Under the guidance of director James Gunn, The Suicide Squad has been dispatched for their next mission – but I’m not so sure it was worth them dying to complete it
Don’t get me wrong – it was fine and entertaining in some spots, with plenty of neat visuals and good performances to complement them. Yet, that said, I don’t think it lives up to the agog anticipation felt by many ever since the film’s first trailer made its debut at last year’s DC FanDome showcase.
In The Suicide Squad, Amanda Waller (Viola Davis) has once again assembled a crack team of misfits, filling its roster out with the worst and most dangerous inmates at Belle Reve and sending them to put a lid on a mess that could create a global incident. The situation requires the Task Force to travel to the failing South American state of Corto Maltese, where very few of them have a chance of returning alive.
Leading the outfit, although strictly supervised (if not outright hampered) by Waller and her inside man Peacemaker (John Cena), is Bloodsport (Idris Elba), the man who sent Superman to the hospital with a Kryptonite bullet. Reluctant to join her team, Bloodsport is incentivized to join after Waller threatens to send his daughter (Storm Reid) for nothing more than stealing a smartwatch (which, as Bloodsport points out, does nothing that her phone doesn’t already do).
So, what’s the objective? Go in, confiscate, and erase all traces of something called Project Starfish without getting caught up in the military coup currently moving against Corto Maltese’s hostile regime. Unfortunately for Waller and the team, the revolution is boiling over and, unbeknownst to them when they begin, the Suicide Squad is about to set free a starry cosmic “Beast”.
The setup offers so much promise. It felt initially like the clash of ideals between Bloodsport and Peacemaker, or the former and Waller, would have had a bigger payoff than it did, but things never quite got there. Instead, we’re left with a lot of painfully unfunny jokes and gags that wouldn’t even look good in a (hypothetically R-rated) Marvel movie from five years ago.
Peacemaker’s obsession with buttholes is the least of it. Polka Dot Man (David Dastmalchian) is the one ultimately taking the Razzie for worst writing.
A Polka Dotted Mess
The product of a STAR Labs experiment into making superheroes, he gets powers from his polka dots, which are a manifestation of interdimensional energy resulting from an alien virus. His dots even have the ability to hurt Starro, though that’s another thing which, annoyingly and disappointingly, has no payoff.
No, rather than him rising to the occasion, we’re subjected to Polka Dot Man’s mommy issues. As explained in the film, Polka Dot Man’s mother not only experimented on her son and his siblings in the hopes of turning them into ‘superheroes’, but she also abused him so badly that he was left traumatized and scarried for life. He sees her everywhere, and these hallucinations – combined with his hatred for his mother – are why he is so willing and able to kill anybody.
If only that’s where it stopped. We are forced to see the world through his eyes and look upon numerous mirages of his rotund, bespectacled, middle-aged mom when he’s with his teammates in the jungle, at a nightclub, and fighting the colossal Star Conqueror. That’s right, even Starro appears like a giant version of Polka Dot Man’s mom, albeit after the gag has run thin.
Others fare even worse, mostly out of having a lack of thigns to do. Aside from a few heartfelt moments for King Shark (Sylvester Stallone) and Ratcatcher (Daniela Melchior) that the story forgets to follow up on, there isn’t much for them to do. Gunn may have thought he had another Groot or Ruffalo Hulk on his hands with the hulking sea monster voiced by Stallone, but all he does is act dumb and eat people. It’s real rinse-and-repeat stuff.
Is There A Star In The House?
There are moments of brilliance when they get into Ratcatcher’s backstory with her late heroin-addict father, the OG Ratcatcher, played by Taika Waititi. These moments, however, only come in flashes, with Waititi barely having any lines to read.
Poised newcomer Melchior holds her own, brings breath and pathos to Ratcatcher’s quirks and love of rodents. However, unless she shows up in the Peacemaker series, I don’t think she will get more opportunities to continue fleshing out her character.
This is sad because, in the film’s too-bloated-for-its-own-good cast, there are precious few show stealers. John Cena’s Peacemaker is serviceable, but hardly any different from any of the roles he’s done before. As Harley Quinn, Margot Robbie gets to cut loose again, but her attachment to Javelin’s eponymous and absurdly important MacGuffin and subsequent part in the film’s climax is feels extraneous and a little forced.
The real star and commanding lead is Idris Elba as Bloodsport. Not only does he soundly step in for Will Smith’s Deadshot, but Bloodsport’s story also has the most stakes and stands as the film’s most clearcut redemption arc. By the end, he proves (as it was hinted at all along) that there is real good in himself, becoming the kind of self-sacrificing leader Captain America and Iron Man did in The Avengers.
That’s the best praise I can give to a piece that doesn’t offer much that’s either original or satisfying. Overall, The Suicide Squad is a good-but-not-great effort that would – and could – lean more towards the latter if it wasn’t a tad overblown and self-indulgent.
Going in, all his Hollywood friends felt bad for Gunn (who before the film had lost his directing the Guardians of the Galaxy series at Marvel following the resurfacing of old tweets) and fawned over him while he continued his career “against all odds” at Warner Bros.
This narrative set the bar for Gunn’s DC debut to a high, virtually unrealistic level, which ultimately gave way to disappointment when the film ultimately delivered an experience that delivers more of the same in regards to Gunn’s style of film making.
Summed up, his Suicide Squad is GOTG meets Slither – an approximation which tells me Gunn’s best movies are behind him.
- Idris Elba as Bloodsport.
- The buildup to Starro and Jotunheim, including Thinker’s (Peter Capaldi) place in the story.
- Visual nods to the John Ostrander comics that help structure the narrative.
- The same old toilet humor and sex jokes from Gunn.
- Joel Kinnaman's Rick Flag may not return in the future.
- We’re introduced to Savant, Blackguard, Arm-Fall-Off Boy, Mongal, and Starro with a comeback by Captain Boomerang and they are all wasted. Why even bother then?