10 Things Parents Should Know About ‘Suicide Squad’

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c. DC Entertainment
c. DC Entertainment

1. What is it about?

It’s all in the name, really. Amanda Waller, on behalf of supra-governmental organization A.R.G.U.S., coerces a gang of vicious criminals (Deadshot, Harley Quinn, El Diablo, Killer Croc, Slipknot) to carry out an impossible mission by implanting nanobombs in their heads and threatening to blow said heads off if said criminals don’t comply. Waller’s justification for Task Force X is the danger of the next Superman-level metahuman to grace humanity with his presence being foe rather than friend. Leading the team is Rick Flagg, who takes command less than willingly, and also with them is Katana, a hero of dubious sanity which makes her as unpredictable as the criminals. Things, of course, go horribly, horribly awry, due in part to a miscalculation by Waller and, in part, to a really, really angry Joker.

2. Where does Suicide Squad fit into the DC Movieverse?

Suicide Squad picks up pretty much where Bats v. Supes left off and closes before the Justice League is formed. Superman is “dead,” Batman is operating in Gotham and plays a small role in getting the Squad ball rolling, and Flash also makes a short appearance in uniform. (I wish there had been more of him. Ezra Miller is just too adorkable.)

3. What is it rated? Why?

Suicide Squad is rated PG-13 for violence and a preponderance of… booty shorts and that which is contained therein. Or not contained, as the case may be. There’s a little bit of language but it isn’t as liberally sprinkled as I would have anticipated.

That said, in my opinion, Suicide Squad is a hard PG-13 and would be more appropriate as an R. Not because of the physical violence which, while plentiful and gratuitous, isn’t particularly graphic or because of the language. Not even based on the booty shorts. I think the movie should have been rated R because of the psychological violence wrought on several of the characters by those in positions of power, the terror inherent in the relationship between Harley and the Joker, and due to the mere presence of the Joker. I don’t know what movie the critics who complained about Jared Leto watched but he is utterly terrifying, full stop, and I felt his menace even when he wasn’t actually present. Younger children will be terrorized by him, as will a lot of older kids; I was scared and I knew what I was getting into. If you do decide to take a teenager be prepared, either before or after watching, to have a very frank discussion about abusive relationships; if that’s something you’re not comfortable or able to do, or if the child/teen has experienced abuse him/herself, I would strongly urge you to skip this one.

4. Will I like it?

This is the first live-action DC movie I’ve enjoyed since the initiation of Snyder’s Murderverse with Man of Steel. If you’re a fan of the Suicide Squad comic in its various incarnations, I think you’ll feel you’ve been well served by David Ayers. If you like big-budget action with ludicrous premises, Suicide Squad will be two hours well spent. The film is incredibly well cast and you can tell that the actors had a lot of fun with the crazy and embraced it fully. The nods to other parts of the DCU are subtle and nicely sprinkled about. Unlike its predecessors, this is a DC movie that is comfortable being what it is without any pretensions of being anything else.

You will, however, have to suspend all of your disbelief to find the twisted fun in this flick; if that’s something you don’t enjoy, I’d recommend a pass.

5. Will the kids like it?

Maybe older kids? As I said above, the psychological terror embodied in the Joker, and to some extent in Waller, was disturbing for me and I was prepared. If you think kids don’t notice stuff like that, my daughter, who was three at the time, watched both The Avengers and Captain America: The First Avenger with me on a flight; she thought Red Skull was hilarious but she was absolutely terrified of Loki from the moment he appeared to confront Hawkeye. Suicide’s Squad‘s monsters are pretty scary, a lot of things jump out of dark corners and the water at various times, and there are a lot of loud, bright explosions. I’d keep more sensitive teenagers, folks with sensory processing disorders, and anyone who may be triggered by abuse scenarios away from this one.

6. Is it worth seeing in IMAX or 3D?

Unfortunately, I can’t answer this one from experience; my husband has a degenerative eye condition that affects his depth perception, so he can’t see 3D effects and loses parts of movies on an IMAX screen. We saw it in plain old 2D, though we did spring for the nice seats. That said, I can extrapolate to some extent and I would put money on some of the effects, especially those accentuating the final, big battle scene would look boss in IMAX and/or 3D. If the extra cost is worth 20 really sweet minutes to you, then go for it; we found the normal-vision perfectly acceptable.

7. How are the effects?

Awesome. The monsters look like actual monsters and there’s a thing they do with El Diablo… I don’t want to spoil it, but trust me, it’s rad. The Enchantress’ magic was a little overdone but it was pretty. What really impressed me, though, was the skill of the makeup artists; from the delicate scars on Katana’s face to Killer Croc’s prosthetics, they nailed everything. Wardrobe was also fantastic but, for real, those shorts… I don’t know how Margo Robbie even walked in those things, never mind the boots.

8. When is a good time for a pee break?

If you know the Suicide Squad members’ backstories, you can probably go anytime during the first third of the movie, though if you want Joker scenes, don’t leave during Harley’s bits. The later break point would be during the bar scene, though if you want the details on El Diablo, go at the beginning of that scene and go quickly.

9. What about the critics’ complaints?

I’m not going to say Suicide Squad is perfect. There are some weird cuts and a few places where things were clearly shuffled at the last minute. A lot of the funny stuff from the various trailer didn’t make it into the movie, which was a bit disappointing. There are a couple of plot holes and some places where things don’t make complete sense but, honestly, I’m willing to chalk that up to, “It’s Suicide Squad.” I did read a couple articles that felt the backstory recaps at the front third of the movie were unnecessary; I disagree. A lot of people aren’t familiar with the Squad characters, who were dredged up from the B, C, and D lists DC keeps… wherever they keep those things and have only become moderately well known since the inception of  Task Force X (Harley Quinn was an even later edition, first appearing in Batman: The Animated Series from the ’90s). If you know the backstories then you have time to enjoy the cute little easter eggs and jokes (one of Deadshot’s weapons’ proficiencies is “potato,” for example). There is definitely  change in tone once the Squad moves out and the bridge could definitely have been smoother, but I was having enough fun that, while I noticed, it didn’t bother me. Ayers and the writers even made room for a little bit of character development, especially for Deadshot, El Diablo, and Flagg, all of which was well-placed and integrated. Still, other critics were disappointed that Suicide Squad was more Deadshot’s story than Harley’s; I felt it was pretty evenly divided and his development allowed them to form a very unlikely and yet somehow entirely believable friendship.

10. Is there a post-credits scene?

Yup. If you’re an Amanda Waller fan, you’ll be very, very pleased.

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