Reviewed by Mitch Burns
Directed by: David Ayer (Fury, End of Watch)
Starring: Will Smith, Margot Robbie, Viola Davis, Jai Courtney, Jay Hernandez, Adewale Akinnuoye-agbaje, Joel Kinnaman, Cara Delevingne, Scott Eastwood, Adam Beach, Karen Fukuhara, David Harbour, Jim Parrack, and Jared Leto
It must be said that I had fairly low expectations going in to Suicide Squad, and the problems with this movie are devastatingly obvious, but I can not in good conscious say I didn’t have a fun time. It’s like eating something that tastes good, but smells really bad.
Following the events of Batman Vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice and (Spoiler alert) Superman’s death, Agent Amanda Waller (Viola Davis) feels that in a world where Aliens come down from the sky, it would be wise to have a defense system. Waller’s plan is to use supervillains, that are currently behind bars, as a defense system by putting bombs in their necks that can be remote controlled to go off if they act up.
The Squad includes Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie), Deadshot (Will Smith), Boomerang (Jai Courtney), Killer Croc ( Adewale Akinnuoye-agbaje), Diablo (Jay Hernandez), Enchantress (Cara Delevingne), and Slipknot (Adam Beach). The squad is led by Colonel Rick Flag (Joel Kinneman), who along with his bodyguard Katana (Karen Fukuhara), are in charge of this Suicide Squad.
No sooner does the group form (Wouldn’t you know it) When an ancient evil force begins to wreak havoc on the city. It falls upon the newly formed group of super-villains to bring down this evil force and protect the city, all the while trying to get along. It doesn’t help matters when The Joker (Jared Leto) steps in; trying to steal his girlfriend Harley Quinn back from Waller and the Squad.
When you boil it down to a few paragraphs it really doesn’t seem as convoluted and messy as the film actually turns out to be. The story spends a huge chunk of time on exposition, to the point where you would almost think it’s a joke, the way the beginning of the film starts and stops. Honestly, we didn’t need an explanation of why each character is in jail, there background, there skills, etc. Especially since the characters are simple and Straight-forward, Boomerang is Australian and throws a boomerang, Killer Croc is a crocodile man, Deadshot shoots, Harley Quinn has a bat… etc.
I have been known to forgive lousy exposition now and then, but the script is altogether lousy and so unimaginative that you can’t help but wonder who green-lit this script. This is clearly a case of too many cooks in the kitchen, I don’t understand how anyone looks at this script and says “perfection”.
I couldn’t help but feel that I just watched some decently talented actors walk around Midway City and kill the odd guy. The Squad are sent to an office building where they’re forced to fight there way to the to top (Raid/Dredd style), this is a large majority of the story and it’s absolutely worthless! It’s a waste of our time, because…
… at the top they find Waller (Davis) and a group of armed people who need to be escorted out. Honestly a huge waste, if the film had an interesting “Bad guy” they wouldn’t have had to fill the film with this bogus malarkey.
Even with all the destruction and mayhem (which felt very reminiscent of the destruction in Man of Steel) The stakes feel incredibly low. The “Big Bad” is a horribly constructed and monotonous, *Spoiler* The enchantress is the bad girl, she resurrects her evil brother and they decide to eradicate mankind, so they go to the middle of midway city and dance around a big purple light. What?
The tone is dark, but not dark enough, with random comedic beats that are rarely funny, and clearly thrown in to try a lighter, Marvel-esque approach. The pacing is off, the film stops and starts, winding through plot holes and logic gaps without a care.
Suicide Squad is quite honestly a bad movie, so why did I kind of enjoy it?
Well, for one, the characters they do manage to develop are interesting, Harley Quinn (Robbie), Deadshot (Smith), and Rick Flag (Kinnaman) are the standouts in my opinion. This is the first time Harley Quinn has been brought to the live-action screen, and I think they did a good job with her character. One scene stood out in-particular, a simple scene with Quinn sitting on a taxi pretending to be happy when really shes crushed inside. Robbie was the possibly the best choice to play the Jokers girlfriend, and besides some corny dialogue, Harley Quinn is really the best part of the entire film.
Clearly, Will Smith is the biggest actor and highest paid among the group, so his character Deadshot must be the lead. The decision to make Deadshot the focal point of the film, when all eyes are clearly going to be on the Joker and Harley Quinn, seems a bit forced. Although, besides a scene near the end involving Deadshots daughter, his story-line doesn’t feel as contrived as it could have been. Smith is as good as usual, and his character is interesting, he’d be a great villain on his own.
I haven’t heard much talk about Rick Flag, but I found his character to really bring the film and group together, and Kinnaman’s portrayal was top notch. Flag grounds the film and brings a tiny bit of reality to this crazy story. Waller (Viola Davis) is an almost unbelievable character, and does quite the opposite of grounding the film in reality. I love Viola Davis, I really do, but she really just came across as a disgruntled office employee.
Now, The Joker. The clown prince.
I never, ever, for one second thought The Joker was going to be the villain in this film, I’m baffled people thought so to begin with. Why would Harley Quinn try and stop her boyfriend?
I honestly thought he was going to be a part of The Squad itself, but maybe that was crazy thinking as well. Now, you may think I’m just going against the grain here, but I personally thought we were given a good amount of The Joker in Suicide Squad. I obviously knew going into the film to expect less of him than we all originally thought, but his amount of time onscreen was sufficient for me. Although, what they chose to have the Joker do in this movie, was baffling. I would have just kept him in some of Harley Quinns flashbacks, and the end scene, and that’s it. The Joker is really an unnecessary addition to this film, he had almost nothing to do.
I found Leto’s performance to be sufficient, and I personally think it will be super interesting to see Leto’s Joker go up against Affleck’s Batman someday. I will not compare him to Ledger’s Joker in The Dark Knight, these are clearly two different jokers, and we will never, ever get a performance like Ledger’s again. I applaud the minds that decided to make Leto’s joker more of a gangster/thug, it feels authentic, and it could really work in future films. Overall though, The Joker should not have been in this film, and Leto really tried here but his performance was wasted.
The other characters are either straight forward, or forgettable. Jai Courtney, who I’ve never been a fan of, is unrecognizable and the funniest part of this film, as Boomerang. Killer Croc, Slipknot, Diablo, Katana, and Enchantress are forgettable or just serviceable. Waller, as I said, is an over the top character, and just logistically did not make sense. Scott Eastwood is in this, and he’s practically useless, I don’t even think he had a character name.
Also, I can’t be the only one who think Ike Barinholtz (The Mindy Project) and Jim Parrack (True Blood) look incredibly similar. I didn’t realize until afterwards that they were two different people, which made for some confusion on my part.
So, for me the good characters made this bad movie entertaining. Even the characters that I didn’t find all that interesting, I found their abilities were brought to the screen in wonderful ways. Diablo, Killer Croc, and The enchantress’ brother all have interesting, unique powers that are realized with great effects and thought.
The story is incredibly straight forward, a bit silly, but there’s something fun about it all. It never feels like a slog, it never bores, I would rather watch this 1000 times over watching Batman vs. Superman once. DC is quite clearly trying to rush films out the door before they’re ready, although this time it feels as if at the last minute they over-saturated it with “Fun” music, and threw in some shitty jokes to give it a tone closer to Marvels. Sadly, it doesn’t work, and dammit did I really want this to be a hit.
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