The Suicide Squad (2021)

“Nothing like a bloodbath to start the day.”

Funny until it becomes crass and gross and vulgar, and action-packed to the point of being overloaded with bloods and guts in the perverse and purgative opening sequence, James Gunn’s The Suicide Squad wants to be a campy backyard horror story fueled by popcorn and soda and a few too many shocks of caffeine, but the flat picture doesn’t seem to know which audience it’s selling its soul to either. Everything is forced and nothing is real. The Suicide Squad has no purpose, no heart, and packs too much pulp for its own good. I don’t know why they made it. This is a pointless endeavor, and the whole thing just gave me the jitters. To call it uneven and underwhelming is an understatement.

I want to rattle off character names and what they do and why they are even part of the titular team, but I simply can’t. Some of them are sharpshooters, one’s a massive shark, another literally expels polka dot bingo coins while envisioning his abusive mother in every shape and form. It’s a comic book movie through and through, and the problem is that the unyielding tone never relaxes or matches up with the actual events playing out on screen. It’s a creative movie, but also one that’s unforgivingly preposterous. I hate to say that I absolutely loathed this film from start to finish. It’s a bold and brash menagerie lacking any sort of meaning beyond a childish “look what I can do” Mad TV attitude. Less can and should be more.

The third act is so incredibly pointless here. The characters hardly grow or change, all while the lazy antagonist and a stupid starfish monster consumes everything in sight (sounds pretty familiar to Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, don’t you think?). The opening act is a carefully picked and curated erasure of David Ayer’s 2016 film, the middle is fairly innocuous, and the ending just makes little to no sense whatsoever. The Suicide Squad looks handsome on the surface with a few interesting shot compositions, but there’s no beating heart or brain. It’s like watching a colorfully wrapped Bugatti driving around on cruise control with no one behind the wheel.

I remember renting and watching James Gunn’s 2010 film Super, a glorified exploitation picture about a lone wolf vigilante wielding a wrench that matches his homemade suit. It’s a tasteless movie about righting wrongs, rewriting your resume, and figuring out who you are by being somebody else. I hated just about every second of it, and The Suicide Squad brought back that same feeling with a ballooned and wasted budget. David Ayer’s take was chopped to pieces on the cutting room floor and is practically incoherent. What Gunn put together at least flows from start to finish, but it’s only marginally better, and I’d dare say is more careless about the livelihood of the characters. I haven’t been more let down this year. Neurotic and batshit crazy behavior is only endearing when we care about the people behaving that way, and besides Margot Robbie’s continued dedication to Harley Quinn, I hardly bought a single frame of this one. It’s infuriatingly shallow.

“I’m sorry it’s so flamboyant.”

Rating: 1.5 out of 5

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