SPOILER WARNING: The following article contains spoilers for The Suicide Squad**. If you have yet to see James Gunn’s epic DC movie, we strongly recommend giving it a watch before reading any further.**
Over the years, James Gunn has built up a reputation on finding inventive ways to add popular and sometimes forgotten songs to his movies. He famously did this with Guardians of the Galaxy and Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, which had their fair share of memorable music moments, and no surprise here, but he’s done it once again with The Suicide Squad soundtrack. There is something about the way Gunn uses songs by artists like Johnny Cash, The Pixies, and The Jim Carroll Band to help tell the film’s story and create moments we’ll certainly be talking about for years to come.
But which of these music moments are the best and will soon become fixtures of playlists around the internet? Well, after watching The Suicide Squad a few times, going through each song on the impressive soundtrack, and mulling it over, we’ve come up with a solid ranking of tracks and why they’re the cream of the crop. Check out our choices below!
9. Driving With Milton (“Point Of Know Return”)
The Kansas track “Point of Know Return” sounds like something that would show up on Guardians of the Galaxy: Awesome Mix Vol. 1 with its catchy beat, sweeping keyboard, and catchy pop sensibilities, not to mention those explosive moments throughout the song’s chorus. We hear it in The Suicide Squad when we first meet Milton (Julio Ruiz) as he comes up to a military checkpoint. Not only is this a great progressive rock song, but its lyrics tell the story of a hero joining a seafaring crew and heading into the unknown of the ocean. Not long after the song begins to play on the radio, Milton is joined by the surviving members of Task Force X, beginning his fateful journey with the team of misfits and a certain douchebag (and a hilarious joke later in the movie).
8. Bloodsport Cleaning The Prison (“Sucker’s Prayer”)
After The Suicide Squad’s shocking opening chapter and fast-tempo opening title sequence, the audience is in need of a slower and more toned-down moment, and we get that with The Decembrists’ “Sucker’s Prayer.” It is hard to think of a better way to introduce Bloodsport (Idris Elba) than with a scene that shows the eventual leader of Task Force X begin his hero’s journey while lyrics like “I was not ready for the road, I was so discontent to wear that heavy load” play in the background. A beautiful use of foreshadowing on James Gunn’s part, the scene and music choice also tells us who Bloodsport is before he even opens his mouth. Plus, this song is an absolute banger.
7. Infiltrating La Gatita Amable Gentlemen’s Club (“Can’t Sleep”)
Most of songs on The Suicide Squad soundtrack up until this point in the movie are either songs from the ‘60s and ‘70s or at least sound like they’re from that era, but that all changes when Task Force X enters La Gatita Amable Gentlemen’s Club with K. Flay’s “Can’t Sleep” playing in the background. This moody, atmospheric, and intoxicating song makes this sequence feel like a music video and is one of the last times we see the whole group together before things go south. It’s also heartbreaking watching Polka-Dot Man (David Dastmalchian) and Rick Flag (Joel Kinnaman) letting go and enjoying the moment considering what the next few hours have in store for them. There’s also that great Pom Klementieff cameo…
6. Meeting Savant (“Folsom Prison Blues”)
It only seems fitting that the first character we see in The Suicide Squad is Savant, played by one of James Gunn’s longtime collaborators, Michael Rooker. And it only seems more fitting to have the live version of Johnny Cash’s iconic live version of “Folsom Prison Blues” playing in the background (The Man in Black previously opened Zack Snyder’s Dawn of the Dead remake, which was written by Gunn). And like a few other tracks mentioned above, this short sequence has a ton of foreshadowing for things to come and does a tremendous job of setting the tone for the movie in general. Also, Savant’s skill with that racquetball is a great callback to Yondu’s Yaka Arrow in Guardians of the Galaxy.
5. Harley Quinn Escaping Capture (“Just A Gigolo”)
After falling in love (more on that later) and killing Silvio Luna (Juan Diego Botto), Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie) escapes the presidential palace and dozens of armed guards in one of the most spectacular moments of the entire movie. Set to Louis Prima’s “Just a Gigolo,” this flashy, violent, and partially animated (all those damn birds and flowers look amazing) sequence is great for a myriad of reasons with the biggest being the juxtaposition of intense violence and a catchy poppy jazz song playing in the background. Oh, and those 360-degree shots of Harley spinning around and killing everyone in sight is a real gem.
4. The Helicopter Ride Out Of Corto Maltese (“So Busted”)
While not as extravagant or violent as anything else that happens in The Suicide Squad, the final scene in the movie (well, before the end credits sequence anyway), the final sequence of Task Force X taking a helicopter out of Corto Maltese is one of the most charming and enjoyable scenes in the movie. With Culture Abuse’s “So Busted” playing in the background, we see all the surviving members counting their blessings and resting after defeating Starro in a very emotional scene. The icing on the cake comes in the final moments when Bloodsport finally opening up to Sebastian the Rat. Ending such a wild movie with a tender moment like this was a brilliant decision on James Gunn’s part.
3. The Suicide Squad Hero Walk (“Hey”)
We get several versions of the “Hero Walk” in The Suicide Squad, but the best version of this movie trope comes as the surviving members of Task Force X begin their assault on Jötunheim to put an end to Project Starfish. Blanketed by rain, the team make their slow march to the Nazi-era laboratory in epic fashion while The Pixies’ “Hey” plays in the background. Any other director would insert an epic orchestral for this moment, but James Gunn instead uses an angsty and tortured love song to create a unique vibe and atmospheric scene that just resonates more than a massive symphony with booming percussion, swirling strings, and powerful brass instruments could ever do. It’s also one of the best uses of a Pixies song since “Where Is My Mind?” closed out Fight Club.
2. Harley Quinn Falling In Love With Silvio Luna (“Whistle For The Choir”)
A few minutes before Harley Quinn’s love affair with Silvio Luna comes to an abrupt end, we are treated to one of the best uses of music in The Suicide Squad when the Task Force X member first meets and falls for the man she ultimately shoots and kills after he says he will take out women and children to keep power. Set to the tune of The Fratellis’ “Whistle For the Choir,” this charming, beautifully crafted, and all-around fun scene is one of the few tender moments of the movie and shows the emotional and tonal range of James Gunn. There’s no blood, no killing, just a happy Harley Quinn contemplating a happy and relatively peaceful life.
1. The Opening Title Sequence (“People Who Died”)
And then there is The Suicide Opening opening title sequence set to The Jim Carroll Band ripper “People Who Died.” This song and scene it accompanies does a masterful job of setting the tone of the movie as well as the motivations and personalities of the Amanda Waller (Viola Davis) and her team. Here you have half of Waller’s team either dead or dying on the beach while her subordinates cash in their bets and flip off the dead members of Task Force X, whose fatal wounds are shown in great (and disgusting) detail. Once that song kicks in you know this is going to be a ride unlike anything else.
All around, The Suicide Squad is a great time that feels like a breath of fresh air that the DCEU movies have needed for a long time. Let’s just hope James Gunn makes similar choices with the Peacemaker HBO Max show that will also see the return of John Cena’s titular douchebag.