The Suicide Squad – Film Review

Director: James Gunn

Starring: Margot Robbie, Idris Elba, John Cena, Joel Kinnaman, Sylvester Stallone, Viola Davis, Jai Courtney and Peter Capaldi

Rating: ★★½

It’s been five years since the first Suicide Squad came out and disappointed audiences worldwide, in that time the DC Extended Universe has managed to redeem itself with Wonder Woman 1&2, Aquaman, Shazam and Birds of Prey. Zack Snyder’s Justice League was also released earlier this year and is a great improvement on the theatrical version. Harley Quinn was the stand-out character from the first Suicide Squad, with a stellar performance from Margot Robbie. This was carried on to the spectacular Bird of Prey early last year. Sadly, The Suicide Squad feels like a step backwards compared to these releases.

Being marketed as ‘from the horribly beautiful mind of James Gunn’ The Suicide Squad is a barrage excess. It’s clear that the studio let Gunn do what ever he wanted. There is no feel of studio interference here, like there was in Ayer’s original and that’s definitely a good thing, but there’s nothing reining it in either.

There is a saying that writers must kill their darlings, meaning that they must edit and remove words, scenes, sub-plots, if they don’t add enough. It feels like Gunn didn’t get round to that part of the process here. There are way too many characters and most of them don’t do have enough to do. The shark, Nanaue voiced by Sylvester Stallone (Rocky, Rambo), is a great character, but serves nothing to the story. Harley Quinn is side-lined for the majority of the film with her own sub-plot and doesn’t real serve a purpose for the main plot, although again Robbie is great in the role. Idris Elba (Luther) as Bloodsport and John Cena (F9) as The Peacemaker are too similar and only one is really needed. Peter Capaldi (Doctor Who) as The Thinker is criminally underused.

The entire cast is great, but there’s too many of them. The film is bloated and most of the characters are given enough to really shine, and that’s without going into the endless cameos. On top of that there are so many jokes, with about two thirds not landing. Almost every line of dialogue is either a joke or heavy-handed exposition. It’s really telling that some of the jokes work better in the trailer since lines were cut out. When you see them in the full film they are clunky. There is also a joke where Polka-Dot Man sees his mother as everyone and it’s funny the first time. It just keeps going.

It can’t be stressed enough that the performances are all great and everyone is doing the best with the script they’ve been given. The direction is also stylish as hell, there’s a scene where Harley mows down a load of soldiers, with flowers flying out of their wounds instead of blood, a fight sequence that is shot through the reflection of a helmet. It looks great and the action is well choreographed. When the fights are taking place, it’s entertaining and thrilling. The violence is also unhinged, shockingly so for a comic book film. It’s over the top in the best way. The only thing that isn’t good about the direction is the slow-motion. It’s overused. There are so many sequences of the characters walking towards the camera in slow-motion, most of which felt like they were shot for, and ended up in, the trailer.  

Somewhere in James Gunn’s The Suicide Squad is a really good film, it’s just hidden in a really bloated film. It’s better than the original, but not by that much. If the script was tighter, with less bad jokes, and some of the characters were removed (which is a shame as they are all good, it’s just they don’t have enough to do) this would be an excellent film. The Suicide Squad is a disappointment and could have been a lot better. It’s really stylish and directed beautifully, but the excess of jokes and a silly amount of slow-motion makes it ultimately boring.  

About ashleymanningwriter

Young Adult Fiction writer. Horror and fantasy blended together.
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15 Responses to The Suicide Squad – Film Review

  1. It just seems that DC can’t get it together, at least not consistently. And it doesn’t seem to matter who’s directing.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. R13 says:

    I’m a DC fan and I can admit: the first Suicide Squad is just so gloriously bad that I watch it ironically. Can the same be done here? Judging from your review, I guess yes, but probably not as much as the previous live-action endeavour.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. ManInBlack says:

    Wow! I’ve just read another review of this film and they gave it 9/10! Polarising views indeed! 😛

    The first film was a mess because it was edited by the same people who edited the trailer and the script was all over the place. The director has said the studio messed about with it, which once again proves studios should leave the filmmaking to the filmmakers. I’ll wait for the home media release before seeing this one.

    Liked by 3 people

    • I’m seeing a lot of positive reviews for this one, and a couple of negative ones. I think its going to be polarising for sure.

      The first one with its messy history is such a shame. It sounds like there was a good film there at one point. I doubt we will ever see it though. Its not got the same traction as the Snyder Cut. At least the studios have learnt there lesson, the new one is definitely Gunn’s film

      Liked by 3 people

  4. Ian Kiely says:

    I actually thought this was the best and most entertaining, energised DC film since the Dark Knight or Watchmen.

    I was so into this film from start to finish

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m glad you enjoyed it. I’m hearing a lot of people did. I think the best one of recent years was Shazam. I feel like I need to watch Watchmen again. It’s been a long time and I remember enjoying it.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Ian Kiely says:

        Yeah I’m actually suprised that it is seemingly polarising with some people. I loved the energy and irreverence to it. I did enjoy Shazam in cinema but I haven’t had an urge to ever watch it again haha.

        Oh yeah do it’s very good and the HBO mini series was great as well if you’re interested 😊

        Liked by 1 person

      • I find that with most DC films. I’ll watch once and not go back. The HBO mini series of Watchmen was really great. It surprised me how good it was.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Ian Kiely says:

        Yeah there’s definitely some that I love to rewatch, I’m goanna do the Dark Knight trilogy again soon I haven’t watched them in years.

        Oh me too and I absolutely love the film and the graphic novel too so I was nervous but it really even exceeded my expectations to be honest.


      • Same here. I last saw the Dark Knight trilogy when Rises came out on DVD back in 2012. Can’t believe it’s been 9 years. I will get round to watching them at some point.

        Liked by 1 person

  5. Ashley, I wasn’t sure if you ever watched the Peacemaker series or not. After Suicide Squad, I couldn’t believe it when they announced they were making a series on the Peacemaker character. I had zero interest in watching it when it came out, but over time the reviews really were good…and James Gunn didn’t often disappoint me…so a few days ago I took a peek. I was blown away by how good this series is. I’m usually on Team Marvel, but I would go so far to say I thought Peacemaker was as good as any of those Marvel series to-date, and it gives me hope for DC to someday be a worthy competitor. I loved it. If you saw the series, I would love to know what you thought. If like me you had no interest in it based on Suicide Squad, I would suggest you give it a look!

    Liked by 1 person

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