"The Suicide Squad" Review: Train Them! Excite them! Arm them!

Joke, joke, kill, kill – that more or less sums up “The Suicide Squad”, the latest installment in the DC Comics franchise. Bright, busy...


Joke, joke, kill, kill – that more or less sums up “The Suicide Squad”, the latest installment in the DC Comics franchise. Bright, busy, and exceedingly self-satisfied, this chapter follows the comic book movie pattern, now with 20 percent more gore. It also has enough cinematic allusions to give critics something to chew on. When you ask writer-director James Gunn how he likes his steak, I’m pretty sure he’s flashing on “Pulp Fiction” and, calling John Travolta at his sweetest, says “Bloody as hell. “

There are things going on, you bet. Most of the time, guns and faceless minions die by truck as top-end recruits – Idris Elba, Margot Robbie, and a fierce Viola Davis – earn their wages with a precisely timed shtick and impeccable professionalism. Robbie and Davis both embrace their stereotypical roles with energy, but neither has enough to do. Elba is pleasantly loose as Bloodsport, an archetype of the reluctant squad leader who, unlike most of the screen-cluttering B-squad, has a personality livening up his badass crust.

A few other familiar headliners appear, including Sylvester Stallone, Pete Davidson, and most notably Taika Waititi, who took the reins of the “Thor” movies for Marvel and whose presence here reads like a flashing joke. In 2018, Gunn – who directed the first two “Guardians of the Galaxy” films – was excommunicated by Marvel in a social media storm. After being called out for making tasteless jokes on Twitter Once Upon a Time, Gunn was fired. There were waved Twitter pitchforks and, from Gunn, a heartfelt self-flagellation; then, as a sign of cancellation of the cultural madness, he was rehired less than a year later.

He was also hired to take charge of a project for the Marvel, DC archnemesis, hence “The Suicide Squad,” a sequel to the Mindless 2016 hit “Suicide Squad. “Gunn’s contribution is more watchable than his predecessor but is still a drag nonetheless. His first”GuardiansThe film was an entertaining surprise that didn’t feel overwhelmed by its importance as a lucrative Marvel property. It was funny and visually ambitious and, for a contemporary comic book movie, had an unusual lightness. By the second “Guardians, “ however, the series already seemed out of date and Gunn seemed content to just turn up the volume.

There is a lot of carnage and pop songs in Gunn’s “Suicide Squad,” as well as Mission Impossible (possible!), Villains and Goodies, the stench of Nazi villainy, and the comedy of a rampaging monster. the size of Godzilla. The film is based on DC characters introduced in 1959, but like countless action films, the obvious touchstone is “The dirty dozen”(1967), especially in its cynicism and its narrative thrust. Aldrich described this kind of movie (he made a couple) as “it’s X number of men trying to get from here to there and come back, or from here to there and survive” – so basically Ulysses and his brothers.

It’s a lasting formula that has worked across a wide range of genres, from westerns to war movies. The appeal is obvious and at least partly rooted in the lingering American myth of exceptionalism. A group of crazy, selfish villains (hardened individualists who have made a criminal mistake) step into the fray and, over the course of the story, become a bunch of ill-united heroic brethren – a community. (Among other things, it’s a flattering metaphor for the cinema itself.) A casual pretty woman breaks the monotony.

That a character like Robbie’s Harley Quinn, with her blood red smile and cutesy psychosis, can now fight in the boys’ club doesn’t change anything. She and the rest of the commercially acceptable Mavericks – with their jokes, quirks, near-magical gifts, storytelling trajectories, and high casualty counts – need to be brought in line. They can sneer as much as they want and bend their unorthodoxies. It doesn’t matter, for even outwardly untamed or, really, just plain unruly humorous, each will serve the greater good, which is the film itself, even as it solidifies and enriches the greater frankness.

Aldrich viewed “The Dirty Dozen” as anti-authoritarian, which appealed to the original ’60s audience, but Americans have long imagined them to be free-thinking mavericks. “The Suicide Squad” dutifully serves up the same evergreen fantasy with fun flourishes, underwhelming stunt choreography, and lots of cartoon cutouts and dice. The violence is the most inventive part of the whole, although it becomes tiresome in its muffled repetition. Like history’s shallow finger-shaker in the face of American wrongs, brutality is both decorative and ritualistic. He keeps the eyeballs fixed and the worlds raging, giving the audience what they expect, no less and no more.

The suicide squad
Rated R for old laughs and lashes of violence. Duration: 2 hours 12 minutes. In theaters and on HBO Max.

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