Suicide Squad (2016) Review

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We, as a collective world, are knee-deep in super hero movies for the 2016 cinematic year. Which also means that nerds across the globe have been able to argue back and forth all year long as to which camp, Marvel or DC produces better films. From a critical reception standpoint, you have to give it to Marvel/Disney as they seem to be pumping out films in their tried and true format that appeals to the widest audience. DC has made some definitive strides in their universe, say what you want about BvS as a film, but there is no question that it accomplished one of its major purposes effectively. And that purpose was to create and push forward a universe to call its own– to introduce characters, story plots, villains and more… And if you have seen the extended cut of BvS, you can even argue that it did it with some style.

But over all, the film was a critical failure, with a heavy and dark tone that turned a lot of people off to the theatrical release of the film. And that says nothing of the poor editing and jumpy stor that was involved. The film left a lot of people disappointed and even worried about the future of the DCCU. Others, like myself, turned to Suicide Squad in hopes that it could deliver a lighter and more fun tone to the universe and put DC, as a whole, back on track. But unfortunately, from a critic-standpoint, it has done little to nothing to push DC forward, receiving only a 26% on RottenTomatoes.  I am, however, inclined to disagree with popular critical consensus in this case, not completely because some complaints are well founded but, I believe the movie was a lot of fun, it nailed a lot of the core characters and it was action packed in all the right places.

Synopsis

Figuring they’re all expendable, a U.S. intelligence officer decides to assemble a team of dangerous, incarcerated supervillains for a top-secret mission. Now armed with government weapons, Deadshot (Will Smith), Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie), Captain Boomerang, Killer Croc and other despicable inmates must learn to work together. Dubbed Task Force X, the criminals unite to battle a mysterious and powerful entity, while the diabolical Joker (Jared Leto) launches an evil agenda of his own.

imageThere were a number of things I was afraid of when they first announced the cast of the film. He first one was whether or not Will Smith could play dead shot without attempting to eclipse the rest of the cast– a lot of what goes into make a super hero ‘team’ work effectively on the silver screen is the ability of the cast to feel well-rounded and balanced. While RDJ is a standout in the MCU, in an Avengers movie he meshes well with the over all cast. I was afraid Smith would demand center stage and Rin the film. I love Smith as an actor, but there is a reason he almost always refuses to star in a film if he isn’t THE LEAD. And while his rendition of Deadshot was a pretty heavy main character, he didn’t eclipse a year if the other important characters and he even paired well with Margot Robbie, as Harley Quinn, and Jai Courtney as Captain Boomerang. He played the role with his usual ‘Smith-y’ charm, but it worked well for the final product of the movie.

imageAnother [obvious] issue that I had with the film was them trying to do a new and different Joker. Ledger’s version has become such an iconic style tha I didn’t want them to copy it, only to come up short. Or, worse, try something totally different and have to be utterly terrible. I thought it was a big gamble for a film that really didn’t NEED the joker character to make an effective film. And as much as I would love to give you a definitive answer to the question of “does Leto pull off The Joker”, it would be really unfair for me to do so. Because, quite honestly, he really wasn’t in the film all tha mic for me to judge. However, what I did see from him was very good and surprisingly entertaining. After seeing Suicide Squad, I would have to say that I’d be pumped to see Leto’s rendition in a full-on Batman film (with Quinn of course) if for no other reason than for DC to flesh out the character more. If you’re expecting a super dark Ledger-esque style Joker than you might have it but Leto’s  rendition of the iconic character felt a lot like  a more Gangster-fied version of the animated series Joker that I grew up watching. Again, he wasn’t in the film as much as you would want, so i can’t guarantee tha the direction they took with his character will continue, but if it does, Leto has my stamp of approval.

imageMargot Robbie was PERFECT as Harley Quinn, by the way. Both in voice, mannerisms, everything– she had me sold on the character from the beginning. She, like Smith, has most of the screen time in this film but I would also say that, if that was not the case, the movie might have suffered greatly for it. She brought a level of humor, bad ass-ness and fun to the role. There is an argument to be made that, with the exception of Robert Downey Jr. And Ledger, no one has owned a comic book role well as Robbie did for Harley Quinn, at least in m [humble] opinion. And her scenes with Leto quite nearly steal the show– they has tons of on-screen chemistry and it was exciting to see her flashbacks of her own origins unfold. Again, like Leto, when it came to the back stories of Quinn, the film left you wanting more. So hopefully DC takes the hint and gives us more in the future!

imageThe rest of the cast did a solid job, I actually didn’t have Jai Courtney in this movie which is a plus. He was damn funny as Captain Boomerang and I hope to see more of this character in the future as well. The only downside when it comes to the other members of the squad is that they’d take a bit of a back ground to make way for the bigger stars in the movie. That, and I really didn’t care for the guy playing Rick Flag. I’m not sure if it was a writing issue or an acting issue, but his lines and line deliver were so generic and cliche– and his range of emotion was non-existent. They’d could have literally cast ANYONE in tha role and it would have been the same or even better. And a surprise standout for me was The character of Diablo, played by Jay Hernandez. I seriously haven’t seen him in anything in years and now he has popped up in my last two movie reviews, weird. But he brought a lot of charm to Diablo and by the end of the film even won me over. To be honest, I feel like DC really wasted his character for the future. It makes me sad.

One of two major faults of the film has to do with the main villain in the film, Enchantress. She has one of the coolest entrances ever, by the way (hand flip), but after that first entrance, her character declines for me. She changes, at one point in the film, to her more ‘natural’ form– and then after that, every time you see her all of her movements are so dramatic and over-the-top to the point of being comic relief. If you have ever played DC Universe Online– and have witnessed one of the floor bosses, in a cute scene, doing some random movements while talking, you pretty much have a mental depiction of her character over all. This is saved, briefly, in the end when’s he transforms back to her original form, temporarily, to fight the suicide squad. But over all she was a wasted character tha would have been better served as a bad ass team member rather than a villain.

imageThe other major fault is how the film handles the introduction to the characters. They re-introduced the same characters between two and three times in the beginning of the film and honestly, it really made the film kind of drag. It honestly takes a while for this film to get started and it’s precisely due to how poorly the introductions were handled in the movie. His also makes it hard to be a gauge of elapsed time in the film. It feels like most of the events of the film take place in one day, rather than taking place over a weeks-span.

Look, the bottom line is, don’t go into this movie expecting a great story, you won’t find it here and you will disappoint yourself. This film is very character driven And has tons of fun with said character. I’ve seen the movie three times already and enjoyed it every single time, it has rewatchability  for sure so long as you properly manage expectations.  David Ayer did a great job casting and the actors did a great job, with some exceptions, playing these inane bunch of characters. The end result isn’t perfection, but it is a damn good time nonetheless.

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