Verdict: 3 / 5
It’s 2016 and the world might be feeling whiplash from all the superhero films on the circuit this year. Given the backlash for Batman v Superman, DC readjusted and assembled an all-star team of supervillains to try to win back the box office. Polar opposite to Dawn of Justice, Suicide Squad is a wild antidote. It’s undoubtedly a lot more on the fun side, thanks mostly to Will Smith, Margot Robbie, and occasional appearances by the Dark Knight himself.
“The world changed when Superman flew across the sky,” Viola Davis’s Amanda Waller, the baddest badass in a movie full of badasses, says early on in Suicide Squad. “And then it changed again when he didn’t.” Continuing from where the previous DC Comics film left off, we are introduced to our wise-cracking motley crew of anti-heroes. The paid assassin with a soft spot Deadshot. The crazy Harley Quinn. The incendiary Diablo. The freakish Killer Croc. The butch and harsh Boomerang. The high-climbing Slipknot. They’re all assembled by Amanda Waller, a government agent who cherry-picks them from Blackgate Prison. Under the command of Col. Rick Flag, the team is sent on a secret mission. In return, they are offered concessions and ten years off their time. Of course, nothing goes quite according to plan.
Suicide Squad kicks off with ferocity, diving into backstories of the villains in a darkly subversive cartoon style overlaid with a popular punk rock soundtrack (Queen, Rolling Stones, The White Stripes, and Eminem fade in between). It’s a Tarantino-lite film that doesn’t take itself too seriously and is filled with humour and glossy action pieces. The darkness that blankets Man of Steel and Batman v Superman is still there, but we’re given moments to exhale before inhaling deeper moments in the film’s simple and standard save-the-city-from-destruction plot.
The biggest surprise comes from Will Smith’s Deadshot, who manages to command your attention in every scene he’s in. His character is given the most heartfelt moments and Smith takes it all in his stride. He flexes his acting muscles by delivering one-liners and tear-jerking moments almost at will. Following only a little bit behind him, Margot Robbie’s Harley Quinn is perfect and transfers well from the comic book panels onto the big screen. Leto’s Joker has been the focus of many conversations and online talk, but he only occasionally capers in and out as a subplot. His incarnation of the character plays out more like Marilyn Manson than Ledger or Hamill’s Joker. It’s still too early to tell if he’s the right man for the job or whether his interpretation will sit well with fans. Most of his performance was too eccentric and volatile to completely take in.
There is plenty to like and dislike about the film. We’re missing the epic cinematography of Snyder’s world, but we’re given far less to digest. Hence, Suicide Squad doesn’t feel bloated or confusing. Although it still suffers from some of the problems earlier movies had – editing, an uninteresting main villain and too much spectacle in the finale – it’s an entertaining movie made to entertain the fans.
Was it fun? Of course. Did I enjoy it? Of course. Will I see it again? Of course.
There’s a wave of negativity plaguing cinema and Warner has certainly felt it. Already the film has been panned by critics. I can’t imagine why. Suicide Squad is great fun. Again, don’t believe the critics and their intense scrutiny, the highlights far outweigh any issues. It’s not a celebration of bad people or villains but rather a tribute to outsiders. It’s a whirlwind film about redemption.
Suicide Squad is a small, but necessary step forward for the DC Universe and another towering moment in comic book geek culture.