Suicide Squad is now the third entry in Warner Bros.’ DC Extended Universe, with Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice coming just before it. It has a lot riding on its shoulders, considering the critical response of both BvS and Man of Steel. And I’m sure you already know by now, Suicide Squad has gone down the same path in terms of critical/audience perception.
Truth is, I think the film itself is pretty decent. It’s certainly loads more fun than both Man of Steel and BvS, and not nearly as depressing our dour as BvS. David Ayer manages to make Suicide Squad enjoyable, despite the film’s flaws – which it has plenty of.
Intelligence officer Amanda Waller (Viola Davis) decides to assemble a team of dangerous, incarcerated super villains for a top-secret mission. Figuring it has nothing to lose, the U.S. government supplies weapons to Deadshot (Will Smith), Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie), Captain Boomerang (Jai Courtney) and a bunch of other super villains played by some pretty solid actors and actresses. The plot of the movie is actually pretty simple, and the story itself involves a lot of flashbacks in order to help set up character backstory and development.
In the beginning of the movie, Waller introduces each member of the Suicide Squad and we get to see a cool little scene with each character, displaying their skills and why they got locked up in the first place. Here, Ayer manages to give us some visual references to panels in the comic books. There’s also a bevy of source music being used throughout the first act, and the rest of the movie. This component is a bit similar to what Marvel Studios and James Gunn did with Guardians of the Galaxy – although in that movie, there was a real reason as to why the music was in the movie. Here, not so much.
The squad gets assembled pretty quickly in the narrative, when Waller gives them an opportunity to make themselves useful. The character of Enchantress, played by Cara Delevigne, has a lot to do with this and that’s all I’ll say. Speaking of which, Delevigne ended up being one of the weakest aspects of the movie for me. I didn’t find her convincing, as June Moone or Enchantress, but apparently Ayer thinks otherwise, which is why he cast her in the role. There’s one sequence in the third act which involves her, and a lot of CGI, and the way in which her body was moving had me cringing and borderline laughing – because I found it to be so terrible.
— Suicide Squad (@SuicideSquadWB) August 5, 2016
I guess I can talk about the performances overall. Viola Davis is probably one of the best aspects of the film, what she did with Amanda Waller was awesome and compelling to watch. She’s easily one of the standouts. Another big standout is, of course, Margot Robbie as Harley Quinn. The whole Harley-Joker backstory is hinted at in the movie, maybe not explored to the extent some comic book fans would prefer. But she is given just enough to do to make her presence throughout well-known.
Will Smith is surprisingly tolerable as Floyd Lawton/Deadshot. Jay Hernandez as El Diablo was also pretty great, and he probably has the darkest backstory of them all, which was a bit unexpected but effective. The special effects with this character and his powers were very well-done. Jai Courtney is amusing as Captain Boomerang, and playing a real
shit-bag, as Ayer would say.
Karen Fukuhara makes her cinematic debut as Katana, who doesn’t really have many lines in the movie, which is a bummer. Frankly, she didn’t have a whole lot to do, so it’s difficult trying to gauge her performance based on this. But she was fine. There’s probably one character you’re waiting for me to get to and there’s a reason I haven’t mentioned him until now.
Jared Leto really doesn’t get much to do as the Joker and, with the way the film is edited, the character serves no real purpose in the story. This is tough, because this is, much like Harley, a character many fans have been waiting to see on screen. We last saw Joker 8 years ago with Heath Ledger’s portrayal, and with context like that, reintroducing the character is important. It has to be handled right. And it wasn’t handled right here. I say that because, quite literally, the Joker is inconsequential to the plot of this film.
Don’t expect very much from Leto, because you’re not going to get very much. Doesn’t have a whole lot of lines, even when he is on screen. And what he says doesn’t really carry much weight or substance. Leto’s Joker is definitely creepy, but that’s about it. He’s not much of a murdering psychopath – because he just doesn’t get the opportunity to really be one. He exists simply for Harley and his only goal in the movie directly involves Harley.
— Suicide Squad (@SuicideSquadWB) August 5, 2016
It’s a shame it had to turn out this way. This is the introduction of a new version of the Joker. We, as the audience, should be getting more time to digest him and soak him in. The kind of role he has in this film would only be okay if he existed in the DCEU before this and had roles in 3-4 other movies. Then this would be okay, then this would make a bit more sense. But as an introduction, it’s just not enough and it’s not the right way to kick off Leto’s run. Hopefully Affleck redeems this if and when Joker returns in his Batman flick.
Another point of contention for a lot of people will be the romance between Joker and Harley itself. You should know that in the comics, the Joker doesn’t actually love Harley. It’s not true love, it’s toxic, he abuses her. Yet, that’s not the route they went in the movie. They treat it almost like a legitimate love story. Whether or not this is a good thing is actually debatable, because of how it is all handled, backstory and all.
The action in the movie was pretty fun. There are plenty of scenes and sequences with the squad battling it out with nameless baddies; Harley gets to smash things with her mallet and bat, Deadshot sprays a hell of a lot of ammunition, even Cap. Boomerang uses his boomerangs and it’s not silly. For the most part, it was filmed well. The cinematography and how scenes were lit certainly could have been a tad bit brighter.
There’s also plenty of humor all throughout the movie. Surprisingly, almost none of it is thanks to the Joker. Harley gets more shine than him, and Smith actually has some funny dialogue, as does Courtney and Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje as Killer Croc.
Other than that…there’s not much else to say about the film. It’s decent, it’s fun, it can be entertaining. It’s probably not as good as it could or should be. Can’t really predict whether or not you’ll enjoy it at this point. I think it’s worth checking out and seeing for yourself.