Reviewed by: Curtis McParland
Using evil to battle greater evil
Sorcery in the Bible
Will Smith … Floyd Lawton / Deadshot
Margot Robbie … Dr. Harleen F. Quinzel / Harley Quinn
Ben Affleck … Bruce Wayne / Batman
Cara Delevingne … June Moone / Enchantress
Jared Leto … The Joker
Scott Eastwood … Lieutenant GQ Edwards
Jai Courtney … Captain Boomerang
Joel Kinnaman … Rick Flag
Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje … Waylon Jones / Killer Croc
Viola Davis … Amanda Waller
Karen Fukuhara … Tatsu Yamashiro / Katana
Jay Hernandez … Chato Santana / El Diablo
Common … Monster T
Ike Barinholtz … Griggs
Adam Beach … Christopher Weiss / Slipknot
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|Director||David Ayer—“Fury” (2014), “End of Watch” (2012)|
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|Distributor||Warner Bros. Pictures, a Warner Bros. Entertainment Company|
Sequel: “Birds of Prey: And the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn” (2020)
What happens when the government decides to pull together a group of some of the most dangerous super-villains in the world in order to save it? That’s one squad you wouldn’t want to mess with: the Suicide Squad. “Suicide Squad” brings together some iconic DC comic book villains to the big screen, in addition to some unfamiliar faces. With the Joker (Jared Leto), Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie), and Deadshot (Will Smith) (just to name a few), the DC cinematic universe takes on its most ambitious project yet with director David Ayer (“Fury” and “End of Watch”) at the helm.
The story here is pretty straight forward. In order to fight fire with fire (literally), intelligence operative Amanda Waller (Viola Davis) proposes that a team of highly notorious, currently imprisoned criminals be formed in order to assist the U.S. Government with ridiculously high-risk missions. Of course (and it’s only fair), some bargaining has to be made with this group of misfits, including getting a good chunk of jail time shaved off of their sentences. As Waller forms her squad, though, she greatly underestimates the supernatural threat of the Enchantress (Cara Delevingne), nor does she realize how persistent the Joker will be in rescuing his beloved Harley Quinn from her grip. The group realizes the great danger they are all about to face, but they’re all still willing to give it a shot to not only help save their own lives, but the entire world as we know it.
“Suicide Squad” has a good concept going for it and may remind some comic book fans of Marvel’s “Guardians of the Galaxy.” However, this story is completely different and contains few similarities (thank goodness). The film certainly has its faults, though, as its great characters are poorly developed, and its plot is very, very thin. The story is easy to follow, but David Ayer did not do a good job at getting his audience interested in the characters. Thankfully, “Suicide Squad” doesn’t rely heavily on the action nor do the action sequences feel unneeded or drawn out. The writing and direction here are just weak, in general, and it is not nearly engaging as it should be. The performances are the film’s saving grace, in addition to some sleek editing and cinematography. “Suicide Squad” is messy, but it certainly isn’t a hot mess like “Batman v. Superman” from earlier this year.
“Suicide Squad” has much more than just cinematic problems, though. On a number of occasions, we see suggestive images, including a couple of female characters wearing next to nothing. Harley Quinn wears a tight t-shirt and super short-shorts throughout most of the film. Both characters and the camera ogle her figure a few times, and Enchantress wears a very revealing outfit throughout most of the film. She sometimes kisses mortals (both male and female) on the lips, in order to possess them. An unmarried couple are briefly seen in bed together, fully clothed, and on two separate occasions two different women are quickly seen in their underwear. One scene takes place in a club where some suggestive dancing and pole dancers are seen. There isn’t complete nudity, but dancers do wear tight, revealing outfits. A female character makes a pass at a friend of her boyfriend’s and also suggestively licks a jail cell bar while flirting with a guard. A character’s wife subtly suggests to her husband she wants sex, one other gets her rear slapped, and there’s mention of sleeping with a witch. Somebody reads a book with a sensual cover and another watches a suggestive beach video. Some characters share passionate kisses, and one character asks “What? Do I have a hickey or something?” There are a couple of crude references to male genitalia. A female character says that she can sleep with whoever she wants. The Joker and Harley Quinn appear to be in a twisted romantic-abusive relationship.
There is quite a bit of language in “Suicide Squad,” as we hear about 25 s-words and nearly another 20 combined uses of obscenities and vulgarities, including h*ll, b**ch, d**n, a**, and cr*p. A couple of mild insults like “scum bag” and “dumb*ss” pop up, and the words “screwed” and “fricking” are interjected a couple of times, as well. In some background music, one f-word can be picked up from the lyrics, and one other use is partially said/muffled by a character. God’s name is abused about a half-dozen times (twice paired with d**n) and Jesus’ name is abused once or twice. The insult/putdown “p**sy” is said twice, and “d**khead” is uttered once.
The violence is not graphic, mostly bloodless, and is very comic book-like in nature. Still, it is quite heavy, with loads of frenetic gunfire, including one character getting shot in the head (no blood) and plenty of explosions and destruction. Helicopter’s crash and explode, characters get into intense weapon battles, and tons of punches and kicks are thrown. One character gets punched under water with some blood, and a few characters get stabbed (no blood). As characters become possessed by Enchantress, they morph into bizarre, yet faceless looking rock/alien creatures. During battle sequences, these characters lose heads and limbs, get sliced in half, and get pummeled and shredded apart by the squad. Although intense, it is very cartoon-like. A character is quickly impaled by a monster’s robotic tentacle, and a few more are briefly shown being flamed by a squad member. Another creature crashes into a subway train.
While in prison, characters are tied down and beat up by staff and are later injected in the neck with pellets so they can be tracked by the government. The unspeakable conditions these characters live in and the treatment they receive are quite inhumane and may be bothersome viewers. After crashing into a body of water, a character leaves his significant other for dead. The same character also falls into a pool full of chemicals. The Joker is seen in a room filled with many different types of weapons. One character is briefly tortured by the Joker at a correctional facility. Fully conscious, she gets strapped down, and he places an electroconvulsive therapy device to her head (this therapeutic procedure is typically done under general anesthesia). “No,” he says. “I’m not gonna kill you. I’m just going to hurt you. Really, really bad.” We briefly see her reaction as impact is made, but the scene quickly cuts away. The behavior itself is much more disturbing than the depiction of the physical act. In a separate scene, we see a hospital patient in a coma connected to multiple medical tubes.
In addition, a witch is missing her heart and seeks to get it back. This plays a main part in the film, and the heart gets a little screen time. Although not graphic and quite fake looking (it looks like a green rock), characters stab at the heart a couple times, and it is later briefly seen on two separate occasions being removed from a body and later entering one (no blood). Not much is seen in either scene, nor is it graphic. *Mild Spoiler* The heart is later crushed in someone’s hands and disintegrates like a rock. *End Spoiler*. A few corpses are quickly seen, and one hangs upside down next to a building (not graphic). There is no drug content nor obvious smoking in the film. Alcohol content is limited to a couple of scenes where some hard liquor is consumed. Clubbing and gambling are seen in a scene or two.
Walking into “Suicide Squad,” I expected a comic book film with the typical baddies. While typical bad guys are definitely in the film, I was very surprised at the strong, dark supernatural theme. From Harley Quinn to Killer Croc, the audience is given a good dose of average bad guy fanfare. However, the Suicide Squad themselves really aren’t the enemies in the film. Enchantress and her evil army are. Enchantress is a witch who possesses the body of June Moon. One day, while exploring a cave, June accidentally disturbed an ancient relic and became possessed by the spirit contained within it. Enchantress is a very dark character, and, although there is no mention of demonic possession or evil spirits, it is obviously present in this film. As she continues to add mortals to her army, she demands that characters bow down and serve her. There is also a reference made to someone’s soul being trapped inside a sword.
Many tend to take the darker themes in comic book films quite lightly, but this is certainly one major theme that should be taken seriously by audiences. “Suicide Squad” contains quite a bit of dark supernatural warfare, and the messages shared in the film are troubling. Sure, witchcraft is still viewed as a form of evil, but, at the same time, it is taken rather lightly, as the main characters see it as just another day in the life of being a hero. “Suicide Squad” may be a work of fiction, but it still shares that fallible human beings can defeat even the darkest of enemies. I, myself, most certainly disagree with this problematic message.
“Do not turn to mediums or necromancers; do not seek them out, and so make yourselves unclean by them: I am the LORD your God. —Leviticus 19:31 (ESV)
Although the witchcraft in “Suicide Squad” is not displayed in a positive light, the overall dark, spiritual tone of the film should be enough of a red flag for Christian audiences and parents with young children. I did like the fact that Amanda Waller wanted to use this group of bad guys for good, but even Waller’s character is still corrupt, as she constantly threatens the squad and more or less acts as a harsh dictator. A character lies to his daughter in order to cover up another lie. However, his daughter knows that he’s lying and tells him that she still loves him anyway. Another positive moment happens when Waller tries to recruit one of the bad guys, and he tells her that he does not want to hurt anyone anymore because of what he did in the past. One character tells another that he isn’t judging him. “I make a lot of mistakes, too,” he says. A handful of other spiritual references are made, including a nod at Evolution, mention of someone “Raining down like the Holy Ghost,” and someone asking another if she is the Devil. “Maybe,” she responds. As Waller appears on a screen, a character quips, “Behold the voice of God.” Somebody else mentions that the next big event that happens will be like a chapter in the Bible.
Sadly, “Suicide Squad” does not condone this message from the book of Romans. Although using bad guys for good might be a message to give a thumbs up to, the majority of the messages contained within “Suicide Squad” are nothing short of problematic, as there is disturbing violent behavior, suggestive material, smatterings of profanity, and very dark spiritual themes. Coming out of Hollywood, it does not surprise me one bit that not even one character would at least acknowledge the existence of God and look toward a Savior for safety, peace, and redemption.
And that name mentioned above is no other than the mighty name of Jesus. As the summer movie season comes to a close, you may want to avoid “Suicide Squad” and try to find something much more family-friendly to see in the cinema before the kids head back to school. I strongly recommend that all audiences keep away from this film. Even for the mature Christian, this shouldn’t be a film that should be seen strictly for entertainment purposes. If anything, it could be viewed as an example of the steep moral decline of superhero films and how more and more dark spiritual themes are being tossed into the story for no good reason. “Suicide Squad” is a bit of an eye-opener in terms of how Hollywood and the entire cinematic comic book world can weave incredibly dark, supernatural themes into the latest action-packed blockbusters. We can still applaud our heroes (and even anti-heroes) for their heroic deeds without witnessing such dark spiritual themes in some of our favorite stories. If only Hollywood would fully understand that.
Violence: Heavy to extreme / Profanity: Heavy / Sex/Nudity: Heavy
See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.