The newest outing from the DC Extended Universe is entertaining as hell to watch, but is it as bad as the critics make it out to be? (Spoiler Free Review)
Director: David Ayer
Writer: David Ayer
Stars: Will Smith, Margot Robbie, Cara Delevingne, Jai Courtney, Joel Kinnaman, Viola Davis, Karen Fukuhara, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, Jay Hemandez, Adam Beach, Scott Eastwood, Jared Leto
Picking up not long after the events of Batman v Superman, Amanda Waller (Davis) is looking to form a team of those who are disposable because the next Superman may choose to destroy humanity, not save it. With the leadership of Rick Flag (Kinnaman) and Katana (Fukuhara) along with the help of an other-worldly witch, Enchantress (Delevingne), Waller assembles the worst of the worst.
Deadshot (Smith), Harley Quinn (Robbie), Boomerang (Courtney), Diablo (Hernandez), and Killer Croc (Agbaje) are tapped for the mission. When all hell breaks loose, the ragtag group realizes they are not meant to survive. In the thick of the battle, group has to decide if they are going to fight, or is it every man for himself.
This movie has been slaughtered by the critics and I can understand why. Suicide Squad is not a good movie. The tone is all over the place, swaying from off the wall crazy to brooding and dark. It is fairly obvious the studio and Ayer clashed over how the film should look and feel starting with the colorful and cartoony graphics that dominate the first 15 minutes of the film. It is also obvious the last minute reshoots and edits didn’t allow much of an original score to be written for the film or the composition was left on the cutting room floor. In lieu of a proper orchestral soundtrack, the music editor used songs for character introductions and transitioning scenes. There was some great music used, I have no complaints there, but it gave the film a less personal touch.
After the critical panning of BVS and the extreme drop off in the box office after a huge opening weekend, Warner Bros panicked and took that fear out on this film. Stepping in and forcing more of a colorful, wacky attitude. I don’t know if Ayer’s vision would have been better, but it would have been more cohesive.
With that said, it is a very fun movie to watch. When it goes off the wall are the moments the film becomes enjoyable. Allowing the actors to take the characters to the extreme works in the movie’s favor, it seems as if everyone is having more fun. It is when the characters and plot try to ground itself in some kind of real danger or emotion is when things start to fall apart.
Smith as Deadshot was hilarious as the defacto leader of the villains, tapping into his past subversive characters to make a gun for hire sympathetic and ruthless. His chemistry with Harley and bromance with Flag was some of the higher points of the film. Harley is described as the “Wild Card” in the beginning, and she lives up to the title. Robbie’s portrayal of her was easily my favorite, embracing a cracked and complicated character. Equal parts sexy, nutty, funny, unpredictable and sympathetic as a woman who loves her unusual man and longs for normal.
Kinnaman did his best with Rick, but the boy scout was going to be boring against the group of crazy no matter what. The real stand out is Davis’ Waller. She could have been a typical government baddie we all love to hate, but Ayer stayed pretty true to the ruthlessness of the character. Davis’ cold badassness made me love her, even when she was doing horrible things.
The rest of the cast is just there to serve fodder for the big conflict. Croc hangs in the back looking creepy until a fight breaks out, El Diablo pouts because he fears losing control of his powers. Katana is a badass, but doesn’t get to say much which is a shame because her story could have been an interesting plot point. Enchantress is just really weird and her counterpart, June Moon, is practically nonexistent. Boomerang gets to do and say some funny stuff, but is easily overshadowed by the other goings on. I wish his character would have been given more time on screen and not shuffled to the back to make room for Rick, Harley, and Deadshot show.
As usual, the villain is the weakest point of the film which is saying a lot when there are many weak points. I can’t talk about who the big bad is or what they are doing because it counts as a spoiler so come back on Monday for the spoilery review. I can say the main villain is not The Joker (Leto) and his brief appearance in the film only serves to add more to the Harley Quinn story and set up her own film. Leto does his best to fill the shoes of the brilliant Heath Ledger Joker and I give Leto and Ayer an A for their effort. The biggest complement I can give either one of them is at least they didn’t try to copy what came before. They tried to take a fan favorite and make it uniquely their own, but The Joker amounts to nothing more than a psychotic gangster looking for his woman. It makes for a disappointing new start for such a loved villain.
One quality of Suicide Squad that was great was how quickly it got to the action. Since the film had to introduce us to a whole new group of characters many non-comic book readers had never heard of, the beginning is used to give back stories. The origin stories are told quickly, almost in a mad dash sort of way and that’s fine. With the exception of Harley, knowing how these people came to be is really not that imperative. What is important is getting them to the action. Of course to get to the exciting battle quickly, character development, bonding moments outside of the main three protagonists, and explanation as to what is going on are sacrificed.
Suicide Squad is a hot mess, but an entertaining mess as long as you keep your expectations low. What does another critical panning mean for the fledgling DCEU? Not sure yet. We are just going to have to wait and see how the fans take to the vision being created.
3 out of 5 Stars