Suicide Squad’s redeemable sociopaths make the mayhem enjoyable

The plot of the James Gunn’s 2021 version of the movie Suicide Squad is thin. Surprisingly, the veneer doesn’t prevent the movie from being a fun, inventive, and rollicking action movie with real weight behind its main characters. Moreover, unlike previous versions of the DC comics’ antiheroes, audiences will find themselves rooting for these redeemable sociopaths. 

Redeemable psychopaths

Gunn doesn’t just rely on computer generated gimmickry – although the movie has plenty of it – to engage audiences. Rather, he and his team use a variety of cinematic techniques to keep audiences invested. The story, for example, is told in discontinuous time. This approach audiences to see how personalities and relationships develop. It also allows the movie to keep forward momentum without losing coherence.  

While each character has a deep, sociopathic character flaw, they retain a humanity that has been missing in previous films. None of the characters are one dimensional. Each has a redeeming human characteristic that makes them relatable. Bloodsport (Idris Elba) cares about his daughter. Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie) really is looking for romantic love. Peacemaker (John Cena) really wants to do the right thing for his country. Ratcatcher 2 (Daniela Melchior) really does identify with the most marginalized, hated classes who society discards. King Shark (voice of Sylvester Stalone) really wants friends. 

Their thin but endearing qualities become all the more relatable when the Suicide Squad team is put up against the evil non-superhero humans. We find ourselves rooting for the characters even when they make unconscionable mistakes, or are misled by humans with diabolical plans. These redeeming qualities allow them to bond with each other at a core level. Over the course of the movie, we believe they become a team – a real squad. 

Visually arresting special effects

Gunn and his filmmaking team use a full pallet of options for using their CGI special effects as well. Audiences will be treated to the comic gore of people being sliced, diced, and otherwise killed as well as grand panoramic cityscapes and underwater seascapes. The body count is ridiculously high as the corpses pile up in comical fashion. The special effects are used to create moods, tension, and bizarre juxtapositions that can be quite inventive. 

Alas, going into too much detail risks revealing all too much for a movie with such a thin plot. Suffice it to say, the Suicide Squad thinks they are going on a heroic mission to save the world against evil-doers who are harnessing alien technology. The movie’s inability to take seriously the Suicide Squad’s objective seriously is part of the fun. 

Suicide Squad is an R-rated, rollicking good time

Audiences should go into James Gunn’s Suicide Squad recognizing the plot, storyline, and action is crafted with tongue firmly planted in cheek. The ridiculous levels of violence and chaos, combined with the quirky psycho paths that make up the squad, make for a highly entertaining movie – for adults. 

Suicide is an R rated movie for a reason. It’s also a lot of fun.  

Author: SR Staley
SR Staley has one more than 11 literary awards for his fiction and nonfiction writing. He is on the full-time faculty of the College and Social Sciences and Public Policy at Florida State University as well as a film critic and research fellow at the Independent Institute in Oakland, California. His award-winning Pirate of Panther Bay series ( has won awards in historical fiction, mainstream & literary fiction, young adult fiction, and reached the finals in women's fiction. His most recent book is "The Beatles and Economics: Entrepreneurship, Innovation, and the Making of a Cultural Revolution" due out in April 2020 (Routledge).