Review: Suicide Squad

 

Calling Suicide Squad “highly anticipated” would be an understatement. The David Ayer (Fury, Sabotage, End of Watch) film, about a group of supervillians sent on a black ops mission, has been talked about since the first trailer released at last year’s San Diego Comic Con.

Almost 12 months, a few re-shoots, and one polarizing Batman v Superman later, Ayer and Warner Bros were behind the eight ball if they wanted this movie to be a hit.

Despite the big names attached to the film – Will Smith, Viola Davis, Jared Leto, and Margot Robbie –Suicide Squad isn’t a wildly known property. Most people confuse Deadshot with Deathstroke and only know Harley Quinn from Batman: The Animated Series. As a result, the first 20 minutes acts as an introduction to the cast of crazy characters. The members pop on screen with silly stats next to them like they’re on the back of a DC Comic’s baseball card. Despite most members getting a back story (Sorry Killer Croc and Slipknot) the story focuses on Deadshot (Smith), Harley Quinn (Robbie), and Enchantress (Cara Delevingne). The rest of the group members are there for minor supporting roles, especially Captain Boomerang (Jai Courtney), who’s only there for comic relief.

The plot is simple – An issue with Enchantress and another meta human gets out of control, forcing Amanda Waller (Davis) to send in Task Force X aka the Suicide Squad. The team is told it’s a terrorist attack and under the guidance of Rick Flagg (Joel Kinnaman), they head into the city for an extraction.  To keep the group in line, each member has a nano bomb implanted in their necks that will explode if they try to escape.  The unpredictable bunch has to find a way to together, not only to stay alive but save the world.

One of the biggest surprises of the film is how fun it is. It’s surprising how fun it is.  It’s a lot more fun and lighter in tone than BvS. Not bogged down by a long-runtime (clocking in at a hair over 2 hours), the movie jumps right into the story and gets the pace moving until the credits role.

One of the biggest question marks going in was the Joker. Jared Leto had two big shoes to fill taking on this role. Make no mistake, Leto is great as  Joker, but he’s not really necessary in the story. Thankfully there isn’t a lot of him, but the minor interactions he does have feel forced.  This isn’t a knock on Leto, he interpretation of the Clown Prince is really interesting and character that should stay in the DCEU. Unfortunately, the story doesn’t give him much to do. As fun as his scenes are, they interrupt the flow of the film and take away from the characters the film is actually about. Imagine of Loki was shoehorned into Guardians of the Galaxy? That’s what Joker’s involvement feels like.

As far as the main cast, Robbie, Smith, and Viola are phenomenal.  Much like Leto’s Joker, they each made a case for the DCEU keeping their characters around. It helps that all three are remarkable actors. I’m sure they could’ve mailed their performances in, yet they all deliver.

Enjoying Suicide Squad relies heavily on two things – 1) suspending belief 2) enjoying the characters and not the plot. If you can enjoy Deadshot, Harley Quinn, and the bunch, you’re in for a treat. If you don’t care about predictable plots, you’re in for a treat.  If you don’t ask questions like – What is that thing shooting into the sky? What does it do? Why does Enchantress move like a belly dancer?  Is it nighttime or daytime? Didn’t Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows have the same ending? – you can have a really good time.

Suicide Squad’s MVP is Viola Davis. She dominated as Amanda Waller as only she can. She’s tough as nails, fearless, and not afraid to make hard choices. I’d run through a brick wall for Amanda Waller…mostly because I’d be afraid she blow my head off if I didn’t. The 6th Man of the film is Griggs (Ike Barinholtz), the pain-in-the-ass guard at Bell Reve. He delivers some of the films funniest moments. His interactions with Harley Quinn and Deadshot are priceless.

The biggest issue in the film is DC/WB still trying to find their footing. This is the third film in their cinematic universe and it’s apparent they still don’t trust the characters. There’s literally piles of comics with character stories, trust the source material you read and put it onscreen (see: Deadpool). DC/WB needs one person to remind everyone to trust what the history of the characters and build off that.

The elephant in the room – the DC movies will always be compared to Marvel, and Marvel Studios is running laps around DC right now. As much fun as Suicide Squad is, there are some “wow” moments but there isn’t an epic moment like the airport fight in Captain America: Civil War. Maybe these movies are unfairly judged, maybe they aren’t. But we do know Marvel continues to set the bar high and that’s the mark every DCEU movie is going to have to reach to keep people engaged.

Even with its issues, Suicide Squad is one of the most entertaining movies of the summer. It’s predictable and fun. It’s not perfect, nor will it win any awards, but it’s a helluva lot of fun for two hours. It’s a lot more enjoyable than it has any business being. There’s nonstop action, jokes, and a post credit scene (finally). Suicide Squad is a solid step in the right direction for DC/WB.

Grade: B-

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