The Suicide Squad at the El Royale

Free-spirited psychopaths? Or stylized empowerment?

While I’m generally not a fan of superhero noir movies, The Suicide Squad at the El Royale defied all my expectations. It’s an original, propulsive film with a well-constructed plot, just the right amount of over-the-top graphic violence, and a keen awareness of the tropes of the genre (and how to break them for maximum comic effect).

The film takes place at the El Royale hotel, where a group of super-powered convicts are forced into uncovering a secret government plot. Understandably, rivalries form and tensions run high as the crew splits up and goes about their mission. But with each confrontation, they begin to learn the darker truth about the El Royale, and realize that they’ll need to work together in order to take down a common enemy.

It’s not often that a shark-like character ends up being so likeable

Arguably, the film’s greatest strength is its characters. Every cast member is fleshed out, with unique personalities, troubled backstories, and memorable moments. Nobody is what they seem at first glance, and even the most troubled characters turn out to be profoundly relatable as we get to know them.

Killing off characters in the first five minutes? Talk about a bait and switch!

There’s also the stunning production design, which is nothing short of iconic. The set pieces, costumes, lighting, sound, practical effects… they’re all top notch. And the soundtrack is equally impressive, with just the right amount of classic hits, all of which actually match the tone of each scene (looking at you, Cruella).

Chris Hemsworth has a blast as the final ‘boss’

Admittedly, even for a movie this over-the-top, the antagonist seems a bit out of left field. But it makes the third act all the more memorable, and manages to wrap up the story in a way that’s predictable yet satisfying.

In short, I’d highly recommend seeing the film. It’s a zany send-up of what tends to be an otherwise bleak, depressing genre. And in an era dominated by uninspired franchises, it’s refreshing to see a director given free rein in pursuing his artistic vision. Plus it’s just a lot of fun. What more can you ask for?