The Suicide Squad

The Suicide Squad ★★★★½

Two Matt Christmans watched this movie. There was 2021 me, sitting stone-faced in the dark, and the me in a world where The Suicide Squad came out a decade ago. I could see myself, cheek to jowl in a packed opening-night theater, giant, buttery popcorn and trough of Coke at the ready, laughing at every joke, marveling at every clever misdirection and subversion of superhero tropes, exulting that the ultraviolence that's so outrageously over-the-top I don't even really notice the CGI. I would have left the theater amazed by James Gunn's ability to fuse juvenile mayhem with sophisticated commentary on the genre.

Is it really James Gunn's fault that the last ten years happened the way they did? That I would end up watching this movie alone on a streaming service at midnight after a decade of being waterboarded by a corporate superhero machine that systematically hollowed out American cinema? That the deliciously epic bacon of 2011 would taste like ashes in the mouth in 2021? The man spent a decade becoming the world master of an instrument that everyone is tired of hearing. I have to respect the dedication and the craft, even if by now it sounds like the howls of a dying alleycat.