★ 1/2 out of ★★★★
The Suicide Squad scrutiny dates back several months and it’s about to get a whole lot worse. The things you’re hearing are mostly true. At times it’s messy, over the top, and its character development is weak. Jared Leto (Joker) is feeling the brunt of it all thanks to his on-set antics and a performance which some are calling “uninspired.” In fairness to the guy, he has tough shoes to fill considering Heath Ledger’s 2008 Oscar-winning performance as The Joker. And just like Ledger, the internet trolls were relentless long before the film’s release. In Ledger’s case he hushed the trolls; in Leto’s case he feeds them. But it shouldn’t all be on him and frankly his performance wasn’t bad… it just wasn’t remarkable. Heck, he barely had any screen-time! The real problem is that Suicide Squad is so fantastical that it may scare off fans that prefer their comic movies seeped in a dose of reality.
How crazy does it get? Here are just a few plot points: an ancient witch and warlock (using magic of course) create a weapon of mass destruction to destroy the world. They utilize the help of a humanoid zombie-ish army that shoot guns. Their motivation is that the humans turned on them and therefore must be punished. Let all that sink in for a moment… witches in the world of Batman. For anyone who reads the comics or follows the story, this stuff is par for the course. But the folks coming in fresh will likely be taken back by all the madness. And here we thought nobody could make a crazier Batman film than Batman and Robin (1997). But it seems like we have just been proven wrong. Both movies are cheesy, but at least Batman and Robin’s cheesiness was on purpose.
So to stop all the bad guys, an ambitious CIA agent (Viola Davis) employs a group of cons. But these aren’t just any cons. They’re a collective group of the most dangerous “people” on earth. They aren’t exactly human beings, they’re known as metahumans with special gifts like super strength and the ability to act like this movie isn’t totally bizarre. We are talking of course about the Suicide Squad. Each person’s level of involvement and importance vary greatly, so for the sake of this review characters will be left out. Everyone wants to hear about Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie) so let’s start there. She’s a ball of sexy, crazy, and violent all in one. Robbie acts well in her role however the words she’s given limit her. An actress as talented as she is would do better with a more fleshed out character and stronger dialogue. A Harley Quinn solo vehicle would be a wise direction for this franchise. The unexpected standout and best character in the film is Deadshot (Will Smith). He plays an ex-hit man trying to better himself so he can gain custody of his daughter. Maybe it’s the down-to-earth simplicity of his character or Smith’s great acting but he’s the most likable character in the movie. The other guys and gals are all neat to watch and do a fine acting job but again it’s nothing spectacular. If you look at cast’s resumes it’s easy to see that they’re a wicked talented bunch. Kind of makes you wonder how this movie would fare with different writers.
Despite all of the criticism this movie still has some good things going for it. At over 120 minutes you’d expect the film to drag but there aren’t any dull moments. Along with superb action sequences, funny one-liners and a killer soundtrack it’s starting to feel like people’s passionate hate is forced. Some level of hate makes sense but the vitriol being spit is just a bit much. Is it flawed? Definitely. But at least it’s better than Batman vs. Superman… and that has to be worth something… right?
The Good: Cool cinematography and fight choreography. Any fans who remember the animated series in the 90s will love seeing the familiar faces in Suicide Squad.
The Bad: Story, story, story! In the world of film story is king and apparently Suicide Squad is regicide.
Final Word: Too zany for your average film-goer but may just have enough for fans of the comic. For Warner Bros. sake let’s hope they come out in droves.
Starring Will Smith, Jared Leto, Margot Robbie, Jai Courtney. Directed by David Ayer.
Running Time: 130 minutes
Rated PG – 13 for sequences of violence and action throughout, disturbing behavior, suggestive content and language.