Suicide Squad

Movie Review by Justin Gauthier

suicide squad movie

DC Entertainment accepted a dicey proposition by bringing writer Adam Glass’ DC comic series Suicide Squad to the big screen. The paradigm-shifting story’s catalyst is Amanda Waller, a morally ambiguous government agent who gathers a black-ops crew of “meta-human” villains and injects nano-bombs into their necks with the promise of a quick death if they do not follow her commands. In the current DC film universe, the supposed death of Superman has left a power vacuum. Waller worries about what next ultra-powered meta-human might be coming down the pike and she sees her unsanctioned band of villains as a necessary evil of the times.

David Ayer’s film adaptation represents a swing for the fences for DC Entertainment and Warner Bros. Studios. For all its hype and polished production values, Suicide Squad is more of a solid single than home run. The baseball metaphor is apropos as viewers must get to know a nine person batting order of baddies most likely unknown to the non-comic book reading public. The audience is even treated to baseball card type introductions to each villain during the first half hour of the film, as the main characters are lesser-known mid-level villains in the DC Universe. Despite being an admirable attempt to familiarize the movie-going public with a slew of new characters, the one-movie-to-introduce-them-all approach was a mind-numbing experience.

In many ways, Suicide Squad reminds me of Marvel Studio’s Guardians of the Galaxy. With Guardians, James Gunn and Marvel Studios succeeded cinematically and financially in introducing and endearing the audience to little-known characters from the Marvel Universe so why wouldn’t DC follow suit? This emulation is not necessarily a bad thing; however, the main difference between the two films is the Guardians were allowed to play and create their own mythos and pathos, whereas the Squad were held hostage under threat of death in order to conform into a monolithic storyline.

Fans of Adam Beach (Saulteaux) were understandably excited to see his name on the cast list for a “superhero film.” Unfortunately, the character he portrays, Slipknot, is barely infamous in the DC Universe for having developed a super strong adhesive that he applies to ropes he uses to climb things and maim or hang his opponents. In addition to this lame “power,” Beach is given an embarrassingly small amount of screen time in the scope of the film. His character is strung along by another character attempting an ill-advised escape. He ends up being a cautionary tale of the potency of the nano-bombs implanted in the necks of the rest of the squad.

As of this writing, the film has set box office records for an August release in defiance of critical panning. Suicide Squad is not a bad movie, but neither is it a great movie. Much like the recent re-imagined Ghostbusters, it’s middle of the road. Instead of blazing a new trail, Ayer and his squad are following in the footsteps of a Marvel studios property that outperforms them across the board.

Menominee Tribal member Justin Eagle Gauthier has been featured in several literary journals. He is currently enrolled in the LoRez MFA program in creative writing studying screenwriting at the Institute of American Indian Arts.