Film scores

Soundtrack review: Suicide Squad (Steven Price – 2016)

Suicide-Squad-soundtrack

“Suicide Squad” is a 2016 American superhero film based on the DC Comics antihero team of the same name. Written and directed by David Ayer and distributed by Warner Bros. Pictures, it is the third installment in the DC Extended Universe. The film stars an ensemble cast featuring Will Smith, Jared Leto, Margot Robbie, Joel Kinnaman, Viola Davis, Jai Courtney, Jay Hernandez, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, Ike Barinholtz, Scott Eastwood and Cara Delevingne. In Suicide Squad, a secret government agency led by Amanda Waller recruits imprisoned supervillains to execute dangerous black ops missions and save the world from a powerful threat in exchange for clemency. Steven Price wrote the score and I’m excited to hear him write for a superhero movie. Everything I’ve heard from him so far has been exceptional.

I consider the first cue “Task force X” the main theme because it’s awesome. The way it’s written and the way it fits the characters makes me think of how Hans Zimmer usually finds the perfect musical vessel for each character he encounters. Steven Price combines emotion with aggression and electronic music with a base that makes me thing of the energy and spark of the “Pacific Rim” score from Ramin Djawadi. There goes another RCP reference. For me this is how a superhero theme should sound like: bold, powerful and spectacular.

The composer hooks me then with the first emotional moment of the score, “I’m going to figure this out”. Don’t misread emotional as soft; emotions in this one also come in bursts of rage that complement the slow and reflective background. I remember it’s this kind of music that make me love Price’s 
Gravity” so much. Pieces like this cue or the subtle drops of insanity in “Brother, our time has come” are easy to highlight because they offer a variation that otherwise lacks in “Suicide Squad”. I am a bit frustrated that sometimes a cue seems to be ready to explode and then it fizzles. There are a lot of moments like these throughout the score; it feels as if the composer wanted sometimes to contain the music against its will. But hey maybe that’s the idea of the movie as well, repressed emotions and instinct of this team of misfits as they try to do the right thing.

The score comes alive when something like “That’s how I cut and run” blasts in my ears. This is the kind of relentless and breath taking cue that makes me connect with the score and want to see what happens and makes me want to even use if for my running playlist. This is epic music at its best and I wish it wasn’t such a rare occurrence in “Suicide Squad”.

I am surprised that it’s hard to identify separate character themes. Steven Price chose to write for the movie and general story instead of for the characters; this sort of strips the composition of a clear identity. There’s a shadow of that in “Harley and Joker” and this is a relationship the music could have spent more time on. I recognize a familiar and comfortable darkness in this theme. There is also an epic buildup that makes me want to join whatever scene they are having.

I guess I expected more insanity from the score, more variation. The spectacular end of the score redeems the slower parts but this is a story about a team of different and deranged individuals and the music rarely explores that. “Suicide Squad” is an enjoyable score but a little too lean and balanced compared to what I had in mind. Steven Price rarely strayed from the path he chose and for me wrote a score that’s too nice for what this movie is supposed to bring.

Cue rating: 88 / 100
Total minutes of excellence: 43 / 93
Album excellence: 45%

Highlights:
Task Force X
I’m Going to Figure This Out
That’s How I Cut and Run
Harley and Joker
Hey Craziness
The Squad
Are We Friends or Are We Foes?
One Bullet Is All I Need
I Thought I’d Killed You
The Worst of the Worst
BONUS:
Enchantress in the War Room
Task Force X Activated
I promised my friends

About the author

Mihnea Manduteanu

I have been listening to film music for 25 years and writing about it since 2014. I've written over 1000 reviews and I can't imagine myself doing anything else. I am also a member of IFMCA (International Film Music Critics Association).

2 Comments

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  • I know this ost is not really the best one of the year. Ok.

    But I appreciate your effort to understand what that ost means no only for the music panorama but for what really matters, the movie.
    I watched Suicide Squad last weekend and while I hated the pop tracks included in the movie footage I enjoyed a lot Steven Price’s work for give soul to the scenes and story. And for me works very well.

    I said this beacuse in other respectful “ost web sites” many users and critics say and give bad reviews about Prices’s work. Some of them I think were waiting some Oscar nominee score by the way hahaha

    Some times I honestly think, what really matters is if the music work well in his context, the movie. And while the Pop Soundtrack hurts Steven Price music more than I will like, the Original Soundtrack still work.

    Thank you, for your objetive review.