John Murphy’s The Suicide Squad is a disappointingly dull affair, consisting mainly of meandering, emotionally empty electric guitar notes and swathes of moody, unenthusiastic strings that all come pretty much devoid of any noteworthy thematic substance, and so overall don’t amount to much more than a sadly forgettable film score.
A darkly upbeat electric guitar backed by enthusiastic percussion opens So This Is The Famous Suicide Squad, which in two minutes takes time to establish quite a heavy metal-esque tone while also introducing a main theme for the titular group of redeemable villains. Like them, this motif is moody, dramatic, and has a bit of a swagger to it, with a touch of grandiosity and heroism mixed in too. While its not perhaps the most memorable of themes overall, at five notes long the theme fits the characters it’s written for, and does a decent job of setting the not-quite-villainy tone for the movie itself. Approaching The Beach then continues with the established five note underbeat, with the electric guitar then turning rather sinister and rising in intensity until a threatening, near deafening crescendo is reached at the sixty second mark, ending the cue on a dramatically foreboding note. Action then kicks into gear in Mayhem On The Beach, with the established guitar taking centre stage once again though this time in a fast-paced, relentless style, with imposing percussion then helping to set the heavy-metal-esque tone in the background. This continues through until just under two minutes in, where the persistent action then suddenly stops and the orchestra breaks through, with grandiose strings and some loud, almost heroic-sounding vocals taking centre stage for a few loudly emphatic seconds before the track draws to a close. Low, moody brass notes then open Waller’s Deal/Meet The Team, with a light rumble of percussion signalling the arrival of rising strings and increasingly grandiose brass, which then build in volume over the next minute or so, hinting toward later heroism before then fading quietly away.
Harley Gets The Javelin is a rather solemn piece, with quiet, melancholic strings and wistful vocals occupying the majority of its sixty second runtime before Approaching The Guerrilla Camp then briefly switches up into horror territory, with high-pitched strings occupying the foreground before the swaggering electric guitar then returns in the track’s final few seconds for a triumphant finish. A rumble of sinister percussion sets an ominous tone in Project Starfish, with foreboding brass and some rather ghostly electronics emphasizing this mood for two creepily mysterious minutes before the music then simply fades away. A mournful piano then opens Red Flag, with slow vocals and an uncharacteristically solemn guitar emphasizing this new mood together with quiet, ambient electronics, reaching a worryingly sinister and rather short crescendo just as the cue closes out. Some rather 80s-esque electronics then set an intriguingly different atmospheric tone in Interdimensional Virus, evoking an almost Blade Runner-like musical style for two annoyingly short minutes before Ratcatcher’s Story then interjects. This track continues cementing the melancholic mood from earlier cues, with a slow guitar playing a few initially rather depressed-sounding notes which then go on to form a mournful motif for Ratcatcher, one of the new Squad members. Harley Sings then briefly continues this quietly downtrodden guitar-based tone for about a minute or so before the similarly short piece then fades away too.
So far, I must admit I’m finding myself decidedly… underwhelmed with The Suicide Squad so far. The main theme, while stylistically interesting, is a little dull (not to mention underdeveloped at the moment) and the instrumentation while different, is a bit all over the place, and so also lacking in terms of thematic development. The tracks are also just too short (not one has been even three minutes long so far), and they always seem to end right before anything really happens to either develop the score or quite frankly, hold my interest. All-in, you may be noticing a bit of a pattern to the above; the score just isn’t really… doing anything, and to be honest, overall it just isn’t grabbing me all that much. I keep waiting for that one track that will completely prove me wrong and really set the bar here, but so far – no dice.
The thunderous electric guitar for the Squad briefly returns in Breaking Into Jotunheim, kick-starting a ninety second action piece that then fades almost as quickly as it arrived as dark, ominous strings then take over in Dirty Little Secrets, setting a particularly sombre mood overall. This then continues through into the opening minute of Peacemaker…What A Joke, where slowly the strings then start to build, with emphatic brass notes gradually occupying the background until a loud, nearly epic crescendo is reached just as the track then closes out. High-pitched, haunting vocals and a gently melancholic guitar then form the stylistic centrepiece of King Shark And The Clyrax, making for another quietly short atmospheric cue before things then finally start to get interesting in Bombs Go Off. A loud burst of brass swiftly followed by a crash of worrisome percussion opens the piece, grabbing your attention pretty much instantly as the electric guitar then takes centre stage, and action finally starts to get a firm grip on the score. Things then get much darker in the subsequent Suicide Squad V.S. Starro The Conqueror, with a villainous motif for Starro itself emerging on the established electric guitar in a particularly foreboding manner. This then gets several loudly malevolent playthroughs here before the music dramatically quietens, and the cue then ends on a curiously slow and sorrowful note. The Star-Crossed Wake Up and Panic In The Streets then continue the action for a few further minutes, with the former utilising the electric guitar to near deafeningly dramatic effect, and the latter then building to an emphatically ominous strings-based crescendo.
A glimmer of hope finally shines on the score in The Squad Turn Back. Quiet, militaristic drums open the piece, which then gradually rise in both volume and intensity until loud brass notes enter the fray, and the orchestra then starts to build behind it. A few seconds later triumphant vocals then mark the arrival of a powerfully heroic crescendo, which then segues rather seamlessly into the standout and final action setpiece of the score; The Squad Fight Back. Here, in a manner rather reminiscent of the badder elements of the score for Kick-Ass, the electric guitar finally turns loudly, grandiosely epic, overall bringing the action finale to a particularly rousing finish. The theme for the Squad also kinda-sorta returns here too, with a few swelling notes from it playing through towards the end of the piece. Some rather victorious-sounding vocals then form the stylistic backbone of Ratism, with the now very well established electric guitar taking the forefront and the orchestra also rising in the background for three minutes of unusually but enjoyably upbeat ambience. To close out the album proper, Bloodsport’s Deal then brings things back into solemnly atmospheric territory, with some rather sombre strings and low-pitched brass providing a slow, melancholic end.
Overall, John Murphy’s score for The Suicide Squad is an unfortunately dull experience, and I must admit I really struggled with it. It just… doesn’t do anything for me. The musical style is a bit all over the place (one minute it’s a deafeningly loud electric guitar, the next it’s moody strings, then 80s-esque electronics) and the themes are so few and far between that there might as well not be any at all. All of the tracks are also irritatingly short, meaning there’s little time for any stylistic or even thematic development before one cue fades and the next begins. There’s a recurring stylistic idea for the Squad, sure – in the form of a predictably swaggering, upbeat electric guitar, but their actual motif (introduced in opening track So This Is The Famous Suicide Squad) not only barely appears on the album, but is also just kind of… boring, even in the loudly triumphant action finale. Speaking of which however, the final action duo The Squad Turn/Fight Back was the only time where I felt a bit of hope that the score was actually going somewhere developmentally, though their short runtimes and lack of main theme then pretty much killed that idea, despite the rather entertaining musical style.
All-in, I wanted to like The Suicide Squad, I really did – but there’s just nothing of substance to it. There are little moments of musically interesting score dotted here and there, but for the most part it’s just meandering, empty electric guitar notes and swathes of moody, unenthusiastic strings all devoid of noteworthy thematic substance, which overall do not an entertaining film score make. If you’re here looking for something along the lines of Murphy’s iconic Sunshine or 28 Days Later works, basically – you’re going to be disappointed.
Standout Cue: 21. The Squad Fight Back
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One thought on “The Suicide Squad (2021) – Soundtrack Review”
Well, then there’s at least something the original Suicide Squad did better.
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