Synopsis – A secret government agency recruits a group of imprisoned supervillains to execute dangerous black ops missions in exchange for clemency, which inevitably leads to chaos.
My Take – This one has been the long gestating DC Comics film that every single fan on the planet has been waiting for. From the controversial casting of Jared Leto as the Joker to the rumored re-shoots, this is a film that has been on everyone’s minds for the past two years since it was announced. I was beyond excited for this movie. From being a fan of the comic series to David Ayer directing (I loved End of Watch and Fury) to the cast (Margot Robbie and Will Smith) and then those trailers which were just fantastic. Everything I saw ahead of time said that this movie was going to be awesome and it would be the one to put the DC universe on track (Even though I still think Batman V Superman was not that bad especially the Ultimate Cut). Then the bad reviews came out and my hopes and expectations were completely dashed. So I went in with low expectations, ready to be ridiculed for being a DC supporter. So, how does it hold up? I would say a mix bag of yes and no. Yes, the film doesn’t shine at all in terms of physical aspects, or even other elements that usually constitutes for a film to get high critical ratings all around. The editing is sloppy, the plot is second-rate, and more could have been done about the setting. In essence, the movie can objectively be considered as ‘shoddy’. But what saves it is its high entertainment value. The movie is unlike a typical superhero movie where average Joe discovers superpowers, defeats the super villain and restores peace in the lovely city of movie world. No! It’s about a group of outlawed super-humans who are used as weapons to fight against terrorism. A band of bad guys fighting a common enemy; kinda sounds like the DC version of the Avengers, but with bad guys who are immensely likable!
The story follows the questionably-ethical government agent, Amanda Walker (Viola Davis), front runner of the government division A.R.G.U.S, who following the events of Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice, convinces the government to recruit a bunch of locked up super villains to carry out special black ops missions in exchange of reduced sentences. Code named Task Force X, the team consists of expert marksman Floyd Lawton / Deadshot (Will Smith), the randy and dangerous Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie), rugged, unpredictable and mouthy Captain Boomerang (Jai Courtney), fire-conjuring ex gang member El Diablo (Jay Hernandez), a lizard skinned cannibal with rage issues Killer Croc (Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje) and an assassin expert in tactical grappling and scaling Slipknot (Adam Beach). Led by Col. Rick Flag (Joel Kinnaman) and assisted by expert martial artist and swords woman Katana (Karen Fukuhara) and Lt. GQ Edwards (Scott Eastwood), the teams mission is to extract a person of high value from Midway City and to stop Enchantress (Cara Delevingne), a powerful ancient sorceress who has possessed archaeologist Dr. June Moone. Most sane operatives would not touch this group, much less give them license to kill, but these are desperate times because bad must beat bad as good has gone AWOL. Meanwhile, the Joker (Jared Leto) is making his own plans to break his lover Harley out from the clutches of Waller. What ensues is full of explosions and innumerable rounds of bullets, and oh, yes, a nice touch of a very sharp sword. If you can wade through the cacophony and carnage, there are a few lines like the one at the head of this essay worth noting and another: “It’s taken me some time, but I finally have them. The worst of the worst.” (Amanda Walker). The second act is heavily influenced by Carpenter‘s Escape From New York, it’s them in a desolate place, with their lives at stake, and what pretty much feels like a no win situation, just lake Snake Plisskin had all them years ago. This is where the bad guys and the good guys start to get a little bit of a mutual respect for each other, thanks to the relationship between Smith and Kinnerman, their banter is excellent, and the second act is as action packed and as funny as you’d expect, with The Jokers shadow hanging heavily over the narrative. The third act is very reminiscent of the final act of the original Ghostbusters, and this is where the majority of the Squad come into their own, especially Diablo. And for once, the trailers haven’t given anything about the narrative away, the actual story, as flimsy as it is is pretty surprising, as I thought it was centered around Leto‘s Joker. After the mess, called BvS, I am glad to say that this film changes a lot. It shows that DC doesn’t always have to make overly serious films, but can have a little fun with it too. While I like Marvel films too, they are sometimes a little bit too childish (except for the Captain America films), the humor can feel out of place and well let’s face it, sometimes you need a superhero/villain film for adults like Deadpool did. Directed by David Ayer the audience is quickly introduced to the squad. Here the DC fans might just nod a long, but for the common folks, this is necessary built-up. When it starts, everything goes well. The exposition sets up an anticipation that the next hour and fifty minutes are going to be a blast. However, the first act ends and the zany plot begins almost instantly when the conflict and villain are simultaneously revealed. From then on, I still continued to thoroughly enjoy the movie, despite it abounding with flaws and all. The thing is that, to like the movie, you have to accept the silly premise and realize that it’s purpose wasn’t to become a celebrated film, or even a great blockbuster of the year. It’s about a team of assembled “supervillains” taking on a crazy supernatural entity laying waste to the city. The whole concept made for a refreshingly simple action picture from what we’ve come to normally expect from most recent movies – including comic book ones – that must always be fixed with some contrived narrative. So you have to sort of dim your brain, in a way. If you look at the movie subjectively, it could be looked at as being “good” akin to certain movies like the 2012 “Dredd” or something (except maybe with worse editing). Batman’s and Flash appearance in the movie are fun, and it really shows how quickly DC wants to move forward in to the universe.
Even though I do agree its time WB-DC better start taking it slow. Just like BvS, this film is another example of a film being disturbed due to studio interference. The editing is all over the place especially in the final hour, with random sequences popping in and out and the massive re-shoots are pretty obvious at times due to change in tones. Despite being a team up film, only a few characters get time to shine. Characters like Killer Croc, Captain Boomerang, Katana, Slipknot and Joker end up get the smallest piece of the pie. Despite all the hype around Jared Leto‘s casting as the clown prince of crime, its sad to see him appear for about 15-20 minutes in the whole run time of 123 minutes, plus his character and story arc seemed too forced. However, what makes this film work are the remaining characters and performances. The chemistry between them are just great, as well as the development between their relationship. in my opinion, one of the strongest chemistry is Harley Quinn and Deadshot. Their chemistry is electric, funny, and watching them teasing, and slowly started to care about each other, is entertaining, and make me ship them together. Unfortunately Rick Flagg and June Moore’s relationship seemed bland. Viola Davis is perfectly cast and she definitely shows How to get away with Murder but here is hoping that next time she stares in the DC universe, she shows how ‘mean’ she really is; waving around with a phone never hurt nobody. Will Smith completely returns to form as Deadshot. Deadshot’s persona wasn’t too far from some other Will Smith roles but Smith looked like he was having a great time and he nailed a complex character. Will benefited from not being the moral center of the movie and I think that playing a more morally gray character was a good thing to do and he was great. Margot Robbie was awesome as Harley Quinn. I was so impressed that she was willing to get down into the dirtier aspects of her character, she throws a lot of physicality into it even. She completely owns her scenes and I cant wait to watch her next in the Harley Quinn spin off film. While I expected Deadshot and Harley to be good, the biggest surprise might have been Jay Hernandez as Diablo. There was a lot of angst to his performance and he stood out in a crowded group. This is easily the best job I’ve seen from Jai Courtney, he hit it out of the park unfortunately for him he is just a background character. Cara Delevingne has taken a lot of crap for her dual portrayal of June Moon/Enchantress. She’s not bad, she’s not the strongest villain but she did a serviceable job. Scott Eastwood, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje and Karen Fukuhara are likable despite their limited screen presence. Joel Kinnaman plays his part well. Last but certainly not least is Jared Leto as the Joker. The good thing is Leto does not even try to top Ledger or Nicholson, he simply does his own thing. He’s devilishly charming but extremely psychotic. I compare him mostly to Mark Hamill‘s Joker from the animated series in the 90s. It is unlike anything we’ve seen before so, for that, I give it kudos. It is pretty cool seeing this type of Joker but I will admit, I would have loved to have seen more of him. Its disappointing that he has a limited screen time considering his performance is absolutely mesmerizing. Every time I was just about to fall in love with this movie, something would snap me out of it. There would be an awkward cut, or the CGI wouldn’t be as believable as it should (to be fair the action and the CGI are both pretty good throughout). I wanted this movie to be that game changer for DC but it fell short of that. It’s not nearly as bad as critics are saying, it’s a mixed bag but there are really good portrayals, good action and while it’s not completely different, there’s enough new stuff here to make it standout from the comic book crowd. I would be really interested to see the original version of director David Ayer someday. On the whole, ‘Suicide Squad’ is hindered by haphazard editing and a deficient plot but ends up being a stupendously entertaining film due to its unique colorful characters and strong elevated performances. Suicide Squad is definitely going to put some nerves at ease since Batman V Superman. But DC has a long way to go in terms of churning out undeniably great comic book films outside of The Dark Knight trilogy and Suicide Squad is most certainly a great start.
Directed – David Ayer
Rated – PG13
Run Time – 123 minutes