Movie Review: Suicide Squad!

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MOVIE REVIEW!

The latest installment of the DC Cinematic Universe is here! Will Suicide Squad help right the ship, or is it another leak in the hull? Find out now!

Suicide_Squad_(film)_PosterSuicide Squad (2016)

Starring: Will Smith, Margot Robie, Viola Davis, Joel Kinnaman, Jared Leto, Jai Courtney

Directed by: David Ayer

MINOR SPOILERS

Now more than ever, Suicide Squad needs to be a hit. After the “successful failure” of Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice, all eyes are on David Ayers’ new superhero film. The second of Warner Bros’ DC films, Suicide Squad would be a risky move regardless of how Batman V Superman was received. From the Joker’s tattoos to the look of some of the characters, there was plenty to be worried about when it came to this movie. It’s focused on a team of villains that we’ve largely never met before, and it’s going to be the second move that WB releases for their DC movies? Add in the news of reshoots and poor to mixed early reviews, it’s no surprise that some people are very hesitant to give WB another chance with their hard-earned dollars. And while they are right to be a little hesitant, Suicide Squad’s real strength lies in its characters.

Look, Suicide Squad is a bit of a messy film. It’s rushed, has two (or three) introductory scenes for Deadshot alone, and the main villain is pretty lame. But the strength of its cast helps elevate it above the train wreck that the Tomatometer would have you believe it to be. This is one of those movies where the performances by the cast and the charm of the characters help elevate a movie that, under any other circumstances, would’ve been another stumble for Warner Bros’ DC films.

viola-davisIf you somehow couldn’t piece it together from the trailer, Suicide Squad is the newest DC expanded universe film, where Government Agent Amanda Waller (played by Viola Davis, who oozes badassery) assembles a super black ops task force of some of the worst criminals in the world. Since Superman has died, she believes that she’d rather have a group of “metahumans” that she can control than wait for another one to pop up that might fall in line with her beliefs. This Squad goes on missions that are sure to kill or maim them, but if they survive they get time shaved off their lengthy prison sentences. With her plan finally approved by the higher ups in the Pentagon, she assembles a crew to help her incapacitate The Enchantress (Cara Delevingne), her first “recruit” that has now gone rogue.

That’s essentially the plot in a nutshell, and getting from point A to point B involves some weird detours and a few jumps in logic, and if I’m completely honest, you can kind of guess where it’s going to go. After a stellar opening act that sets up the different members with cool onscreen graphics and a quick recap of their history (and how they got under Waller’s control), the movie starts to loose steam once Enchantress’ plan starts moving forward. Going from a creepy cave witch to someone who looks like they walked out of the character creator in World of Warcraft, Develingne is really the film’s weakest link, and it makes you wish that David Ayer would’ve taken another look at the script and tried to come up with something better for her to do. Instead, she just stares into a beam of light shooting up into the sky and gyrates around it until the Squad catches up to her (yes, this is another superhero movie that has a giant beam of light shooting up into the sky, and yes, it was old 3 movies ago).

However, the strength of Suicide Squad isn’t in the plot. Hell, if I’m being honest, it’s not even in David Ayer’s directing. It’s in the performances of the Squad members, specifically Will Smith’s Deadshot, Margot Robie’s Harley Quinn, and Jai Courtney’s Captain Boomerang.

Yes, I’m aware I just praised Jai Courtney. It’s weird for me too.

Seriously though, Courtney’s Boomerang offers a lot of weird, off kilter fun that helps bring a lighter touch that previous Warner Bros DCEU movies were sorely missing. He’s not in the movie nearly as much as he should be, but the scenes he’s in are a ton of fun, and he seems to be having a blast playing this psycho. All Boomerang really cares about is beer and money, and watching his crazy, Wild E Coyote eyes take in the chaos around him is really entertaining.

Will Smith brings a new angle to Floyd Lawton, aka the mercenary known as Deadshot. There’s an incredible opening sequence with him that will be sure to melt fans of the Dark Knight’s brains, and while it’s a little odd having a character that wants to die in the comics be suddenly turned into a caring father, Will Smith absolutely delivers the charm needed. He’s having fun in the role, and helps sell Lawton’s drive to be a part of Waller’s mission.

MV5BMTk1ODM0MTAwMl5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwNjIzMTk1ODE@._V1_Also having fun is Margot Robie’s Harley Quinn. Bringing a character I’ve loved since I was six years old to the big screen was not going to be an easy task, and I’ll admit to be a little apprehensive going into this movie, but I have to say, Robie steals the show. Not all of her jokes land, but she gives Harley the cinematic treatment she’s long deserved, and strikes just the right tone. Much like the use of Deadpool in his solo movie this year, Harley could’ve easily been annoying or over the top, but she’s used perfectly in this movie.

Of course, I can’t get this far into this review without bringing up the elephant in the room: Jared Leto’s Joker. There have been countless articles discussing his “method acting” to prepare for the role, from sending Margot Robie a rat to giving the whole cast a dead pig. After watching all the promotional materials and hype, you’d probably be surprised to find that he’s in the movie for about 15 minutes (and that’s probably being generous). Mainly he’s around for flashbacks and to try and get Harley back, and that’s the extent of his appearances in the movie. He doesn’t even interact with any of the other Squad members, which kind of makes you wonder why they even bothered to hype him up so much in the first place.

placeholder_gallery-1453728768-jared-leto-joker-suicide-squadWith that in mind, I honestly can’t give an opinion on his portrayal of my all time favorite villain. There are aspects to his performance that I really enjoyed (this Joker definitely has no problem with tearing down your ideas of being a “tough guy”) and some that I didn’t (he seemed a little too obsessed with Harley, as opposed to being obsessed with Batman). But there wasn’t anything here that struck me as being too out of character for the Joker (except for the tattoos of course). If he was given a bit more screen time he might make a bigger impression, and in retrospect Ayer probably would’ve been better off making HIM the villain. As of right now though he’s not the best Joker (Mark Hamill, forever and always), but he’s definitely not the worst either.

It’s a shame that Suicide Squad has had a ton of extra pressure put upon it after the release of Batman V Superman. You can definitely tell that there was some studio pressure and recuts being made on this to try and make it into a more “marketable” hit. Warner Bros wants to have a brand that will compete with Marvel, but they’ve also said that they want each of their movies to have a distinct director’s vision, and that’s where a lot of the problems with Suicide Squad come from. The soundtrack definitely feels like they’re trying to tap into Guardians of the Galaxy, and at times you can tell that scenes and characters were cut or shortened for time. Warner Bros is still figuring out this whole “shared universe” thing, and they’re going to have to learn quick that they’re going to have to either let directors do their thing and have each movie be slightly different, or hire people that they can easily push around so every movie “fits”. There aren’t as many moving parts as in Batman V Superman, but you can definitely feel just as much studio pressure, and it’s hard for it to live up to being a movie it was never intended to be.

But at the same time, this is a movie that introduces some pretty fun characters, and their interactions with one another really do work. It’s not the movie that WB probably should’ve released, but it’s a step in the right direction for their future films. There’s plenty of problems to be had, but when you compare Suicide Squad to a majority of the other films that have been released this summer, it has some very entertaining moments. At the very least, I really want to see Captain Boomerang, Harley Quinn, and Deadshot appear in a future DC movie, so that’s gotta count for something.

VERDICT: B-

Jonwahizzle is a comic book slinger for Jetpack Comics Find him on PSN (Jonwahizzle), follow him on twitter and check out his blog, The Collective: Examples of Nerdery for more!

11 thoughts on “Movie Review: Suicide Squad!

  1. Good review. I didn’t have much hope for this film, nor did I have much interest. The marketing around the classic rock, Harley and Joker left a bad taste in my mouth. It gives me the idea that WB doesn’t know what they’re doing. I left BvS really mad that the film was such a let down, and I wasn’t about to give WB anymore of my money.

    I know these are just movies and taking a personal stance about what I will and won’t see is very egocentric, but voting with my wallet because that’s ultimately what controls things.

    I want Justice League to be good. I want to be akin to the Justice League cartoon, that’s fun, action-packed, and creates a team dymanic between these beloved and powerful characters.

    Anyway, I’m done rambling. Good review 🙂

  2. I just got back and it was good. I can see all the comparisons to Guardians of the Galaxy with the soundtrack and reluctant heroes, but it was not as good/charming as Guardians. I liked it better than Man of Steel and BvS, so I hope DC is getting things moving in the right direction.

    I still do not like this version of the Joker. I think it is based on his appearance, the silver teeth, tattoos etc…, that make him come of as someone trying too hard to be crazy. Maybe when he becomes the main villain in the Batman movie it will click for me.

  3. I have yet to see the movie, but in my mind the Joker stands out because he doesn’t seem all that intimidating until his gears start turning and he goes from a weird person into a terrifying maniac who lacks certain rational senses. Like in Batman TAS the Joker is very playful until he gets upset and that’s when the real crazy comes out. In the Dark Knight he’s got a very calm demeanor and looks like a hobo with facepaint who carries himself in a very unintimidating way, but when he gets into it and the crazy turns on he becomes a truly terrifying man who is devoid of remorse and will do anything to amuse himself. This Joker doesn’t seem to have any of the humor and just be over doing the crazy. Rather than having the funny on the outside and the crazy on the inside, he just straight up looks like a drug mercenary with face paint. I feel like the Joker has to give the impression of he himself being a joke until he turns on his crazy charm for him to be the Joker, otherwise he’s just another deranged lunatic. As others have said he seems like a Joker grunt who is themed like the Joker but doesn’t actually agree with making comedy over success.

  4. Just came from it a few hours ago. Went into it expecting it to be entertaining trash but I was pleasantly surprised when I found myself genuinely enjoying it. I’ll chalk that up to being swept away in the music and flashy character intros and I’m pretty damn sure it won’t hold up nearly as much under a second viewing. God, I’m kind of dreading viewing it again as the third act was pretty terrible. Everyone switches motives for absolutely no reason.

    As for The Joker, I was willing to give it a chance but i found him really pointless and almost satirical. What a waste.

  5. I saw this Thursday night and really enjoyed it. The cast defiantly sold the film and I think more than made up for the films weaknesses. As far as the Joker is concerned, I would have liked to have seen more of him to develop more of an opinion as well. I’m hoping this does well enough to get a sequel.

    I also liked the Flash’s appearance. I’m still not sold on that outfit but the character seems spot on so far.

  6. I really enjoyed it. It’s a fun little action movie with a very fun group of characters, and it’s not a huge event movie, and I’m fine with all that. I agree with your assessment Deadshot, Harley, and Captain Boomerang. I also thought Killer Croc was nicely understated too, and Diablo being the most powerful but the only one ashamed of being bad. I also liked how Katana was kinda the main badass of the movie. Amanda Waller was a real evil piece of work too.

    Joker I honestly really liked, even if he could’ve done with some proper expansion into the plot for real. The Assault on Arkham animated movie was a perfect mesh of Suicide Squad, Joker and Batman so I wish we’d got something closer to that at least in terms of Joker and Batman.

    Oh yes, Batman. In his few scenes Batman was straight, perfect, comic book Batman, not the silly overkill BvS version. I also nearly screamed with joy at the other surprise DC cameo in Captain Boomerang’s flashback.

    Complaints? It was certainly a bit disjointed and moved a bit too quickly in parts, and yes Enchantress and the Adversary didn’t work as the main villain, as cool as their powers occasionally were. Still, it did the job.

    Going to see it again this Tuesday and I’m looking forward to it.

  7. I watched it last night. Overall it’s the best DCEU movie yet. It had it’s problems but I like the cast’s performances, the costume designs and tone of the film.

    Enchantress was awesome at the beginning. I love her weird ash and sparks look and creepy movements. Her transformation in the pentagon was so spooky and great and then she disappeared for most of the movie and became boring at the end.

    Leto’s Joker is probably my fifth favorite Joker but that’s not surprising given the greatness of the ones above him. I do like what he’s doing though. His take is unique and the relationship between him and Harley is a side of Joker we haven’t seen before. Despite the reviewer wanting him to be more obsessed with Batman, I like that it isn’t trying to be the same Joker as before. The movie left me wanting to see him more of him.

    The rest of the cast was hit and miss. Some of what Harley said was funny but other things felt awkward and fell flat. Deadshot wasn’t coldblooded enough. Flag wasn’t badass enough. Diablo’s transition to a friend to every body felt forced. Croc was nonexistent but not as nonexistent as Slipknot. Boomerang felt like a background character.

    I had fun with the movie though. Good times.

  8. I’ve seen it, and I didn’t like it. The main problem for this movie is the basic premise of the plot. You got a city wide attack by an extremely powerful metahuman with her own army. And then you got a team of criminals, which consist of a sexy girl who can hit people with a hammer, a girl who can hit people with a sword, a guy who can hit people with a boomerang, a guy who can climb buildings and can make his head explode, a guy who can shoot people, a guy who can swim and a metahuman who won’t use his powers cause he’s emo. While this is a world where the American government knows of the existence of Batman, Flash, Aquaman and Wonder Woman. Then why would you send these guys?

    You would use the Suicide Squad for in infiltration mission or a black ops mission abroad, but in this movie, they are just send in to clear op the mess which was made in the first place because there was a Suicide Squad. That Enchantres blows up the whole place is first and foremost because Amanda Waller is an idiot (she is the only one with a death switch for Enchantres, but she can’t activate is because she’s asleep when Rick Flag calls for help) .

    And still, the composition of the team is broken to the core. It becomes clear pretty fast that Captain Boomerang, Ripcord, Killer Croc, Katana and Harley Quinn are useless in a battle of this scale, or at least no more useful then a well trained marine. With Deadshot and Diablo as the exceptions, if the latter would use his freaking powers. And even that you could say they where at least expendable instead of a well trained marine, then why are they accompanied by at least a dozen marines? Who all die off screen making sure the Suicide Squad can go where they should go? It just doesn’t add up.

    Joker is complete waste, and in mine opinion, one of the worst Joker depictions ever. The main thing about the Jokers existence and personality is that he mainly exists to fuck up Batmans life, but here, he is no more than a flashy gangster who runs on meth, but who in practice is not that more threatening than a movie depiction of a gangster as we seen in movies like the Equalizer or Triple 9. Who isn’t in this movie fulled by his love for chaos, his desire to bring down Batman of just going on a madman’s rampage, but instead wants to help Harley cause he wants to be with her, while Harley’s deepest desire is to have a normal, atomic-family life with a well adjusted Joker. It’s just goes against everything those characters have been made up for the past 70 years.

    And there are so many problems with this movie. The music is at moments atrocious and changes this movie in a wanna-bee Guardians of the Galaxy, Joel Kinnaman is strait up boring, characters change their motivation and personality on the fly, at least 30 minutes of scene’s is cut from the movie, the final fight is shot really bad in a cloud of mist, Enchantress spells look like huula dancing, it uses stills from the Justice League trailer as profile pictures and I could go on for some time being a negative nancy.

    While I have no desire to see this movie ever again, I must say that at least it isn’t boring. It keeps up the tempo and it doesn’t delve in politics or loose plot threads like Man of Steel and Batman vs. Superman, so you got at least that going for it. Deadshot got some very good scene’s, Margot Robbie is at least always fun to watch because she is Margot Robbie and while the first 20 minutes are over-produced so it could have some of the ‘Deadpool-vibe’, it is at least entertaining. But for the most part it just shows that Warner Brothers handling of the DC universe is just rotten to the core.

    1. I agree with this mostly. It also felt like the ‘Squad’ [apart from Smith and Robbie] hardly ever spoke directly to each other or built any real comradery . The bar scene showed glimpes of this but apparently it was massively edited. I felt the dialogue was mostly poor and the jokes flat out not funny.

      I really wanted to like this film, and am happy for people that did but I just didn’t enjoy it.

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