Suicide Squad, DC’s and Warner Brothers’ last film for the year of 2016. With the end of the year comes the last chance for the studio to win over super hero fans until Wonder Woman’s stand alone film in 2017. So far the DC cinematic films have struggled to live up to their hype and have caused quite a toll on the DC brand. With faith quickly diminishing, the question on everyone’s mind is did Suicide Squad undo the harm Batman Vs Superman did to the DC Extened Universe? The answer to that question lies on the tastes of what a film gooer is looking for.
Suicide Squad shares many similarities with past DC films of its time. Like its predecessors Man of Steel and BvS, there is a lot of discord on the film. Some people may hate it, others will love it. For some reason with these DC films, there is no middle ground. You’re either a 27% like Batman V Superman or a 73% like the GhostBusters reboot. Herein lies the problem. The superhero fan and critic alike are rabid. You’re on one extreme or the other and when you put a score on a film and rate it below another which deserves much worse it gives the base film a much worse reputation than it deserves. Currently Suicide Squad has a score of 26% on Rotten Tomatoes. Is this score justified? No. Does the film have its issues? Yes. Unlike the film review aggregator site, this review will not take those scores into consideration because there is just something wrong about having Suicide Squad at an equal score with 2011’s Green Lantern. There will be no extreme right or wrong for this review. Even though there will be a score on this review, I’d suggest taking the words laid out more seriously than the score itself.
The story of Suicide Squad is one that has been done before. If you didn’t guess it by watching the trailers, then here is the short breakdown. In a world where metahumans, aka super powered beings, are becoming more and more prevalent, concerns arise on how public safety is to be maintained. Without a Superman to defend the planet, who could humans turn to in times of need? Who would humans turn to if a Superman like being turned against humanity? With a solution to that problem, US Intelligence Officer Amanda Waller builds a team of the world’s worst to take on the metahuman threat. Persuading the US government by using an eye opening demonstration by the witch of another dimension, Enchantress, Waller sets out to tame her new team labeled Task Force X. Led by Colonel Rick Flag, the worst of the worst find themselves bending to Waller’s will with the only way out being death. Of course not everything goes according to plan when you have several criminals under your command and Suicide Squad offers a nice refreshing view of the classic task force based film by adding characters with unique stories and abilities.
As said in the title of the review, this is a film for comic book fans. If you’re expecting a life changing story you’ll be sorely disappointed. This isn’t a Dark Knight level narrative and it becomes quite apparent when you realize it’s a save the world type of conflict. At most it’s comparable to films like Mad Maxx and Deadpool. Like Mad Maxx, this film won’t go on and pretend it’s trying to read you a passage out of the Odyssey. In Suicide Squad you’re going to see a team assemble, use their unique gifts, and see an edgier view of super powered beings. Like Deadpool, Suicide Squad offers short bursts of action accompanied with flashbacks detailing their abilities and eventual downfall that led them to prison. To some, the flash backs can be jarring seeing as how they happen mid conversation at times. If you had a problem with flashbacks in Deadpool, you’ll have a problem with them here too. Personally, I found no issue there and instead it lead me to wanting to see more of the origins behind each of the Task Force X members. Several characters like Katana and Captain Boomerang (don’t laugh), had little to no exposition. With nine characters in the team, spending just three minutes on their backgrounds would have led to near half an hour of flashbacks. Perhaps an Ultimate Edition release ala BvS will further develop some of the characters but for what was shown, Suicide Squad made newcomers familiar with the new faces in the DC Cinematic Universe.
The biggest battle the movie had was in deciding its own identity. Recent news rumored that Suicide Squad underwent a huge last minute change once the floodgates opened with BvS suffering horrid reviews. The shift is quite apparent early on with the way the first trailer introduces the film to the sequential trailers which are rock infused and action based. Originally, Suicide Squad appeared more narrative focused with emphasis on a gritty villain carried film. The serious undertone of the first trailer is misleading of the final cut shown off at theatres and in all honesty may have hurt the film in the long run. While a dark tone and atmosphere is not suitable for a Superman movie, it could have done just fine for a villain based movie. Unfortunately that isn’t found here. Throughout the film there aren’t many instances of these villains being crazed lunatics that cause havoc. Instead, we get these villains at a point in their lives in which they grow a heart and find honor. Quickly these serial killers find a bond in the short few days they are with each other. Something pretty unrealistic even for a comic book film. With the change of heart of the film and characters, the film loses a bit of its identity and goes back into being a super hero film.
Another example of the change in direction of the film is very apparent in the soundtrack. Unlike the first trailer, the sequential trailers for Suicide Squad sported outsourced musical pieces from famous artists. With the soundtrack being released before the films debut I feared the film would be hijacked by modern music. While a fan of a wide array of music, lately I had been falling out of the music scene. Something about Rihanna ushering the same words over and over made me lose faith in music. Luckily for the integrity of the film, most modern day songs were not present at all during the film. Instead of Lil Wayne booming throughout the theatre, The Rolling Stones and other similar classic hits echoed throughout the cinema. It wasn’t too distracting but at times several songs played right after the other and it started becoming obvious assists to the story telling. Eminem’s uttering of the words “guess who’s back” was less than welcomed by me, especially when re introducing a classic character to the silver screen. It’s here where the film editors must have not realized that everyone has the different musical tastes. While some of the pieces were fine by my standards, they may have not all resonated well with every audience member. An original score would have assisted in better promote the story telling. Alas the original composed music is hardly even present in the film.
It should also be mentioned that this is a Suicide Squad film. Other characters may appear on the film like Batman and Joker, but those are not the center points of the movie. At most you’ll have some fun watching them appear but at the same time it may be frustrating for those hoping to see those characters in action.
Story: 6/10 Nothing original story wise here but unique characters and abilities add a twist to the classic taskforce movie troupe.
While not an Oscar worthy performance, the film did have its moments of awe. Many of these villains are fan favorites and the idea of a film composed mostly of said villains was a dream come true for many. Did DC and Warner pull off the heist of the century and steal the hearts of the attendees? Let’s dive into some of the stand out performances by each character.
Harley Quinn: Perhaps the most iconic of the ensemble cast is Harley Quinn. For the first time in DC cinematic history, fans are treated to an accurate portrayal of the love crazed clown. Appearing first in the Batman Animated Series, Harley Quinn in Suicide Squad delivers a memorable performance. Fans of the animated show will quickly notice similar quirks to the animated counter part as Margot Robbie utters phrases many have come to know and love. Although not a apparent in the whole film, the famous Harley Quin accent does indeed exist in certain scenes. Fans of the character will have a fun time watching Robbie display Harley’s mannerisms.
The Joker: Let me just be upfront with this character, if you’re going to see Suicide Squad just for the Joker then I’d suggest reevaluating your decision. This isn’t a Joker film. You will see him in the film, in fact you’ll see him more than one of the cast members but I wouldn’t call him the centerfold of the film. The Joker is more of a literary tool that assists in describing Harley’s persona. That being said, Jared Leto as the Joker was a nice portrayal of the character. Adding a flamboyant charm to the character, Leto does a unique spin on the fan favorite. Of course, like said before, this isn’t a Joker movie. There wasn’t enough provided in the film to fully dictate in which direction Leto’s Joker was going. For example, this version of the Joker was a lot more like a love sick puppy wanting to find his partner. This is where it strays from some of the source material. In the source material the Joker is a lot more violent towards his partner in crime, Harley. Suicide Squad only shows small bursts of that side of the relationship between the Joker and Harley. Leto has admitted in interviews that several scenes of his had been cut. One of those scenes leaked and shows the more brutal side of the relationship showcasing the Joker smacking Harley to the ground. With the outcry of past films being too dark, perhaps it was a good choice to cut that from the final cut.
Deadshot: “Hey look it’s Will Smith” is what everyone said when they first realized he would play the character Deadshot. That sentiment is not lost while watching Suicide Squad. In fact Will Smith owns the role and pretty much carries the film with his usual charisma. One of the best scenes in the movie is Deadshot taking the lead and showing the rest of the team how its done via a storm of bullets. If you told me to describe the qualities of Deadshot I would just name out Will Smith. While not a dynamic performance, Smith’s acting was well received by me. One of the traits Deadshot brought to Smith was a sailor mouth. Deadshot’s quips had the entire theatre laughing and that itself was something Smith doesn’t often demonstrate in his line of work. Well done but overall, fans of the original Deadshot persona will most likely leave the theatre disappointed or won over by Smith’s charm.
Captain Boomerang: With a quicker tongue than Deadshot, Jai Courtney as Captain Boomerang delivered humor that made up for his lack of presence in the film. In a drastic new direction in acting since his last blockbuster hit Terminator Genisys, Suicide Squad sees the actor as a rowdy hot headed Australian villain. Captain Boomerang is a slimy man looking out for number one. Unfortunately for potential fans, the name Captain Bomerang can be a bit misleading. The final cut of the film hardly had any projectile action. At most we got to see the captain throw a boomerang in an unexpected manner. Perhaps in the future we may see his return in a DC movie, after all, he is an arch enemy of the Flash.
Enchantress : Perhaps my favorite character in the film and now favorite villain in all comics. You would think being surrounded by cool intimidating villains like the Joker, Deadshot, and Harley Quinn would drown out the lesser known characters but instead the Enchantress places a spell on you and wins you over. Played by Cara Delevingne, Enchantress is a witch from another dimension that has lived for centuries. Introducing magic to the DC Universe, the Enchantress makes for a unique character not seen in many comic book movies. In fact, one of her introductory scenes demonstrates her jaw dropping abilities. Visually speaking, this character brings originality not seen in other comic book films. Compared to a character like Marvel’s Loki, Enchantress is a more deadly character and visually enticing in the way she demonstrates her abilities.
El Diablo: Earlier I mentioned how quickly these characters have a change of heart, there is no greater example of that than the character El Diablo. With a burst of flames, El Diablo sets any momentum that film had at serious acting down the drain. Most lines delivered by Jay Hernandez were cringe worthy most. As a Hispanic, I couldn’t resist but to even criticize his Spanish accent. I mean it’s pretty obvious that it’s not his preferred language and makes Spanish driven lines into irreverence because of them. Acting issues aside, the character El Diablo itself was pretty cool. Being unfamiliar with the character, seeing the things El Diablo could do put a smile on this face.
Amanda Waller: If you grew up watching the Justice League animated show on Cartoon Network and get your impression of what the character Amanda Waller stands for from that show then you’ll be happily surprised that Viola Davis delivered the perfect rendition of that character. If there is any beacon of light in the movie it’s Amanda Waller, sure she is crueler than the villains in the movie but that’s who Waller is. A controlling, manipulative defender of justice. She will do whatever it takes to defend her country and it shows best by the actions she takes in this film. Love her or hate her, she is the master of her craft.
While I would love to go into detail about Katana, Slipknot, Killer Croc, and Rick Flag the leader of the team, not enough time was given to deliver a lasting impression. With only two hours being included in the final cut, the task of assembling and promoting the cast was too daunting for DC and Warner Brothers to handle.
Characters 7/10: Really cool and unique characters carry what could have been a mediocre film to greatness. Unfortunately, not enough screen time was given for some characters and El Diablo couldn’t keep up with the star studded cast.
In the end a lot of hype was surrounding the film. It didn’t hit all the right notes to make it an instant classic but it was a fun ride. The public has already made the decision to stone the film due to its poor reviews. As said in the intro, don’t buy into the harsh criticisms. Suicide is far from perfect but it’s not something that deserves such terrible reviews. At most I would say Suicide Squad is a far better movie than Captain America: The First Avenger and Iron Man 3. Did it undo the harm Batman V Superman did? No. Suicide Squad would have needed to be perfect in order to do that. What it did do is renew this reviewer’s outlook on potential DC films. Take with that what you may and enjoy the film for what it is, a comic book movie for comic book fans.
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