Published On August 4, 2021 | By Matt Neufeld | FILM REVIEWS

​Starring Margot Robbie, Idris Elba, John Cena, Joel Kinnaman, Viola Davis, Jai Courtney, Peter Capaldi
Written by James Gunn
Based on the “Suicide Squad” comic books by John Ostrander
Produced by Charles Roven and Peter Safran
Cinematography by Henry Braham
Edited by Fred Raskin and Christian Wagner
Music by John Murphy

Director and screenwriter James Gunn’s disastrous comic book movie “The Suicide Squad” is one huge awful, terrible, overly-violent, overly-gory, overly-negative–nihilistic even, disjointed, over-done, over-loud, rambling, un-funny, un-suspenseful, un-thrilling, un-exciting major mess and mistake of a movie.

Please–do not spend any of your money and time on this movie–not even as a rental. This is yet another over-done, over-long, headache-inducing comic book movie that didn’t need to be made–and shouldn’t have been made.

Hey, David Zaslav of Discovery–this is definitely not what you want to spend your hard-earned millions on while crazily purchasing WarnerMedia and Warner Bros.–an entertainment merger that’s as wrong-headed as this movie. If anything, “The Suicide Squad” is the type of big-budget flop that will definitely harm your purchase, hurt your business and instantly destroy your bottom line.

“The Suicide Squad” is a major disappointment. You’ve been warned: Stay away.

There are many filmic elements that destroy “The Suicide Squad”–including bad acting, including from some experienced actors who should know much better; a moronic, unimaginative, non-creative script that blatantly steals from about, oh, a thousand other movies; scattershot, unhinged, lunatic and overly broad and simply out-of-control direction; sloppy production; and even cheesy special effects and make-up–but the absolute worst is an idiotic, bizarre decision to saturate–and saturate is the word–this movie with R-rated unsettling, gross-out, graphic bloody violence and violent scenes. “The Suicide Squad” seems to sadistically, brutally, offensively–and moronically and idiotically–revel in overly-violent blood, gore, guts, decapitations, stabbings, spearings, dismemberments and other horribly graphic and stomach-churning violent scenes that are literally unwatchable. Everything runs and melts and mushes and disappears together into one long, ugly nightmare and one horrendous disaster of a movie. This movie is not appropriate for little kids, it’s not appropriate for pre-teens, and it’s not even appropriate for most younger teens. Actually, this movie’s not appropriate for anyone.

Just what were Gunn, the movie’s producers and Warner Bros. suits thinking when they concocted this mess? A good guess is that they wanted to capitalize on the satirical and comedic success of “Deadpool,” a 2016 R-rated comic book movie that also celebrated and satirized its violence. But a major difference between “Deadpool” and the legions of desperate copycat comic movies during the last five years is that “Deadpool” was an actually funny movie that figured out how to balance that shaky, precarious mixture of comedy, satire, action, adventure and fantasy. Somehow, “Deadpool” presented some bloody violence too, yes, but the movie also satirized and parodied not only that violence, but the entire comic book genre itself, resulting in a smart, insightful and creative turn on the entire over-loaded genre. “The Suicide Squad,” though, alas, does not achieve that balance, doesn’t strike any balance, is not funny, is not necessarily satirical, and, as mentioned, it’s never creative, original or inventive.

Despite the success of the one-shot “Deadpool,” there’s really no need to present comic book and superhero science-fiction, fantasy and supernatural genre movies as dark, bleak, negative, nihilistic, depressing–or bloody gory disgustingly violent. These movies, in the end, should indeed always be positive, upbeat–and fit for kids, pre-teens, teens and adults who are kids at heart. There just doesn’t have to be bloody, gory and gross-out violence. The same could be said for most films in most genres, really–most of the graphic bloody and gory violence in most movies throughout history is unnecessary. Violence needs to be presented in films not in ways that turn peoples’ heads, eyes and stomachs, but in more stylized, understated filmic ways that prove the messages that the violence is intended to send without letting the actual violence stand in the way of those messages. That’s the main challenge in regards to the use of violence in film and television–to utilize that violence not in a childish, amateurish, gratuitous manner simply to shock and disgust, but to stylishly, intelligently present important message that are, of course, anti-violence.

Unfortunately, Gunn seems to have completely lost his mind, bearing and basic filmic understandings about the use of movie violence with “The Suicide Squad,” and, again, this bizarro violence overpowers and destroys this movie. Within the first few minutes, several characters are abruptly slaughtered in disgusting ways that send no message other than to say “look what we can do with special effects:” one character is shot point-blank in the face, graphically and grossly; another character is literally blown to bits, graphically and grossly; another character who has detached his arms is brutally shot to death in a barrage of gunfire as he squirms around on the ground without his arms, graphically and grossly. And this is just within the first few minutes of the movie–and the bloody, graphic and gross violence just continues and even gets worse as the movie plods and rambles on. One character is literally torn in two–as body parts go flying across the screen. Another character is drawn and quartered–his arms and legs are tied and then the constraints are pulled, literally tearing the man apart on screen. Another character is eaten by a shark–and his dismembered head is shown between the shark’s teeth. Yet other characters are continually stabbed, shot, dismembered, beheaded, torn apart, crushed to death and even stomped to death by a marauding creature. In one horrible shot, dismembered, bloody, gross creatures and people are shown bloodied and battered in a mad scientist’s nightmarish chamber of horrors.

It’s all just inane, insane and offensive. James Gunn, the producers and Warner Bros. should apologize to DC Comics fans and fans of the Suicide Squad comic book characters–all deserve much better than this nightmare.

And we haven’t even mentioned that this movie follows by five years a previous Warner Bros. and DC Comics comic book movie from 2016 called–are you ready for this?–“Suicide Squad.” That’s not a joke. Warner Bros. has had the chutzpah, guts–and stupidity–to release two movies–with the same comic book genesis and sources and some of the same characters– that are called “Suicide Squad” and “The Suicide Squad” within a five-year period. This would be surprising if not for the realization that Disney and its Marvel subsidiary and Warner Bros. and its DC subsidiary have unleashed on the world at least seventy-five–that’s 75–comic book and super hero movies since just 2000. Think about that for a second–and then go and get the aspirin you’ll need for your throbbing head. And that’s just from these two studios. Think about all of the other comic book and superhero movies from other studios that have been released just since 2000. Now you’ll need some Ibruprofin. Then think about the comic book and superhero movies that already in the can and are scheduled to be released within just the next few years. Now you’ll need to call your doctor and get some prescription medication.

The point is, and it’s been said many times and it keeps being said: There have been, and there still are, far too many comic book and super hero science fiction, fantasy, supernatural and action-adventure movies. Yes, yes, some of them are okay, some are good and some are even above-average–we all know that. But the reality is, and the overall continually, disappointing nature of this entire area of film is, that most of these movies are below-average, un-original, non-inventive, non-creative, repetitive, retreads, unneeded sequels, prequels, remakes, reboots and re-imaginings and simply not needed. This has been said many times here and elsewhere, but until Hollywood snaps out of whatever dastardly, evil villain mad scientist money-grabbing blindsided dark spell many of its suits are under, this criticism will continue to be stated. And it’s not coming just from the media–it’s coming from diehard fans, casual fans, occasional fans, regular filmgoers from all quarters and the public at large.

And besides the generally negative criticisms and reviews of many of these movies, there’s that nagging aspect of diminishing box office returns for the studios and production companies to consider. And it’s not just the virus pandemic–box office returns for many of these movies were dropping before the pandemic. Yes, yes, we all know that some of these movies made a ton of money and that some of them somehow made it into the top spot, the top five and the top ten lists of the biggest-grossing movies of all time. We all know that 2019’s “Avengers: Endgame” actually became, for a time, the biggest-grossing movie of all time. But that doesn’t matter–even that movie wasn’t a great or even good movie; it was average at best. And the same could be said with some of the others that made money. Money isn’t everything–even in the film industry–really. In a world that’s continually dumbing down and becoming more economically disparate and separate, filmmakers do indeed have a creative and a business responsibility to produce movies that are more socially, culturally, intellectually and politically intelligent, original, inventive, creative and important.

Hollywood simply needs to take a long break from comic book and superhero movies–at least a five-year break. Enough, already! There are plenty of sources for new and original movies–literally thousands of untapped sources. The world simply doesn’t need another Avengers, X-men, Fantastic Four, Suicide Squad, Batman, Superman, Spiderman, Wonder Woman or this-man or that-woman movie. The genre is and has been over-saturated for too long now–and it’s generally bringing down the film industry. That’s not really an opinion–it’s true. The truly inventive, creative, original and smart films have been getting wrongly and unfairly shoved aside, pushed aside, bullied, hidden, trapped and disregarded by the studios, the theaters and, inadvertently, the public because of this over-saturation of these comic book and super hero movies–and that is, in turn, detrimental to the entire film industry, the public, filmmakers and our culture in general. None of this is opinion, either–it’s a fact.

So the film industry needs to change, and change quickly. With the already diminishing returns and viewership due to the virus pandemic, with the increasing number of closed-down movie theaters and with a sudden over-reliance on an already-saturated and already-confusing online streaming world, the film industry is on the verge of a major collapse and a major crisis. Again–this is fact.

What does all of this have to do with “The Suicide Squad?” Everything, because “The Suicide Squad” represents everything that’s part of this problem, and the movie and its myriad failings are big parts of the problem.

As for the plot of “The Suicide Squad,” well, if you must know: A group of super heros with varied and odd supernatural powers is ordered by a secretive, shady and suspicious government agency to invade a rogue militaristic island nation that is home to a secret lab run by a mad scientist who is conducting illegal and horrific experiments to blend people with creatures to create mindless zombie hybrid monsters that the island nation plans to utilize to take over the world. That’s not satire or parody–that’s really the basic plot of “The Suicide Squad.” The too-long list of movies, television shows, books, comic books and short films that Gunn, who wrote and directed this mess, ripped off for the movie is too long to list here. Yes, every movie rips off from other movies–we know that, too. But, as previously noted, Gunn borrows and steals so blatantly, he offers nothing new or original. It’s just the same cookie-cutter, cliched scenario played out, as always, against noise, mayhem, fights, shootings, stabbings, explosions, destruction, more mayhem and more chaos–but with the added graphic and gross violence.

Another disappointing surprise with all of this craziness is that Gunn actually directed and co-wrote one of those few comic book superhero movies from the last twenty-one years that stands out as an excellent, original, creative, fun and entertaining movie, 2014’s “Guardians of the Galaxy.” “Guardians,” actually, is one of the gold standards for these genre movies since 2000. So it’s just bizarre–but, again, not surprising considering the general state of the film industry as discussed here–that Gunn has directed and written one of the best comic book superhero movies and one of the worst. The law of diminishing returns and over-saturation can envelop, engulf and endanger even the best of us.

And that said, it’s time for the smart, talented, sexy, sultry and stunningly beautiful Margot Robbie to finally give up and retire her reign as the once-hilarious, once-original character Harley Quinn. Robbie, as Harley Quinn, actually stole most of the scenes in “Suicide Squad”–the one from 2016–and she held her own pretty good when she headlined as the star playing Quinn in 2020’s “Birds of Prey.” But this time around, Quinn, despite Robbie’s best efforts, best intentions and outrageously sexy presence and charisma, comes through in “The Suicide Squad” as dumbed down–even more so than the Quinn character is normally dumbed down–tired, un-funny and nearly irritating. Quinn is still a strong character, and Robbie is a strong actor, but in this particular context, Quinn’s usual humor, bravado and independence are swallowed up by everything too loud and everything too crazy swirling all around her to register as an effective character and presence.

Of course, it’s time to give up and retire the Suicide Squad characters and movies for a while, too. There are plenty of other characters out there who can save the world.

Meanwhile, moviegoers looking for quality film entertainment during these August dog days of summer have “The Green Knight,” “Stillwater” and “12 Mighty Orphans” to watch, savor and enjoy. Thankfully, there are some quality films in the theaters this summer.


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