The Suicide Squad (2021) Movie Review – A real love/hate affair

The Meh Squad

The Suicide Squad is a real marmite movie; you’ll either love it or hate it. As someone who really doesn’t like marmite, you may guess which side of this polarizing debate I fall. Now, don’t get me wrong there are enjoyable moments here but the movie has so many flaws and a serious issue with exposition.

To be fair, most of these problems are exclusive for the first 35 minutes, which are incredibly rough around the edges. This entire sequence is essentially one big exposition dump, with a bit of action thrown in.

Now, before we dive into that it’s worth mentioning that The Suicide Squad is a soft reboot/sorta sequel to the original film and while a couple of players survive the jump to this movie (namely Harley Quinn and Amanda Waller) it’s largely a whole new ensemble to play with. An ensemble, I may add, that feels very similar to that of 2016’s team.

The story itself begins with a big ol’ exposition dump as Amanda Waller explains who our team are to new recruit T.D.K. before Harley joins the party. The team touch down on the beach and a violent massacre ensues, with our first team wiped out. Given the film has just spent 10 minutes prior to this explaining who all these people are, it renders the entire runtime somewhat pointless.

We then jump back 3 days prior to follow our actual suicide squad for the movie. Once more, we’re told who everyone is, what their purpose and powers are along with an actual mission briefing.

The team are basically being tasked with shutting down a secret military project called Project Starfish. In order to do that they need to break into a top secret facility called Jotunhein and enlist the help of a being known as The Thinker in order to make that happen.

The story is simple enough to follow, but the movie almost insultingly points to where it’s going next, moving different elements on the screen around to spell out the next mission. Maybe it’s just me but whether it be a rescue mission or heading to Jotunheim, the visual expository text feels annoyingly patronizing at times.

The centerpiece for all this carnage though is definitely Bloodsport, a gruff assassin type who’s basically this film’s version of Deadshot. There’s also King Shark (the real star of the show), Peacemaker, Ratcatcher 2 and Polka-dot Man.

Harley Quinn is here too but to be honest her subplot is kept completely separate to most of the gang for a lot of the run-time. The reasoning for this is a little contrived but it’s clear, based on the action set pieces she gets involved in, that she’s the one DC are pinning their hopes on to turn their fortunes around.

Unlike the gritty, serious tone some of the other DC movies adopt, this one leans in hard to its influences of Guardians of the Galaxy, which is unsurprising given James Gunn is behind the camera for this. However, the movie takes liberties with its humour and unlike Guardians’ natural chemistry and one-liners, the comedy here is much more of a mixed bag.

King Shark has some pretty good one-liners and Bloodsport is brought to life in the best possible way by Idris Elba. By comparison you have the goofy humour of Harley Quinn, with punchlines that drag on, while Peacemaker’s delivery of quips range from outright awful to amusingly deadpan.

The soundtrack is another big sticking point too. For Guardians of the Galaxy it worked and actually heightened the action. Here though, it feels distracting and completely at-odds with the tone of the story and the R-rated bloody violence.

There are undoubtedly going to be a lot of people who love this movie. Sometimes it’s nice just to switch your brain off and go in and enjoy the action – and there’s nothing wrong with that. The trouble is, this movie is so poorly paced that you can’t help but notice the flaws outside of those bloody action scenes.

The Suicide Squad is a film rife with try-hard humour, a simplistic story and a mixed bag of characters that are bogged down by an abundance of exposition. It soaks this film in a nasty dollop of treacle that causes the second act to drag on longer than it should.

When the action does pick up it’s gloriously grotesque and bloody, but by then it feels too little too late. This movie tries hard to juggle its discordant tones and ideas and unfortunately fails to do so in a compelling way.


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