shark, the shark humanoid with a ravenous appetite. Then there’s Ratcatcher 2.0, a perpetually tired millennial who inherited her father’s ability to control rats and also Polka Dot Man, a depressed man with mommy issues that got infected by an intergalactic virus. Finally is Rick Flag, the leader and only non-criminal member of the squad, serving as Waller’s second in command. Oh, and of course, the iconic Harley Quinn, the maniacal yet well-intentioned queen of crime.

   Despite the characters’ stark differences and backgrounds, their chemistry is evident, spurred by the same experience they all share and their common goal. This chemistry makes for snappy and sharp character dialogue—smooth character interactions that all add an extra kick to the plot and the characters.

   Like its characters, “The Suicide Squad”’s plot holds its own, especially against the rest of the industry. While most superhero movies take a straightforward approach to telling their story, “The Suicide Squad” isn’t afraid to mix up its direction to deceive the audience in the moment, and later tie it all back. Viewers immediately learn about the characters, but it is only later as the climax approaches that we learn about their true personalities, motives and morals. Gunn doesn’t force character development and allows it to happen at its own pace, building characters off each other.

   “The Suicide Squad” also slays with its experimental cinematography. The movie’s varied camera techniques, angles, panning shots and character focuses engage and break free from the standard generic wide angle used to film action shots. 

   The symbolism throughout the movie’s characters and setting is clear and tasteful. Harley Quinn and Ratcatcher 2.0 challenge the status quo of female superheroes, as powerful females are rare in a male dominated genre. Their independence, self-sufficiency, and heightened morality draw a strong contrast to the male end of the cast. A personal favorite scene of mine is when the male characters hitch an elaborate scheme to break Harley Quinn out of her prison, only for Quinn to break herself out and meet them outside before their “heroic” side mission even begins. 

   Still, the one area “The Suicide Squad” suffers in is its climax, which feels lackluster and underwhelming. It felt like seeing a balloon grow exponentially in size and only when it was supposed to explode, it slowly deflates away. Gunn missed the opportunity to burst the tension while incorporating substantial action and the overall tension.   

 “The Suicide Squad” is the ideal representation of what DCEU movies should be with creative shots, clever and insightful characters, and deep-rooted symbolism. Director James Gunn has managed to turn Task Force X into a new and improved team of imperfect antiheroes with layers and layers of unique character, strength and personality. 

 

Quick take:  Satirical, merciless, wild   

 

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