Review: James Gunn’s ‘The Suicide Squad’ Perfectly Combines Blood, Humor, & Heart

James Gunn’s The Suicide Squad immediately dives into intense insanity, and it never stops.

Half of the characters had died brutal and bloody deaths within ten minutes, proving James Gunn was not messing around when he said not to get too attached to anyone. But that is not all this film provides – in between these deaths is heart, emotion, and a whole lot of laughs.

James Gunn's The Suicide Squad Perfectly Combines Blood, Humor, & Heart

The Suicide Squad
(L-r) JOEL KINNAMAN as Colonel Rick Flag, ALICE BRAGA as Sol Soria, DANIELA MELCHIOR as Ratcatcher 2, KING SHARK, IDRIS ELBA as Bloodsport and JOHN CENA as Peacemaker in Warner Bros. Pictures’ superhero action adventure “THE SUICIDE SQUAD,” a Warner Bros. Pictures release.

For viewers who are familiar with James Gunn’s work like Slither, Super, and of course the two Guardians of the Galaxy films, it is very obvious that he is fully embracing these off the wall and inherently evil characters while at the same time pushing that R rating as hard as he can. He isn’t the only one that clearly had a good time with this film, as it can be seen in every single actor’s expression as they face deadly threats.

As per usual with Gunn’s films, the soundtrack is absolutely amazing. Each and every song is there for a reason and escalates that particular moment in the movie to a new level. The soundtrack itself could arguably be considered its own character in the movie, or at the very least, a part of the story.

This version of the Suicide Squad is much more true to the comic books and works so much better than the 2016 version. That version is disjointed, has no character development, and the humor seldom delivers. While James Gunn certainly has a dark sense of humor, which fans of his know, he packs it all in The Suicide Squad in a way that seems to always deliver – at least for the most part.

The Suicide Squad
MARGOT ROBBIE as Harley Quinn in Warner Bros. Pictures’ superhero action adventure “THE SUICIDE SQUAD,” a Warner Bros. Pictures release.

Even the characters that are killed off early on seem to have their moment. Pete Davidson’s Blackguard joking around with explosives, Michael Rooker’s Savant killing a bird with a handball, and Flula Borg’s Javelin flirting with Harley Quinn are just a few examples. As for the characters that stick around longer are each given a back story that makes viewers actually care for them and root for them, despite the fact that they are villains.

This is easily the best DCEU version of Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie) that fans have gotten. She is very clearly the Harley from Amanda Conner and Jimmy Palmiotti’s comic book run. Robbie was born to play Harley, which she has proven repeatedly by perfectly capturing her crazy and over-the-top attitude. However, Gunn’s writing and direction in The Suicide Squad take her to a whole new level.

Her monologue to Luna as he lays dying in front of her shows that she is a whole new and independent woman after her split from Joker. Sure, he did a number on her, but she isn’t going to let that bring her down. She will do what she thinks is the right thing, even if it involves cold-blooded murder. Viewers get to see her go full Harley in an epic fight scene where cartoon birds and flowers join the blood of her victims. She is insane, but she is also a sweetheart.

Harley wants people to care about her more than anything in the world, and when she realizes that the team was going to break in and save her, she even offers to go back inside and let them do it. This is the Harley fans know and love, so a big thank you, James Gunn, for giving her to us.

The Suicide Squad
(L-r) IDRIS ELBA as Bloodsport and KING SHARK in Warner Bros. Pictures’ superhero action adventure “THE SUICIDE SQUAD,” a Warner Bros. Pictures release.

The dynamic between Peacemaker (John Cena) and Bloodsport (Idris Elba) is one of the standout relationships in The Suicide Squad. These two are constantly trying to one-up each other, leading to a lot of hilarious moments. Take their rampage through the jungle, for instance – each death becomes more brutal than the last. Then it all comes together in a hilarious realization that they were killing off the rebel group that was there to help them.

Bloodsport is a part of another touching relationship in the film, which is between him and Ratcatcher 2 (Daniela Melchior). He is even participating in the mission to help his daughter, and Ratcatcher 2 is only there because of her relationship with her late father. When she tells her backstory, it is shown as a reflection in the bus window, just one of the many amazing cinematic shots Gunn gives viewers.

The Suicide Squad
(L-r) DANIELA MELCHIOR as Ratcatcher 2 and IDRIS ELBA as Bloodsport in Warner Bros. Pictures’ superhero action adventure “THE SUICIDE SQUAD,” a Warner Bros. Pictures release.

It is impossible not to fall in love with Ratcatcher 2, who is clearly the movie's heart. She controls rats, but Sebastian, the rat, is always by her side. He is sweet and caring, just like her. The moment where she asks Kind Shark if they can be his friends is extremely touching. It is clear that no one has ever treated him that way, and he appreciates it.

Speaking of King Shark, he delivers some of the best one-liners in the film. He is a bit on the dull side but has the best intentions for a supervillain anyway. Viewers can’t help but feel bad for him when he realizes he will be unable to go undercover with everyone else due to his appearance, which most definitely cannot be helped with a fake mustache.

Polka Dot Man also has an emotional arc in the film. Sure, he has an extremely weird superpower of throwing polka dots at people, but he was tortured by his mother. So now he sees her everywhere, and while it may get repetitive when shown to the viewers, it all pays off in the end when we see a giant version of her destroying the city. This is actually Starro, of course, who kills him moments later. Making his death one of the most painful of them all, because again, James made us actually care about him.

The Suicide Squad
(L-r) KING SHARK, DANIELA MELCHIOR as Ratcatcher 2, IDRIS ELBA as Bloodsport, MARGOT ROBBIE as Harley Quinn and DAVID DASTMALCHIAN as Polka-Dot Man in Warner Bros. Pictures’ superhero action adventure “THE SUICIDE SQUAD,” a Warner Bros. Pictures release.

Leave it to James Gunn to take one of the most terrifying yet strange DC Comic Book characters and make them a villain. Yes, we are talking about Starro the Conqueror. Although not in the movie very long, a giant alien starfish truly delivers fear and heart while on-screen. His dying words are that he was happy floating in space and looking at the stars. Audiences probably never thought they would feel bad for this creature, but James Gunn ensures that we all do – at least a little bit.

The Suicide Squad is rated R for violence, language, and nudity – and it certainly deserves that rating. It is filled with blood, gore, bad words, and, yes, frontal nudity. But thanks to characters like Ratcatcher 2 and Bloodsport, this one has a whole lot of heart as well. Who would have thought there would be moments where tears are shed during a comic book movie about supervillains fighting a giant starfish?

The Suicide Squad is in theaters and available on the ad-free version of HBO Max now!

The Suicide Squad


'The Suicide Squad' Perfectly Combines Blood, Humor, & Heart


Tessa Smith owns and is a Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer-approved Film and TV Critic and a huge geek. Tessa has been in the Entertainment writing business for almost ten years and is a member of several Critics associations including the Critics Choice Association and the Greater Western New York Film Critics Association. She grew up watching movies, playing video games, and reading comic books -- and still loves all of those things. She proudly lets her geek flag fly and spreads the word that there is nothing wrong with being a geek.