Review: James Gunn’s The Suicide Squad Is Hilarious But Ultimately Fails

Written By Mikey Sutton • Editor-in-Chief • Owner

Review James Gunn’s The Suicide Squad Is Hilarious But Ultimately Fails

The following review contains spoilers from James Gunn’s The Suicide Squad.

When I was in grade school, I knew a kid that would swallow paste and eat his boogers.

He wouldn’t admit to doing either act although we saw him do so numerous times.

Regarding the latter, we’d ask, “Was that a booger you just ate?”

“No, it’s not,” he’d always reply.

He had a habit of talking super fast, especially if he was nervous.

Instead of “No, it’s not,” it sounded like, “It’s s’not.”

We always forgot his name.

From that point on, he became S’not.

S’not could’ve been a member of James Gunn’s The Suicide Squad.

He was a misfit to the extreme.

He smelled like rotten fish, had sand in his hair, and an unknown brown substance filled his fingernails. (Well, we didn’t ask what it was.)

But S’not was not a jerk.

Whether he grew up to be one, I don’t know.

Review: James Gunn’s The Suicide Squad Is Hilarious But Ultimately Fails

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The Suicide Squad has a similar ensemble of costumed rejects like Gunn’s version of Guardians of the Galaxy.

The main difference is that the Suicide Squad is brimming with truly unlikable folks.

Some have even killed children.

In the opening scene, Savant (Michael Rooker) slays a bird with one swift throw of a bouncing ball.

The camera lingers on its bloodied carcass.

Immediately, I’m taken out of the movie.

One would expect a filmmaker of Gunn’s visionary talent to have more imagination and subtlety.

If Gunn wanted to make an immediate statement – “This isn’t the MCU, kids!” – he achieved his goal.

However, it’s a cheap shot.

It’s like S’not pulling out a wet one from his nose and shoving it in my face.

Shock antics are expected from adolescent males, but not from innovative directors.

Yes, Gunn’s roots are in Troma Entertainment.

The independent film company has bathed itself in B-movie crassness for decades.

Admittedly, many of those flicks are quite funny, especially in the VHS ’80s.

For the first hour, Gunn lets his Troma freak flag fly.

The unrestrained gore and F-bombs generate non-stop laughter.

It is gallows humor at its most hilarious.

True to its title, many from The Suicide Squad die and in brutal, sometimes ironic fashion like Savant.

Review: James Gunn’s The Suicide Squad Is Hilarious But Ultimately Fails

Review: James Gunn’s The Suicide Squad Is Hilarious But Ultimately Fails

Image: Warner Bros

Of the then-surviving members, Idris Elba’s Bloodsport, Sylvester Stallone’s King Shark, David Dastmalchian’s Polka-Dot Man, and Daniela Melchior’s Ratcatcher 2 are the most consistently engaging.

If only the second half of the movie was as entertaining as them.

Amanda Waller (Viola Davis) sends the Suicide Squad to the island nation of Corto Maltese.

This is where the starfish alien Starro the Conqueror is held, in Jötunheim, a former Nazi laboratory.

Starro is a classic Justice League villain.

I fondly recall reading an early appearance from him in the early ’80s.

It was a reprint from the Silver Age of comics.

In other words, Starro began as pure cheese.

DC Comics in the ’60s, for the most part, indulged in innocuous silliness.

When Gunn provides glimpses of Starro midway through the movie, he hints at an Alien-level sense of creepiness and monstrous weirdness.

By the time Starro is free, he is the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man from Ghostbusters.

He looks like a giant birthday cake.

Anybody who claims that Gunn avoids goofiness in The Suicide Squad is either in denial or is lying.

There’s nothing wrong with that, at least for me.

Review: James Gunn’s The Suicide Squad Is Hilarious But Ultimately Fails


I fully expected Gunn’s gung-ho absurdity in The Suicide Squad.

With that, he does deliver.

But the jokes dry up after an hour or so.

The relentlessly macho posturing of Peacemaker swerves from comical to seriously unpleasant.

While John Cena is perfectly cast, the obnoxiousness of his character began to grate.

Characters from David Ayer’s 2016 Suicide Squad such as Joel Kinnaman’s Rick Flagg and Jai Courtney’s Captain Boomerang take a backseat.

Their participation in this film is confusing.

Is this a sequel or a reboot?

Gunn seems to want both.

In terms of tone, Gunn tries to balance the grit of Suicide Squad with his own nihilistic sense of humor.

Unfortunately, he doesn’t get the balance right.

I absolutely loved writer John Ostrander’s Suicide Squad comics in the late ’80s, but Gunn fails to capture their ’70s-’80s action-movie aesthetic.

Gunn criticized recent superhero fare as boring; sadly, he descends to the same, tired “falling buildings” set pieces that topple some of them.

Review: James Gunn’s The Suicide Squad Is Hilarious But Ultimately Fails

Review: James Gunn’s The Suicide Squad Is Hilarious But Ultimately Fails

Image: Warner Bros

The animal cruelty is unusual.

There’s another scene where birds are burned alive.

You know that meme where there’s a man and woman in bed and she’s wondering, “He’s probably thinking of that other girl.”

The guy, of course, has nerdy visions in his head of toys and such.

Near the end of The Suicide Squad, I found myself struggling with this question: “Does Gunn hate birds?”

Critics praised The Suicide Squad to the heavens.

No, it’s not among the best comic-book films of all time. Not even close. Gunn’s Guardians of the Galaxy is in my top five; this is close to my bottom ten.

Maybe the pandemic has made reviewers so hungry for quirky, colorful theatrical experiences that The Suicide Squad becomes pizza and beer after a week in the Sahara.

Sometime around 1981, my family took me to a distant shopping mall in Arizona.

It was a scorchingly hot summer afternoon, and they got lost in the desert. It took them hours to find it.

By the time they located it, I was starving. I was so hungry I wolfed down this sloppy, greasy cheeseburger from a no-name joint.

To this day, I remember it as the greatest cheeseburger I ever ate.

But it actually probably tasted like snot.

Some people want you to believe The Suicide Squad is a masterpiece.

No, it’s S’not.

Related: The Suicide Squad’s James Gunn Pitched Crazy DC/Marvel Movie

The Suicide Squad’s James Gunn Pitched Crazy DC/Marvel Movie

The Suicide Squad’s James Gunn Pitched Crazy DC/Marvel Movie