For the past three years DC and Warner Bros. have been trying to copy Marvel’s success in the film industry by trying to create a shared movie universe of their own. The problem is they’ve made many missteps along the way from trying to get to the Justice League movie as quickly as possible to having the tone of their films be too dark and even choosing a “multiverse” route so many films and shows share no connection. After so many pitfalls their latest film Suicide Squad was meant to be a turn around. There was a year long advertising campaign, numerous buzz and in the fallout the TV Suicide Squad was cancelled before it saw the light of day because Warner Bros. thinks we’re can’t tell the difference. Unfortunately, thus far it has received mostly scathing reviews and seems to be another addition to Warner Bros. ever growing list of mistakes. But is Suicide Squad as bad as the critics are making it out to be or is the fun summer blockbuster we were all hoping for?
The story for Suicide Squad isn’t a strong one in fact it’s as simple and generic as it gets. After the events of Batman vs. Superman government official Amanda Waller proposes that to fight the ever growing threat of meta-humans the government needs to recruit a group of super powered and talented criminals to be used as expendable assets. After a powerful meta-human called Enchantress wrecks havoc on a city and threatens to annihilate all mankind Waller sends in her Task Force X to deal with the problem. And that’s all there is too it. We’re introduced to all the members in a long but much needed exposition dump, we’re shown their current predicaments and off they go. To be honest it’s a film that needed such a small amount of story as it can be carried by it’s humor, action and most importantly it’s characters. The squad is the main focus of the film so their interactions, bonding and growth are what kept me engaged. Unfortunately it isn’t perfect as a few characters get more attention then the others but we’ll get to that. The humor is well done and very memorable with many moments that had laughing and chuckling. After something as dour as BvS it’s nice to see a film that takes time to tell some good jokes and have fun amidst the whirlwind of chaos and destruction. Surprisingly the story does become rather strong in the third act as the group becomes closer and the stakes grow higher and in this time there are some truly great moments of drama. There are also some very clever uses of mise-en-scene most of which we get from the soundtrack. I’ve seen many critics complain that Suicide Squad is trying to rip off Guardians of the Galaxy by having a soundtrack of older songs when clearly it isn’t. The latter fil used songs that were on the main character’s cassette tape and were important to him, the songs in Suicide Squad reflect what’s going on. The best example from the film is when Amanda Waller is introduced the film plays the Rolling Stones song Sympathy for the Devil. With a good third act, good humor and mise-en-scene it would seem Suicide Squad had everything down pat in the story department. That, however, is not the case. Suicide Squad’s story has it’s share of problems mostly with it’s pacing that is often times too fast, so much so that a scene change at times seemed jarring, and the group dynamic, though it works some, isn’t used to it’s full potential.
Characters for Suicide Squad are pretty good but underwritten for the most part
Deadshot, the de-facto leader of the group, is a pretty good character. He has a very sympathetic backstory, being that he was a paid killer to provide for his daughter who is his motivation throughout the film. Along with this we see elements of a good man in Deadshot and though he tries to convince others and himself that he’s a villain he eventually develops into more and more of a good man.
Harley Quinn is, as always, a very fun and enjoyable character. She’s interesting in that she provides a good portion of the humor but come the third act shows a side of seriousness with some good dramatic moments and a clear desperation to live a normal life.
Diablo is very sympathetic and interesting character unfortunately it takes a long time before he does anything. Diablo spends most of the movie hanging in the back refusing to fight. As the film progresses we understand why he doesn’t want to fight and eventually he becomes more and more important and soon it’s clear he is now out for a mission of redemption. Like Harley Quinn and Deadshot he has some very good moments of drama however it takes far too long for him to come front and center.
Rick Flagg serves as an escort for the group is mostly an irritating character. He’s supposed to be the straight man of the group but comes off as needlessly vindictive.
Amanda Waller is a horrible and detestable character. That might sound like a criticism but actually that’s a very good thing. They hit the nail on the head with her character as she’s cruel, selfish and doesn’t care about human life even if said human life is on her side.
Our villain for the film is Enchantress and though all powerful and seemingly intimidating she’s a very forgetful and rather dull villain. She doesn’t do much to make her presence known or remembered and isn’t proactive until the finale. This seems to be a very common problem with many big comic book films.
The remaining cast of characters is, unfortunately, underused and underwritten. Most of the focus is on Deadshot, Quinn, Flagg and eventually Diablo while the other characters get little to no attention. Captain Boomerang serves as comic relief, Killer Croc only reacts to whats going on, Katana exists only to make the group seem bigger and Slipknot is the poor son of a gun who’s made an example of if the characters try to escape. And of course there’s the Joker. The Joker’s purpose is the introduce him to the DC Cinematic Universe, much like Wonder Woman in BvS. He doesn’y do much and doesn’t really serve a purpose outside of creating needless conflict. All in all the whole thing feels like the Deadshot and Harley Quinn show featuring the Suicide Squad.
Acting for Suicide Squad is well done
Over the past couple of years it seems as if Will Smith has been phoning in his performances, either because he doesn’t care about the project he’s in or he believes he’ll get an Oscar for what he’s doing. Thankfully in Suicide Squad he’s back to the Will Smith I grew up with the one who was humorous in a serious situation, the one that clearly has fun with what he’s doing.
Margot Robbie is a complete show stealer as Harley Quinn. Robbie is incredibly fun and energetic and captures the personality of Harley Quinn perfectly.
Jay Hernandez does well as Diablo. Hernandez gives more a serious performance then most of his cast mates and works as one of the more serious members, giving a truly moving and sympathetic performance at times.
Joel Kinnaman rubbed me the wrong way. He isn’t bad it’s just his acting is very gruff and he acts more like a punk then a soldier.
Viola Davis is perfect as Amanda Waller. Basically she’s playing Annalise Keating so while it isn’t an original performance it’s one that she does very well.
Jai Courtney gives the best performance of his career as Captain Boomerang. Though regulated to comic relief character Courtney still gives it his all as Boomerang being very loud and energetic and nailing every single comedic moment with precision.
Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje is mostly wasted as Killer Croc. Though he has his moments Akinnuoye-Agbaje only reacts too whats going on before smashing some henchman through a wall.
For months many people have been outright mocking and insulting Jared Leto as the Joker mainly because of his method style of acting. Leto remained in character for a very long time and enjoyed playing the Joker so of course that’s reason to hate on someone who isn’t do anything wrong right? Though underused, appearing in at least eight minutes of the film, Leto does pretty well as the Joker. He isn’t the best, far from it, but it’s still an enjoyable performance and once I look forward to seeing more of in later films.
The action scenes for Suicide Squad are very flawed. There are numerous action scenes and though they run for a good amount of time, have variety to them and plenty of destruction there’s a major problem with editing and cinematography. The cinematography is really shaky and the editing at times choppy which makes it hard to see what’s going on. Often times the action can be made out, especially when Harley Quinn is fighting, but you have to pay close attention and not blink to see what’s happening. This took me out of the film and greatly disappointed me as there are clearly good action scenes to be had here it’s just we can’t see them most of the time.
The effects for Suicide Squad are pretty good. CG is, unfortunately, used a lot throughout the film though I must admit it does look fine and even works well with some for the more monstrous and destructive moments. The make-up is very nice especially on Killer Croc who does come off as looking convincing and the costumes are varied and often times creative, though next time can we please give Harley Quinn a pair of pants? The film utilizes it’s light very well often using bright neon colors that give the film a sort of cartoon look that adds to the style and humor of it.
Final Thoughts: I left Suicide Squad a little disappointed. Mostly it was the action, which was choppy despite having good stuff, and the lack of characterization with a majority of the cast. Still there is enjoyment to be found here with some truly good characters, a strong third act, good drama, great humor and some truly phenomenal performances. Right now it’s just a dumb, fun film to enjoy in the dog days of summer but a little more spit and polish and next time the filmmakers could actually have something great on their hands.