The day has finally arrived. SUICIDE SQUAD is ready for release and the masses are chomping at the bit. As the third movie in the DC Extended Universe, it has been pitched as the golden child compared to the soulless and frustratingly lame Batman V. Superman: Dawn of Justice. Suicide Squad could have been the movie that shifted the DCEU in an amazing direction, but instead, it takes one step forward and two steps back in its progress. It’s an incoherent spectacle but one that’s only moderately disappointing as the movie still manages to deliver an adequate amount of entertainment.
The story features Viola Davis bringing some serious Annalise Keating realness to the table as Amanda Waller, a control freak government official who is hellbent on creating a team of dangerous bad guys that she can send out into the field to fight bigger baddies. She finally gets her wish and with the help of Rick Flag (Joel Kinnaman), she curates a group of mentally unstable and deadly criminals that include assassin/family man Deadshot (Will Smith); the wildly unhinged and always scantily clad Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie); the homeless-looking Boomerang (Jai Courtney); the reluctant and ill-tempered Diablo (Jay Hernandez) who can create fire out of thin air; and a crocodile man with the unoriginal title of Killer Croc (Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje). When anthropologist June Moone (Cara Delevingne) is possessed by an entity known as Enchantress, she aims to build her massive “weapon” with the help of her brother to wreak havoc and destruction on the world. One thing leads to another and the movie becomes an action-packed nonsensical extravaganza bloated with characters, backstories, and storytelling that leaves you more and more uninterested as the movie progresses. Most of all it says, “Hey bro, we don’t care if this movie is structurally bad. We just want you to have fun!”
David Ayers’s adaptation of the supervillains-turned-heroes is quite ambitious — and Mr. “F*** Marvel” certainly swings for the fences to achieve peak “Squad Goals” with this one. He had to establish a ridiculously long list of characters that have yet to be introduced in the DCEU and create a solid story that does justice to the source material within the confines of two hours. That’s a tall order and fortunately, he did do it, but it was thrown together like a middle schooler’s last-minute science fair project.
The movie’s primary focus is on Deadshot and Harley Quinn because (1.) the characters are played by the stars selling this movie and (2.) they are the most interesting. Smith surprisingly brings a human dynamic to Deadshot, a hired assassin who cares deeply about his daughter as much as he does wearing casual attire that looks like it was brought from a Shaft garage sale. His constant mentioning of his daughter throughout the movie was clearly an attempt to give the story a modicum of emotional grounding — and it works because the Fresh Prince has grown enough as an actor to do that kind of stuff in his sleep.
Harley Quinn, on the other hand, once served as a psychologist to the Joker (Jared Leto) and eventually fell in love with him – which apparently led them down a Sid and Nancy-esque path. Robbie is clearly the stand-out of the movie but deserved more. How close Harley’s backstory is to the source material is questionable, but, character-wise, it’s a compelling narrative that was one of the few things worth caring about in this movie — which will hopefully be covered in the Harley Quinn spin-off movie that is already in development.
Other than Deadshot and Harley Quinn, the movie is filled with tacked-on characters like Slipknot (Adam Beach), shoehorned backstories stories for peripheral characters like Diablo and Katana (Karen Fukuhara), and the presence of Boomerang — who doesn’t really do anything besides guzzle down energy drinks and keep a stuffed pink horsey under his jacket (which is never explained in the movie). Enchantress, the big baddie of the movie, may provide some creative cosplay ideas for next year’s Comic-Con but as a villain, is horribly uninspired, falling flat despite her all-encompassing prowess. She builds a “weapon” with the monstrous entity of her brother (who is disposable) and doesn’t really have any goal besides destroying the world; a movie of this magnitude needs to give us something else besides world annihilation, which has become incredibly old hat. All of this may have significance in the comic book and this may have been Ayer’s attempt to service the fans, but the way it was incorporated into the movie seems to clutter and disrupt rather than provide a sensible flow.
And if you are hoping to see lots of Leto’s Joker in Suicide Squad, don’t hold your breath. His screentime amounts to maybe 15 minutes or so, and he gives it his all. Perhaps this was more of an amuse bouche of the Joker for future DC films rather than a platform for Leto to go full-out as the cackled green-haired and grilled psychopath. He left some bite marks in the role, but it felt contained. There’s something more within his 30 Seconds To Mars soul that is dying to get out – but the Academy Award-winning actor may just be getting started with his iteration of one of the best villains in cinema.
Despite its downward spiral into the critical abyss, audiences will flock to see Suicide Squad. Still, this won’t be the game-changing DC movie that the studio had hoped it would be as it suffers from the leftover Zack Snyder-ness of Batman V. Superman and does nothing to plant a seed of excitement for future DC movies. Sure, it has humor and a little more soul, but it still lacks the touch of someone who cares with all his/her comic book-loving heart. Ayer and Snyder seemed more concerned with making a totally awesome pic for guys who used to beat up on nerds rather than a movie that has a deep-seated affection for the rich history of these beloved characters.
In a way, Suicide Squad reflects the issues plaguing its characters: it is a misfit problem child that almost reaches its potential for greatness but ultimately doesn’t really give a damn, barely meeting the minimum requirement to be “good enough.”
Running time: 123 minutes
Dino-Ray Ramos watches too much TV, enjoys reality singing competitions and laughs inappropriately during dramatic films. He’s a fan of comedy, podcasts, and comedy podcasts. He’s a reformed comic book geek and thinks “The Goonies” is the best movie of all time. When he isn’t stuffing his face with a burrito, he’s thinking about his next trip to Disneyland.
Dino-Ray Ramos | Staff Writer