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The team members of The Suicide Squad, now playing in theaters and streaming on HBO Max through Sept. 5 (Photo provided by @clarxf_ via Twitter) 

Film Review: ‘The Suicide Squad’ is a hilarious movie with R-rated gore

The Suicide Squad follows a miscellaneous bunch of DC’s most popular villains, like Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie), and a majority of its more ridiculous and mostly forgotten ones, like Polka-Dot Man (David Dastmalchian) and Ratcatcher 2 (Daniela Melchior). These villains come toe-to-toe with South American warlords, strange extraterrestrial threats and, at times, each other.

James Gunn’s The Suicide Squad is the part-sequel, part-reboot to 2016’s Suicide Squad. While the titles may be similar, confusing even; the films themselves couldn’t be any more different. While the 2016 film is a dreary and cold look at DC’s rogues gallery, the 2021 incarnation is vibrant, bombastic and completely enjoyable from start to finish. 

As opposed to the normal comic-book movie, The Suicide Squad is R-rated, a rating which it earns within its first five minutes. Death, gore, despair and just general run-of-the-mill evil are everywhere you look. From the outset, the film makes it clear that these characters are disposable and that they can and will be killed in both grotesque and unceremonious ways. The film’s tagline “don’t get too attached” couldn’t be more accurate. 

Somehow, despite all of this, the film maintains a light tone, never taking itself or its characters very seriously. It knows the absurdity of everything on screen, from the gigantic, man-eating King Shark (Sylvester Stallone/Steve Agee) to the previously mentioned Polka-Dot Man. The characters’ back and forth conversations are almost always hilarious, especially those between Peacemaker (John Cena) and Bloodsport (Idris Elba), who share a hilarious scene competing to see who can kill people in the most brutal and bloody ways. The entire cast’s chemistry is great, turning even unspoken moments into moments the entire audience busted out laughing to. 

The cast, from top to bottom, is quite possibly one of the best ensembles in any comic-book film, second only to Avengers: Endgame. Idris Elba is asked to carry most of the emotional moments for the film, something he makes look effortless. Margot Robbie is, as always, amazing as Harley Quinn, a role she was seemingly born to play. The rest of the squad, especially David Dastmalchian’s Polka-Dot Man and Daniela Melchior’s Ratcatcher 2, all have scene-stealing moments. I can see both of those actors’ careers blasting off following this film, especially the 24-year-old Melchior. Viola Davis’ Amanda Waller is also perfectly portrayed; she’s an awful, angry, power-hungry woman willing to do anything in order to make her agenda into reality. She’s the only major character in the film, aside from its main villains, not made to be funny or likable, making her presence as loathsome to the audience as it is to the other characters.

Somehow, Director and writer James Gunn manages to make this gang of villains, murderers and psychopaths likable, and in some cases lovable. It’s a massive achievement to get the audience on the side of literal villains who have killed countless people in brutal and gory ways, especially when the majority of them are being introduced to a general audience for the first time in this film. It should also be said that making the audience care when some of these characters inevitably end up dead should be applauded. 

Gunn has shown his sense of humor in his other films before, specifically in both of his Guardians of the Galaxy films, but The Suicide Squad feels like he was let off the rails in all the best ways. Everything is over the top, gory, vulgar, dark and almost always played for a joke. Nothing seems off limits, anything can and will happen. This film is an absolute trip, so much happens in a span of two hours and somehow none of it seems rushed or lacks impact. Gunn manages to stuff a two hour film with so much bloodshed and hilarity that the film never drags, even when the characters stop to take a breather, which is a rare occurrence. 

Needless to say, The Suicide Squad is much better than the previous on screen incarnation of the iconic comics team. Hopefully the film will be financially successful, which may lead to Warner Bros and DC letting their filmmakers make their films uninhibited instead of getting interrupted at every turn, something that’s happened to almost every director that’s worked with them in the past decade or so. These studio interferences have notoriously been at fault for the failures of the previous Suicide Squad film and Zack Snyder’s Justice League series of films, which make up the majority of DC’s attempts at making a connected universe, similar to Marvel’s. This film feels like an experiment to see just how successful a filmmaker-led comic-book feature can be for both Warner Bros and Hollywood as a whole. I hope Hollywood is paying attention to this film, as it may lead to more fun, different and disconnected big-budget projects from big studios that would be otherwise seen as risks. 

The Suicide Squad’s breakneck pace only serves to make a great film even better. With cinematography that’s leagues above other recent comic-book films and a soundtrack that makes the film’s standout moments even more so, there’s not many flaws to observe. If you can, watch The Suicide Squad on the biggest screen possible; it’s an amazingly fun way to spend two hours at the movies. 

@zachj7800

zj716018@ohio.edu

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