Sigh. Full disclosure: part of the reason I did not enjoy my viewing of The Suicide Squad is that there was a gaggle (flock, posse, senate?) of teenagers sitting one row behind me in the theater. At one point, one of them politely asked if he could sit next to me. I heaved yet another sigh, cleared off my spread of service items from the adjoining seat, and offered it to him. Perhaps he was having trouble with his friends and wanted to get some separation? I have been there before, kid. But, no, after about five minutes (probably less), he got back up and the group continued with the musical chairs they played throughout the film. It may in fact be that I truly am getting old. In any case, I do not understand the stinkin’ point of paying to see a movie and then behaving like a lunatic in the theater?! I spoke to management about them at one point, who in turn spoke to the teenagers, who then spoke some mean things about me rather loudly over the movie. Mentally, I prepared myself for the possibility of a group of teenagers wanting to fight me after the film. Thankfully, they all got up and left a full half hour before it ended. Like the film, there is little point to anything the young do.
Do not bother trying to figure out what is the connection between The Suicide Squad and the other film of a similar title from 2016. Outside of certain characters, the name of the movie, and the utter, maddening randomness of it all, there is no connection, nor do they attempt to explain any of it either. Instead, they give you some new character, Savant (Michael Rooker), and use him to introduce the concept of the title team to the audience. I will not bother giving you the identities of the rest of this first group because most of them die. All we know is that Amanda Waller (Viola Davis) has collected a group of superpowered criminals, implanted explosives in their heads, and forced them to carry out a mission to save the world that will all likely result in their deaths, hence the title. However, this first wave you see is really a diversion for another landing, led by Bloodsport (Idris Elba). Along with him are Peacemaker (John Cena), Ratcatcher 2 (Daniela Melchior), Polka-Dot Man (David Dastmalchian), and King Shark (voiced by Sylvester Stalone). This last, by the way, is a barely sentient, half-man/half-shark (shark head) intent on eating pretty much everything. They are on the island of whatever (some Spanish speaking petty dictatorship island) that, for movie reasons, has a top-secret research base named Jötunheim that houses a giant interstellar starfish called Starro the Conquerer. It enslaves people with smaller versions of itself, which latch on to the faces of its victims and turns them into members of a sort of hive mind. However, I am getting ahead of myself. There are two survivors from the initial wave that is ambushed on the beach. First is the overall team leader, Colonel Rick Flag (Joel Kinnaman). He is found by Bloodsport and company after they wipe out an entire rebel camp where they believe Colonel Flag is being held. Oh yeah, I suppose I should mention that this island is being run by a series of military dictators, and these rebels, Sol Soria (Alice Braga) as their leader, want to overthrow it and make way for free elections. So, there is that whole subplot shoehorned into this film. Feeling bad about their murder spree, Colonel Flag gets his team to agree to help Sol and whoever is left amongst her followers as a distraction for their mission to get into Jötunheim. Meanwhile, the other survivor from the beach, Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie), is being wined and dined by the current dictator, Presidente General Silvio Luna (Juan Diego Botto), something about being an admirer of Harley Quinn, blah, blah, blah. Harley Quinn is soaking up the attention until he begins revealing his evil plan, so she murders him. Luna is immediately replaced by Mayor General Mateo Suarez (Joaquín Cosio), so long live the dictator, I guess. It has very little bearing on the plot. After a brief interrogation where Suarez attempts to get more information out of the deranged Harley Quinn, she goes on her own death spree in breaking out of prison. Everyone then meets back up outside of Jötunheim to complete their mission. In the process, their captive for getting into the facility, Thinker (Peter Capaldi), reveals that the whole thing is secretly being run by the United States. Peacemaker then turns out to be trying to keep the proof of America’s complicity from the public at Waller’s orders, despite the best efforts of the squad. While Colonel Flag dies in the ensuing struggle, Bloodsport manages to obtain the data. That is not the end of their problems, though, as the stories tall Starro bursts free of its containment and begins terrorizing the surrounding area. Despite having completed their objective, this supposed group of bad guys decides to fight Starro and its growing horde of zombified slaves. Boom, blam, pow, they kill Starro.
The Suicide Squad is directed by James Gunn. If you are not familiar with that name, you might be more so with his recent (better) work, the Guardians of the Galaxy films. Knowing this and seeing The Suicide Squad is probably all I need to say to demonstrate how the former pales in comparison to the latter. Still, I will give The Suicide Squad credit for at least being watchable, unlike its 2016 predecessor. Yet, because that one was so bad (and I have avoided saying its name in order to hopefully steer clear of further confusion), it makes me wonder whether or not anyone was actually clamoring for a reboot of this franchise. Or is it a remake? Sequel? Again, I do not think anyone knows, or cares. My issues with the film began right at the start as we begin with a whole set of characters who die. I do not know why they are there, are what they are doing. They are on a beach and getting blown up. I suppose this is meant to introduce the theme of the film, and some of the others like Polka-Dot Man (spoilers) die, too. I also did not get why Waller was so intent on her squad not fighting Starro. She has a panel where all she has to do is push a button and a member of the team’s head will explode, which drives home the concept of how they are expendable. And yet she does not want them to attempt to stop a giant starfish that could enslave the entire world, even though they will probably die in the process? At this point, because this is the DC Cinematic Universe, I thought we were going to get an appearance from Superman or some other hero that would then easily defeat Starro. Nope. Instead, our team of “villains” do the noble thing. This is perhaps best exemplified in the character of Haley Quinn. Clearly, she is familiar with law breaking, and does not seem to mind killing. At the same time, she does not like hearing about children being murdered? And she cares about her teammates wanting to save her? Yeah, real hardened criminal. This film does not have one tone. It has all the tones. This is a problem for me.
You might quibble with my criticisms of The Suicide Squad and say, hey, wait Mr. Catholic-Film-Reviewer, you always say that everyone is worth redemption. That is, of course, true, and one of the foundations of the Catholic Church. However, as Bloodsport says repeatedly, he is not a good guy. Still, outside of him, Peacemaker, and Harley Quinn, the rest seem to be victims of circumstance. Ratcatcher 2, with her ability to control rats, is there because she had been caught stealing to survive. Polka-Dot Man had been abused by his mother (Lynne Ashe), and given superpowers that he does not enjoy and that get him into trouble. And King Shark just wants a friend . . . and to eat, of course. The point I am trying to make here, and you can also put Bloodsport into this category with his relationship with his daughter, Tyla (Storm Reid), is that none of them are the actual villains they are made out to be. An argument could be made that anyone, when put into extraordinary circumstances, much like the Apostles after Jesus’ ascension, are capable of doing incredible things. The instinct for survival can be a blessing and a curse. At the same time, why even bother with the charade that they are somehow evil if we never see them do truly evil things? I am guessing it is simply marketing, and that is its own kind of wrong.
While I will admit to some improvement for The Suicide Squad over its predecessor, I would still not recommend it. Blood and guts, cursing, a needless sex scene (though fully clothed), these are all things that are part of a random mess of a movie. Then again, if you can see it in a theater sans teenagers, maybe you will enjoy it more.