8.5 out of 10
Will Smith as Deadshot
Directed by David Ayer
Suicide Squad Review:
A fantastic cast, lighthearted tone, and fun soundtrack make Suicide Squad one of the most entertaining films of 2016.
Potential spoilers below!
After the death of Superman in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, the U.S. Government is concerned about how they will deal with future metahuman threats. Amanda Waller then steps in and offers her unconventional solution. She proposes to put together a team of super-villains to deal with any crisis that might arise. The team she proposes is powerful, deadly… and expendable.
Waller drafts Deadshot into “Task Force X” as it is called. He is an assassin for hire able to hit any target he aims at. Also recruited is Harley Quinn, the insane girlfriend of the notorious Joker. Despite her beautiful and silly exterior, she is a cold-blooded killer. Diablo, who can manipulate fire, is added to the roster despite his recent vow of non-violence. Also drafted are Boomerang, Killer Croc, Slipknot, and the mysterious Enchantress. Holding their leash is Rick Flag, a highly-trained operative who will do whatever it takes to accomplish his mission.
As predicted, a threat arises unlike any seen before. Based in magic, this new enemy is completely immune to the attacks of the U.S. Military. Amanda Waller uses the opportunity to try out Task Force X, or the Suicide Squad as they have dubbed themselves. But can they be trusted to save the world?
Suicide Squad is rated PG-13 for sequences of violence and action throughout, disturbing behavior, suggestive content and language.
One thing I don’t think I realized when I walked into Suicide Squad was just how much it was tied to Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. The events of that film really set the events of this film in motion. Superman’s death is acknowledged more than once. There are clips from that movie in this one. And it’s no secret that Ben Affleck’s Batman shows up. Yet Suicide Squad blazes new territory in the DC film universe in fresh and fun ways. The melancholy of the Superman movies is set aside. While still being grounded, it manages to introduce magic in a way the audience never questions. And it is just plain funny. This is the Deadpool of the DC movie universe. It is wacky, funny, and action packed and it doesn’t care what the A-list superheroes are doing off to the side of the screen. That makes it a lot more fun and it has a liberated feeling while still being part of that larger cinematic universe.
The cast of Suicide Squad is top notch across the board. Will Smith has had a lot of serious and depressing roles for a while and this feels like a return to the form that put him on top to begin with. While he does have serious moments, he does joke, kick butt, and seems to ad-lib in some scenes; it works perfectly, and one action scene where he proves why he’s called Deadshot brought cheers from the audience at my screening.
Another standout is Margot Robbie as Harley Quinn. If she wasn’t a star already, this has the potential to really make her a household name. If you’re not into the comic book community, you should know that Robbie had a ton of pressure on her taking on this role. If you go to any comic convention, there are literally dozens to hundreds of women and girls dressed as Harley Quinn depending on the size of the show. In my opinion, she will probably satisfy them all. Robbie manages to capture the spirit of Quinn from the animated series as well as the newer version from the comics while still making the character work for movie audiences. It’s a fine balancing act that Robbie manages to successfully navigate. The audience laughed or cheered at almost every line she delivered, and there are nods to the character’s origins in the film. Overall, I think this is one of those rare performances that please a wide range of audiences.
If you talk about Harley Quinn, you also have to talk about Jared Leto as The Joker. Leto had to face even bigger expectations as he took on the role and I really feel like he delivered. His Joker brings a lot new to the character and is significantly different from the performances of Heath Ledger, Jack Nicholson, and Mark Hamill while still being recognizably the villain we know and love (or hate). While Nicholson was a deranged gangster and Ledger was an anarchist, Leto’s Joker is more like a rock star crossed with a psychopathic serial killer. One minute he’s clowning around and joking. The next minute is quietly staring at you like a predator stares at prey. It’s an unsettling performance, and Suicide Squad breaks new ground with the character as we explore the romance between him and Harley Quinn. It’s an epic dysfunctional relationship that you could probably form an entire movie around by itself. Suicide Squad only touches the tip of the iceberg on their love story, but there’s enough here to make me want to see more if they have a rematch in an Affleck Batman movie.
While Leto, Robbie, and Smith are the standouts, the rest of the cast is excellent as well. Viola Davis is easily overlooked amid the more colorful cast of villains as Amanda Waller, yet she may be one of the most dangerous of the lot. You completely believe that she would firmly hold their leash and keep them under her control. Jay Hernandez also has surprising depth as Diablo. And when a secret of his is revealed late in the film, it’s a surprising revelation about his character that further expands the DC Universe. Ike Barinholtz as the prison guard Griggs is also hilarious and helps set the tone early in the movie.He helps introduce the audience to the villains and his reactions to them are some of the best laughs in the film. Cara Delevingne is also a surprise as June Moone and the Enchantress, I loved the visual effects for her character and her transformations into Enchantress are equally impressive and creepy. And while Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje doesn’t say much as Killer Croc, he is one of the most visually striking of the characters.
Suicide Squad also has one of the best soundtracks in a long time, following in the steps of Guardians of the Galaxy in terms of song choices. Each song helps tell the story of the character it is paired with and sets the tone. “You Don’t Own Me” introduces Harley Quinn, “Fortunate Son” is played when we meet Killer Croc, It goes on and on from there. There are a few new songs as well including “Heathens” by twenty one pilots. There’s a good chance you may want to pick up this album after seeing the movie.
Be sure to stay at the end for a mid-credits scene that helps set up one of the upcoming DC films. Warner Brothers takes another page from the Marvel playbook with this, but it works.
What Didn’t Work:
I am a major action movie fan and quite often I find myself saying, “Enough with the talking, get on with the action,” yet that wasn’t the case here. The cast of Suicide Squad is so strong and so engaging that when the story does finally go into action mode, it’s a tad boring. As our anti-heroes bash in the skull of one villainous goon after another like cannon fodder, it gets quite repetitive and boring. It’s like watching someone play a video game where the character is invincible and just button mashing as they mow through levels. On rare occasions amid the action there are glimmers of something new like Deadshot having a spectacular moment or Harley getting in a fight in an elevator, but a lot of it is just generic fighting.
As much as I loved the Joker, I do have to acknowledge one thing about his role in Suicide Squad – he’s almost completely irrelevant to the plot. If you delete every Joker scene from this movie, you still have the same core story. It’s still the Suicide Squad facing off with the major menace destroying the city. He’s an absolutely fun side show, but he doesn’t drive the main narrative at all. I hope he is better used in future Batman or Suicide Squad movies.
I had a couple of other minor gripes. Late in the film, we see the Enchantress casting a spell. When she does so, she’s doing some bizarre gyrating dance that looks a tad ridiculous. In fact, people in the audience began laughing when they saw it. They were laughing at the movie, not with it like they had been for the rest of the film. It kind of pulls you out of the story. I was also surprised that Scott Eastwood was basically an extra in this movie. Considering that he has been a leading man in other films, I think fans justifiably expected more from his character. That is not really the case at all. It was a bit of a letdown.
The Bottom Line:
Suicide Squad is a great step in the right direction for the DC film universe. It is well worth checking out on the big screen and is right up there as one of my favorite movies for the whole year so far.[Gallery not found]