Skip to main content

Davis Journal

The Movie Guru: ‘The Suicide Squad’ mixes darkness and delight

Aug 06, 2021 10:53AM ● By Jenniffer Wardell

When it comes to recommending movies, knowing the audience’s taste is so important.

There are plenty of movies out there that are well made and entertaining, but are also such a distinct flavor that some people just won’t like them. If you don’t like spicy food, you won’t want to eat even the best made jalapeño poppers. If you don’t like wackiness and gore mixed together, you won’t enjoy “The Suicide Squad.”

If that sounds like your cup of tea, however, or at least something you’re willing to try, then James Gunn's latest is definitely worth the wait. The movie, which premieres this Friday in theaters and on HBO Max, is a wild ride that veers from humor to darkness and back again. The action is great, the characters are at their best, and the script offers both a ton of laughs and serious thoughts on some pretty intense issues. Of course, there’s also a ton of gore and a few moments that might be genuinely traumatizing.

For those not familiar with the universe, “The Suicide Squad” features a group of minor villains who get let out of prison to do black ops missions for a woman named Amanda Waller. If they go off mission, she sets off a bomb she has implanted in their heads (which she always does at least once during a movie). They’re sent out to defeat a great evil of some kind, and mayhem ensues.

For anyone who watched the 2016 movie, rest assured that this one is far better. Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie) has a particularly excellent storyline, though Bloodshot (Idris Elba) and Ratcatcher II (Daniela Melchior) both have some great moments as well. You’ll laugh, you’ll cheer, and you might even get a little bit emotional. James Gunn clearly respects these characters, and it shines through onscreen. Even Polka-Dot Man (David Dastmalchian), finally gets to be more than a long-standing DC joke.

Of course, he’s also a horror writer. No one is safe, and at certain points in the movie the carnage can get extreme. There’s also some bird deaths that might be pretty traumatic to some audience members, even though they’re less visibly gory. There’s also some pretty heavy plot points that end up getting explored, and despite the violence and the laughs there’s really not a comforting resolution to any of them. As most of us know, the things people do can be a lot more horrifying than even the scariest monster or alien. 

Is it a bad thing to show any of that onscreen? Not necessarily, especially when you do as good a job at putting it together as James Gunn has. But this is also not a movie that’s going to be everyone’s cup of tea.

There’s nothing wrong with that, either.

Jenniffer Wardell is an award-winning movie critic and member of the Utah Film Critics Association. Find her on Twitter at @wardellwriter or drop her a line at [email protected]  

Credit for photo ©Warner Brothers

The Suicide Squad

Rated R for strong violence and gore, language throughout, some sexual references, drug use and brief graphic nudity

Written and directed by James Gunn

Starring Viola Davis, Idris Elba, Margot Robbie, Joel Kinnaman, John Cena, Daniela Melchior, David Dastmalchian, Michael Rooker, and more

Grade: Three and a half stars