The DC universe of movies has been put under a lot of scrutiny. Man of Steel received mixed responses and Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice was very divisive between fans and critics alike. This franchise of films needed something to dig itself out of the hole, but frankly Suicide Squad is not that movie.
In Suicide Squad, Amanda Waller(Viola Davis) sees the emerging threat of meta-humans and wants to assemble a team of the most dangerous criminals to combat such dangers. With this, the government can send this “Task Force X” on high risk missions with no consequences for themselves. The first twenty to thirty minutes of this movie is dedicated to setting up these characters such as hitman Deadshot( Will Smith), crazy and violent Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie), demon-possessed Enchantress ( Cara Delevingne), pyro-induced El Diablo (Jay Hernandez), human crocodile Killer Croc (Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje), the psychotic Captain Boomerang (Jai Courtney), and the leader of this team Rick Flag (Joel Kinnaman).
The standouts from this Suicide Squad are easily Deadshot and Harley Quinn. Will Smith brings a real charisma in to this that makes him endearing and fun to watch. His backstory is a little generic and is really thrown in your face making it a bit cheesy. But his complacent nature is charming and really makes the film enjoyable. Margot Robbie on the other hand does a great job of bringing the Joker’s girlfriend to life. She gets the crazy side of the character right, and excellently portrays her obsession with the Joker. Some of her one-liners don’t really land and feel out of place, but her bubbly yet estranged nature keeps interest in the movie.
Viola Davis does a solid job as Amanda Waller, as she is able to bring a strong and scary presence as a person who can manipulate others into doing what she wants.
The other characters were just mundane and are given little to no backstory. Captain Boomerang is kind of useless on this team, and he really doesn’t use boomerangs as often as his name might have you believe. Killer Croc is basically just some added muscle for the team and there’s no heart or connection with his character. El Diablo is a character the movie tries to have you sympathize with, but his backstory is forced and hard to care about when it’s so late in the movie. Katana was just forced into this movie and is given almost no characterization other than a lady with a sword.
Enchantress and Rick Flag were the least developed and by that end, the worst characters in the movie. Enchantress is just bland as she is just a generic witch shouting loud spells. She’s also highly sexualized as she must kiss men to put them under her spell and acts as a love interest to Rick Flag. Rick Flag is supposed to lead this team, yet he isn’t given the domineering presence to command a group of criminals. He lacks conviction and leadership, and is really only there because Waller told him too and due to his affection for Enchantress.
The setup of these characters is perhaps the best part of the movie, but once that is done the plot starts to go downhill from there. These characters are sent on a vague mission with no clear indication of what it is or how they will accomplish it.. The plot is very generic as the squad needs to get from point A to point B and destroy some generic world-annihilating villain to save the world. The action is decent, but it just sort of happens to fill time as there are really no stakes with the henchman they fight. It is never really explained why this particular group of people was needed for this particular mission.
A direct quote from Amanda Waller is “the next war will be fought with these metahumans, ours or theirs.” It is interesting then that the Suicide Squad only has about two metahumans and the rest of them are just human. It made me think why they were the ones being sent on this mission instead of someone like the Flash or even the Justice League. Yes, I understand the Justice League is coming, but it just doesn’t seem right that these group of people would be sent to stop the world from ending. The squad is pretty ill-equipped to deal with such a threat no matter how generic.
One of the big things this movie was selling was a new interpretation of the Joker (Jared Leto), but he is not in the movie that much. This did not really bother me since I was not expecting the Joker to be a huge factor in this movie. However, the scenes he is in do feel a little out of place and are cut short, giving you the feeling the studio cut some of his scenes to shorten the run time. From what I saw of him I was fine with. The movie focuses more on the relationship he has with Harley Quinn and how those two interact. It is those scenes which I really liked, but we are never told how Quinn could fall in love with such a heinous criminal. Leto does not really have the eerie presence of Heath Ledger, but his prison mob boss interpretation is interesting and I am intrigued to see where they take this character( hopefully in the Batman solo movie).
With the Joker’s limited involvement in the film we again have to sit through another common, destroy all humans type of villain we have seen in previous superhero films. The motive is generic and their time in the movie is completely wasted and instantly forgettable. The Suicide Squad in the comics encounter missions in other countries to take out people that the real superheroes could not touch without causing controversy. The threat in this movie just feels like Malekith from Thor: The Dark World or Ronan from Guardians of the Galaxy, when the secret squad’s talents could have been used elsewhere.
This band of misfits does not need to make us feel valiant like the Justice League would, but we should feel some connection with this team! We are told constantly that this group of people are the worst of the worst but then it completely flips to show us that they are not so bad. It is very sloppy as the team lacks cohesion and some members only serve as extra muscle instead of integral parts to the team. There is tension with this team, but the movie skips over it instead of giving us insight into the dynamics of this group.
The movie also tries to be more humorous, while it is welcome it does not always land. Deadshot, Quinn, and even Captain Boomerang have some good one-liners but they sometimes feel out of place with the situation that they are in. Some of the lines are very cheesy and at one point, I face-palmed myself at how corny a line was. The dialogue and writing needed one extra read through as it was sometimes cringe worthy at how out of place it was.
Suicide Squad is essentially a funny, lighthearted mess. It is different than Batman v Superman, embracing a new tone and has a lot of fun with its characters especially in the first act. Deadshot and Harley Quinn are real standouts and I hope they are in future DC films. The rest of the cast is just mediocre with Enchantress and Rick Flag being entirely one-dimensional. The movie lacks depth and its plot fizzles as it goes down the list of cliche twists and villains. While it is exciting to see a new interpretation of the Joker and his relationship with Harley Quinn, Leto is not given enough screen time to show what he is truly capable of. The premise of this movie is fascinating and is certainly able to bring a good number of people in, but the circumstances are just not right for this batch of misfits. With another disappointing entry in the DC universe, I really hope that future movies can bring the spark this franchise needs.