There was a time when parents used to worry about their kids’ reading comic books. The parents thought that the antics shown on those bright colored pages would influence and rot their children’s minds. Those were the early days of Superman and Batman where the good guys were always good, they didn’t swear and were a champion of morals. Now we have The Suicide Squad and those parents’ fears just might come to fruition.
The first Suicide Squad movie came out in 2016 and despite high ticket sales, it was ultimately a disappointment for hardcore fans. There was a lot of action but a lot of the storyline was muddled and confusing. Still, after a string of ultra-serious reboots of the Caped Crusader and the Man of Steel, Suicide Squad was one of the first DC Comic movies to not take itself so seriously. It took its cue from Marvel Studios and included a lot more humor and even heart to its story. A sequel was quickly announced, but with a warning that much of it would have to be tweaked. And boy did they.
For a long time, movie theologians have been debating if this summer’s The Suicide Squad would a sequel or a reimaging to the 2016 movie. It is basically a sequel with some of the original cast members returning to reprise their evil roles and others just dropped altogether with a bunch of new characters filling the gaps. Characters like The Joker, who played such a pivotal role in the first movie are never mentioned in the new film. Okay, yes, Jerod Leto’s version of the green-haired menace was annoying compared to all of the other jokers in the past and the movie did allude that he actually died, but you know DC will never let that character go. And while Batman and The Flash had cameo roles in the first film, no actual super hero is ever shown or even mentioned in this new movie. In addition, Warner Bros. has clearly gone in a new direction by actually hiring someone from Marvel, the studio who is known for their lighter and humor-filled stories.
Now if you’re thinking, “Oh, this James Gunn, he directed Guardians of the Galaxy. My kids loved that movie.” Stop it. There is really no comparisons of The Suicide Squad and the Guardians movie. This film is rated R for strong violence and gore, language throughout, some sexual references, drug use and brief graphic nudity. Hardly the stuff parents want their kids seeing. Still, none of those things are remotely shown in the movie trailers for this film.
Now, I’ve got to stay, The Suicide Squad is one of the most violent and gory film that I have ever seen and yet I am somewhat embarrassed to say that I ended up really liking it. Don’t get me wrong. I believe that the same film could have been made without all the extra CGI gore and bad language and maybe even family-friendly (though that is a stretch). What makes this film is its humor and believe it or not, heart.
The movie opens in Belle Reve, the prison known for having the highest mortality rate in the whole country. This is where you’ll find the worst of the baddies. Brian Durlin, an old man known as Savant (Michael Rooker) is enjoying his few minutes of solitary outside time when he is interrupted by Amanda Waller (Viola Davis) who offers him a job that will get him get out ten years earlier. She leads the secret missions of Task Force X and there is nothing she won’t do to get her way. All Savant has to do is complete his mission and stay alive. If he tries to escape, all Waller has to do is flip a switch that will blow up the explosive that has been put in his neck.
At the same time, Marksman Bloodsport (Idris Elba), is known for shooting Superman with a kryptonite bullet, is given the same offer. He wants nothing to do with the Suicide Squad, but when Waller threatens his daughter, he accepts.
The two meet their other Suicide members including:
- Colonel Rick Flag (Joel Kinnaman) who leads the squad.
- T.D.K. (Nathan Fillion) has body parts that function on their own.
- Captain Boomerang (Jai Courney) who throws a really mean boomerang.
- Javelin (Flula Borg) who wields a deadly javelin.
- Mongal (Mayling Ng) an alien from outer space.
- Blackguard (Pete Davidson) who isn’t as scary as he thinks he is.
- Weasel (Sean Gunn) a human-sized weasel.
- Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie) former girlfriend of The Joker.
- Peacemaker (John Cena) who will kill anyone in order to find peace.
- Ratcatcher 2 (Daniela Melchior) who has a way of training rats.
- Polka-Dot Man (David Dastmalchian) who flings deadly polka dots at people.
- King Shark (Sylvester Stallone) a half human shark who is dumb as a rock.
The mission of the team is to go to the Corto Maltese Jungle, find Doctor Fitzgibbon (John Ostrander) who has a small army of his own and destroy every part of his “Project Starfish” as it is a threat to the world at large. And from what you can already tell by watching the TV commercials that it entails fighting off a giant starfish, but there is much more to it than that.
Looking back, The Suicide Squad probably features the usual troupes you expect from a super hero movie, but you can’t really tell since the story shifts one way and then another. It’s not incoherent or anything. In fact, with so many characters involved, the story is actually very easy to follow. But it features many different twists and turns that you don’t see coming making for a very enjoyable story.
Every character here is well thought out and each have a lot of humor to them. They all get a share of the jokes. Some get more to work with because they have more screen time and some are short on screen time because, well, it’s in the job description.
Harley Quinn is always full of surprises. Though she never mentions The Joker by name, she does explain that she has had a really hard time finding the right guy. Polka-Dot Man has mommy issues and she’s her face in others. Peacemaker cannot see the point of view of anyone else. Javelin is super impressed with himself. Ratcather is adorable. She is always taking a nap and surprisingly appreciates others and can see the good in them. She forms a special bond with Marksman Bloodsport who says she reminds him of his daughter. And wouldn’t you know it? She lost her father years earlier. King Shark is hilarious but also misunderstood and unappreciated by the others. Knowing that he is voiced by Stallone makes him all that funnier. To think that you would find something to like about any of these baddies is pretty amazing and yet, it all seems to work. And The Joker? There’s no way that he would fit in with this crowd.
Like the first Suicide Squad movie, the story tends to weed out a few of the baddies to make way for some needed kindness of the others. In short, this is a redemption movie of sorts proving that no matter how bad you think you are, a little good can still be found in each of us. It’s just unfortunate that we have to go through so much carnage to get to that realization.
Main Image: Warner Bros.
I write about pop culture, arts and entertainment in the greater Seattle area.