If you march into the theater believing that DC Entertainment’s latest venture, Suicide Squad, is a film meant to follow its predecessors in having this dark and serious tone that casts a shadow over your head, I’ll be the first to tell you to throw that thought away. Do yourself the biggest favor and walk into that theater with nothing but fun in mind, because that’s exactly what you’re going to get.
On July 30th, I had the opportunity to see the movie about a team of locked up “super-villains” who’ve been recruited to stop an evil force (Cara Delevingne as the Enchantress) that has the potential to do our world some terrible damage. Prior to the movie’s release, there have been many negative speculations generated by fans, because unfortunately, DC has a tendency to not get their live action movies based on their comic book heroes right. From films like Superman Returns to Batman v Superman, people have been biting down at the fists, giving DC the benefit of the doubt regardless. So when Suicide Squad became a thing, many wondered why; and most importantly, whether the movie will be added to the list of DC movie efforts that don’t quite cut it, let’s check review this and I’ll add there are mild spoilers below.
And I’ll note that DC didn’t hit it on the nail with Suicide Squad, as in made their perfect movie. One of the biggest issues with the movie is the plot, which started out unique in its own way, and ventured into full blown predictable. It’s not everyday you have a recruitment of incarcerated villains being forced to become heroes, and in return, shorter jail sentences. Especially seeing the way in which each of them stand on their own so well as individuals, that in itself was a recipe for fun. But then to see that their secret mission task was to take down a witch who uses her black magic to create a massive weapon meant to destroy Earth, you think to yourself, “Wow. I know how this is going to go.” And you do. Every next step that was taken after why they were brought together was revealed, you not only saw it coming, but when it came, it was unimpressive. From them wanting to quit the mission, to them having this little pow wow at a bar, to them working as this team and calling each other their family… it felt as though the film was trying to bring this team together, so that they themselves could believe they were more than what they were locked up for. But because the plot doesn’t do anything to truly challenge these characters, the efforts come across very cheesy and uninspiring.
Another issue was the necessity of specific characters. The way in which the Joker pops in and out of the story, with no real reason as to why he’s there in the first place other than to tag along with Harley’s story (because I guess Harley can’t be Harley without the presence of the Joker), was displeasing. It’s bad enough that Leto’s performance as the Joker was subpar at most, but for him to seem more of a kingpin than an actual psychotic and beyond a ruthless THREAT, left me quite empty. Yes, the Suicide Squad isn’t the Joker’s problem. He just wants Harley back. The way in which they choose to tangle him into the plot felt unnecessary. Then there’s Captain Boomerang, who I understand is partially there for comic relief, but is also a member of the Suicide Squad and should pose as a major contribution to the team, as in, how does his abilities help the team become better and stronger? There’s no one way to answer that, because you don’t get to see it. There’s a moment where he uses his boomerang to spy into the room in which the Enchantress is doing her thing, but aside from that, he proves pretty useless. But not as useless as Slipknot, played by Adam Beach, who literally has such a micro cameo, if you blink too hard, you’ll miss him. The way they use Slipknot to illustrate a point in the movie was unfortunate at most, especially since they advertise him quite often in the press.
And if we’re going to talk about the ways in which the characters were written…
One bone I had to pick with Harley was how they wrote her before she transformed as the Joker’s girl, when she was Dr. Harleen Frances Quinzel, a psychiatrist at Arkham Asylum. During the press conference, Margot Robbie mentioned that she studied a lot of TED Talks by women who studied or suffered from schizophrenia, and that’s because Harley is a brilliant character who happens to be psychotic, as well. Unfortunately, at the moments where we could actually SEE that brilliance that resides in Harley, we don’t. When Harleen, (played by Margot Robbie) came across as a woman possessed and completely incapable of using her smarts around the Joker, and when Harley, comes across cute and ditzy with moments of “crazy,” you never get to see that brilliance. Can she flip and put up a mean fight, in heels, nonetheless? Most definitely. But that’s as far as Harley was written as.
Joel Kinnaman, who plays Flag and the man meant to keep the Suicide Squad in check, never comes across as someone worthy of feeling threatened by. Moments between him and Deadshot, felt short, for Deadshot he was the one usually controlling the tone between their spats. And the way they use Flag in the story, which is to simply do what he’s doing to save his girlfriend, Junie Moon, who is trapped in the Enchantress, also felt flat. As a viewer, you don’t BELIEVE Flag and Junie’s relationship, nor do you care for it. Then you have the Enchantress, who is such an interesting character in herself, but is barely emphasized on the way she could have been. She comes across as a threat, until they turn her into a spell binding villain that just wants to kill humans because where they once worshiped her kind and they no longer do. So, welp. Guess they gotta pay!
They did deliver something that you can watch and enjoy for exactly what it is. From the beginning to the end, the story gets right to the point. No finessing, no slivers of unnecessary backstories, and most importantly, no boring moments. I remember feeling as though the movie went by too quick, because it didn’t waste time trying to seem like it WANTED to be a Superman or Batman film. The tone is still very dark, with most of the movie taking place during the evening, with heavy rainstorms to add a touch. But what sets it apart is that regardless of its tone, there were many lighthearted moments that adds to the delight of simply sitting back and enjoying this movie.
Will Smith as Deadshot was a great idea. Will Smith has a natural humor that exudes in the characters he plays. And if you give him a script with lines that allow for that humor to show itself, then it will. And it did. You also feel for his backstory, and the way in which he rides for his daughter so hard. Though it felt too easy, and made it hard for you to imagine Deadshot as a villain at all, and more-so as an antihero, I enjoyed him. Viola Davis as Amanda Waller was a delight, because here is a woman who is a complete anti-hero and is out for herself and herself only. You don’t HATE Amanda, but you don’t like her, either. Viola gives us that medium so beautifully. Jay Hernandez as Diablo was a favorite of mine that I didn’t see coming. Possibly the most powerful one out of the group. Diablo was the person you want to empathize with the most, because his backstory is very unfortunate. And the way Jay brought him to life was so wonderful to experience. I wish they gave him more to go with though. Killer Croc (Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje) and Katana (Karen Fukuhara) did their part, though it’s still unclear why these two characters were necessary, other than to add more people into the fight.
The costumes could have been better, especially for the women. Harley Quinn’s outfit, I will never understand. Her blue and red made her come across as more of a mascot than anything, and because she’s the Joker’s right hand woman, her get up didn’t really make sense to me. The Enchantress, though drenched in a black eerie smog with chains, still wore an uninspiring bikini. And Katana just had to sport some stomach. I guess.
The action comes and goes, and isn’t anything prolific whatsoever. There were scenes here and there that does rile you up a bit, like when Deadshot is literally pulling headshots of these morphed face villains as they come running to him, which prompts everyone else to backdown because homeboy obviously has this covered. But aside from that, it just was.
The cameos of Batman and The Flash come and go, as well, and I still try to care for Deadshot’s vendetta against him, but can’t. The only time I truly cared for Batman being on screen was for the infamous post-credit scene that you’ll sit tight to watch. It doesn’t spoil anything, but it more-so does its job of leading you deeper in the movies to come from DC.
All in all, if you go into watching Suicide Squad to think you’re going to see the best movie DC Entertainment has made thus far, I highly advise to dial it back. Go in with no expectations, and just enjoy the movie for what it delivers. It’s not long, nor is it boring.
It’s a good time.