Seeing ‘Suicide Squad‘ left me feeling very conflicted. As a DC Comics fan, I wanted SO badly for this movie to be good. In many ways, it was good. But it also could have been better. Overall, it was certainly an improvement for the burgeoning DC Cinematic Universe over their last entry (I.E. ‘Batman vs Superman‘). David Ayer proves he has a much better handle on directing superhero films than Zack Snyder. But if you are going into this film as a fan of the John Ostrander run of the ‘Suicide Squad’ comics, you’ll probably end up disappointed. If you’re a fan of the New 52 ‘Suicide Squad’, then the movie will be less jarring for you to see. Here’s the breakdown:
Amanda Waller (played to absolute, stone-cold perfection by Viola Davis) is determined to create a team of enhanced humans under her control to protect the interests of the U.S. Government in the wake of the recent events with Superman. She recounts how she has already assembled a team of criminals based out of Belle Reve Penitentiary consisting of Deadshot (Will Smith), Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie), El Diablo (Jay Hernandez), Captain Boomerang (Jai Courtney), Killer Croc (Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje), Slipknot (Adam Beach) and Enchantress (Cara Delevingne) to be overseen by Captain Rick Flag (Joel Kinnaman) of the U.S. Military and the mysterious Katana (Karen Fukuhara). (FYI: All of the criminals have tiny bombs planted in their neck that will blow their head off if they disobey or try to escape. If they succeed in their mission, they get time off of their prison sentences. If they fail, then it probably means they’re also dead, so….) Things go awry when Enchantress (a mystical being who possesses the body of archaeologist June Moone) uses her magic to escape the safeguards that Waller has in place and free her powerful brother in an attempt to wipe out mankind. Task Force X, as they are designated by the U.S. Government (aka: Suicide Squad), is released to dispatch the threat. Just like in the comic books, not everyone makes it out alive. But you’ll get no spoilers from me.
First of all, even though I wasn’t a huge fan of Jared Leto‘s portrayal of Joker, I totally respect how he owned the role. Obviously every actor that we’ve seen play this iconic character over the decades has brought their own style and their own flavor to him. I see what Leto was doing and where he took Joker, but it just wasn’t my favorite interpretation. (I’ll admit this could be a result of just coming off of seeing ‘The Killing Joke‘ last week where Mark Hamill returned to the role of the Clown Prince of Crime.) Leto’s Joker was a certainly a fresh take, it was intense and it was, at times, even terrifying, but it wasn’t what I picture the Joker to be. Staying on the topic of Joker… I originally questioned why he was in this movie and, after seeing the final product, I still do not see the need to have him appear in the film other than to further the plot of Harley Quinn. I think her origin and her role could have been defined in the movie without having Joker as omni-present as he was throughout the course of the film. His being there didn’t necessarily detract from the film, but it didn’t truly add anything either.
Margot Robbie had her work cut out for her as she is the very first live-action Harley Quinn we’ve ever seen. For my money, she did a great job playing the gleefully psychotic female lead and she easily held her own among the rest of the Squad. There are talks of a solo Harley Quinn movie in the works starring Robbie. If this turns out to be true, maybe we can actually have her completely out from under the Joker’s shadow so we get to see just how amazing this character can be on her own. As well as she played the part, Margot Robbie certainly deserves that chance.
Will Smith is consistently great and his movies are always a pleasure to see. But, much like other actors such as Julia Roberts and Jack Nicholson, Will Smith always tends to play Will Smith. To his credit, I feel like this was the least Will Smith-like role he has played in the past 5 years or so and I truly enjoyed him as Deadshot. He pegged the comic book portrayal of a gun-for-hire assassin whose only weakness was his love for his daughter. I also LOVED his confrontation with Batman early in the film which shows how he ended up in custody. If they add his Deadshot to Ben Affleck‘s solo Batman film that is currently in development, I will be the first in line to buy a ticket!!
Overall, the rest of the cast was just fine. Enchantress was creepy, Flag was brisk, Boomerang was the comic relief and Killer Croc was the muscle. The performances of Viola Davis and Jay Hernandez as Amanda Waller and El Diablo were, in my opinion, the standouts of the movie. The plot was… perhaps a little ambitious. Again, the movie opened just fine with Amanda Waller giving each character a quick origin as she recalls how she assembled the team. But as I said earlier, if you are a fan of the original Ostrander comic series, the idea of the team of moderately enhanced humans taking on a mystical demi-god makes you question why The Flash or Wonder Woman aren’t on site to deal with the problem which caused the evacuation of an entire city. Traditionally, the Suicide Squad handles wetworks, retrieval jobs and regime changes and had more political intrigue than super powered throwdowns. Also, this team was woefully underpowered to handle that kind of threat. For me, that was a huge disconnect for the movie. Another issue I had was the music. I liked a lot of the song choices they had, but early on into the movie, the changes in song for each vignette was over-powering, jarring and often just outright distracting. It almost felt like the point of the entire first half of the film was to sell the soundtrack as much as it was to introduce the characters.
With all of that being said, I truly did like this movie. It had few eye-roll worthy moments but it was overall an enjoyable, fun, comic book movie and certainly provides a more solid footing for the DC Cinematic Universe moving forward. I will say that seeing it in 3-D wasn’t necessary as the effects weren’t particularly impressive for that type of viewing. AND be sure to stick around for a post-credits sequence which helps set up ‘Justice League‘. There isn’t a final stinger after that one so no need to sit through to the very, very end of the credits. If you are a fan of the Ostrander series, brace yourself. If you’re a fan of the New 52 series, enjoy! Taken as a whole, I would give the movie a 6.5 out of 10 and deem it worth seeing in theaters before summer is over. After all, it wouldn’t kill you. (See what I did there?)