The Avengers, the X-Men, Justice League, and now the latest group – calling all bad boys and bad girls because this one’s for you – the “Suicide Squad!” In the words of the bodacious, governmental leader Amanda Waller, “I want to put together a group from the baddest of the bad.”
The concept of a team composed of villains to go on missions that are either beneath superheros but beyond common humans is refreshingly original, and has the ability to really tell some fascinating stories – with characters who aren’t always as likable or redeemable. Influenced by the movies “Deadpool” and “Guardians of the Galaxy,” the “Suicide Squad” movie seeks to reach some untapped terrain within the superhero movie genre. But is this movie an oasis of great ideas or a mirage of failed experiments?
The “Suicide Squad” movie overall is entertaining and at times a fun film, that masks its obvious flaws in storytelling, lack of action and a third act that totally falls apart. So what’s good about “Suicide Squad”?
First and foremost, the star of the movie is Viola Davis as Amanda Waller. In the comic books, Waller is the most evil and ruthless dictator you will find, even though she believes her efforts are for the greater good. There is no secret kept from her and she in not afraid of any villain, metahuman or superhero – which perhaps makes her the most dangerous person in DC Comics. For those who know the character, Viola Davis does a great job conveying her essence – and for those who don’t, after this movie will know that she is more dangerous than any bad guy.
Then there are the two biggest stars delivering big time performances. Will Smith as Deadshot and Margot Robbie as Harley Quinn are the best characters in the film – mainly because they are the most developed, with fully realized backstories without going way over the top. They are the heart of the film and who you care for.
Perhaps the biggest surprise was Jay Hernandez as El Diablo. A secondary villain, who is not well-known and for a group called upon to fight major battles, he is the only one with real powers. When his powers are on display it’s the only time when you believe the group is ‘super.’ The special effects showcasing his powers are well worth it and makes the 3rd act fight scene worth watching.
I will also point out Director David Ayers creativity with the opening and ending credits that borrowed a lot from “Deadpool” and “Guardians of the Galaxy.” But after that, this film gets messy.
All the hype surrounding Jared Leto’s portrayal of the Joker is wasted as this film used him only as a glorified manic boyfriend – defined only by his ability to help tell the story of Harley Quinn. The Joker is someone who introduces anarchy into every situation and whose true motivation ironically is his doppelgänger, Batman, not his crazy girlfriend.
Rick Flag, the leader of this rag-tag group, played by Joel Kinnaman, is also reduced to being a love starved/crossed boyfriend who just like the Joker in this movie, who will do anything to get her back. Maybe they can both find a support group for their relational pains.
This wouldn’t be a DC Extended Universe (DCEU) film if it weren’t for crammed in cameos to help serve the purpose to build their movie universe because they keep trying to catch Marvel with one movie. It’s this philosophy that hinders, so far, the DC movie universe. Taking shortcuts has led to bad storytelling and direction for their movies, which rears its ugly head in “Suicide Squad”
The film lacks the proper motivation for members of the squad. The reason for uniting the team and their mission is bland, poorly crafted and leaves good actors flying in the wind with a 3rd act that has no emotional weight and even less believable. The ‘big bad’ of the movie has no reason for its actions, with an evil plan that goes nowhere. Director Ayers uses lots of flashbacks and slow motion to attempt to create an attachment to characters that, because of a stellar promotional campaign, we were already ready to get into.
So why should we care? Because even with all of its flaws, “Suicide Squad” is still interesting and entertaining enough to make you overlook the problems and believe in the promise.
Will Smith said it best in the movie as Deadshot, “We almost pulled it off,” as he attempts to soothe his compadres and perhaps subliminally the viewers. With a better mission, and less studio meddling, we could have had a better movie. The “Suicide Squad” are unique enough to deserve another chance.
Give this movie a shot and stay for the post mid-credit scene so that in another time and place, just like Amanda Waller, we can believe in the “Suicide Squad.”
Darryl King is a video director, film writer and avid Marvel/DC comic book/movie lover. Check out his reviews of Batman: The Killing Joke, Batman v Superman, and Captain America: Civil War right here on MMT.