TL;DR – Sigh, oh DC, it really looked like you tried on this movie, but boy the best that you can do is an aggressively mediocre outing that adds nothing to the franchise, and as a self-contained film – well you can do a lot worse, but you can also do a lot better.
Score – 2.5 out of 5 stars
P.S. There is a mid-credits scene
When it comes to that whole DC v Marvel comics rivalry which seems to permeate the internet these days, for me this was one of those arguments that was never really a factor in my life growing up. This is because we didn’t really get the comics where I lived, but what we did get was the animated series, like X-Men and Batman, and they were not aired in competition with each other, and indeed sometimes aired on the same TV channel. So growing up you were not a DC or Marvel person, it was more “did you see that episode yesterday”, I feel I really need to start with this up front because I really want this Justice League series to work, I really do. However I don’t think Suicide Squad is the film that will do it, and in fact all it does is show that DC/WB just don’t seem to know how to get this movie series off the ground. At best it is average, and at worse it is quite problematic, but in the end it is not really all that engaging and you’ll probably forget most of it within a day of watching it.
At the core of Suicide Squad is an interesting question – How would the US government deal with a world where Superman could just rip the entire armed forces apart by himself if he wanted to? I really like the realm of politics, so these types of questions really interest me, so this should have been a clear no brainer to hook me and bring me on board, but once you are hooked there is not much there. So what was America’s response to this changing world, well, and this is not really a spoiler because it is the name of the film, for Amanda Waller (Viola Davis) it was to find a bunch of ‘bad people’ that she could manipulate through leverage to become a squad that could take out ‘meta-human’ threats. So far so good, you have a good idea, you have a good cast (mostly), and you have a good IP with a rich history to draw from, so what could go wrong?
Well before we go there, let’s look at the things that actually do work well, firstly the casting, and generally speaking I think they got this right. Will Smith as Deadshot brings an air of class to the role and a world of experience, though it does feel that he is playing Will Smith super assassin and less Deadshot, but given it is Will Smith he pulls it off. I also quite enjoyed Margot Robbie as Harley Quinn, she gives a manic energy to her role and as she showed in Tarzan, Margot has the ability to shine even if the rest of the film is quite average. Also Cara Delevingne is really good at bring out the duel nature of the Enchantress, she may have the most expressive face in Hollywood at the moment and she uses it to full effect. There is also some interesting stylistic choices, I do like the use of fluro, and the montage at the start of the film was really well put together. Also the use of music throughout the film was quite good for the most part.
Now the problems, and I will touch a little bit on the story in this section, so if you want to go into this blind then you may want to skip to the last paragraph. So the story, well it is a bit better than Batman v Superman, in that they don’t have as many “Your mum is named Martha too” moments, but it still has some really lazy plot progression. For example [spoiler] the team is outfitted with explosive implants that go off if they misbehave, and moments before they go on their big adventure a new character is introduced that you have not seen before and one minute later they are dead via explosive implant, it was so trivial to be almost laughable. Another issue I had with this film is how ridiculously inept all the people who are meant to be in positions of authority are. Like [spoiler] the warden (Ike Barinholtz) of the most secure prison in America, also has massive gambling debts to the mafia, I mean come on, or how they think having the military head of the squad Rick Flag (Joel Kinnaman) be in a romantic relationship with one of the members is actually a good idea, you don’t have to be a fortune teller to know that it would be a bad idea. Finally the big boss Waller, starts off with a standard pragmatic, tough as nails persona, but as the movie goes on she engages in actions that makes you wonder how it is possible that she would ever be given top secret information. Also can we take a moment to talk about the Joker (Jared Leto), now the Joker is a role that would be very difficult to cast, and nearly everyone has their favourite Joker from Cesar Romero to Jack Nicholson to Mark Hamill to Heath Ledger, but I don’t think Leto will be anyone’s favourite well at least not from this movie. Part of this just might be the very short amount of time we see him on screen, so we don’t get a really good sense of him, but for me the role fell a bit flat.
Much the same as it is hard not to compare Batman v Superman and Captain America given there remarkable similarities (see here), it is also hard not to compare Suicide Squad with Guardians of the Galaxy. When watching the film you can’t help but see the similarities – [spoiler] a group of bad guys thrust together not of their own making who end up becoming a team and … well comparisons continue but then we would be getting into too spoilery territory. They even use one of the main songs from Guardians, which only has the effect of reminding the audience of a better film they could be watching. Now part of this is not really Suicide Squad’s fault because Marvel just simply got out of the gates first so you can’t help but compare, however, if the phrase “like Guardians of the Galaxy but…” was no used in the pitch meeting I will be very surprised. We also see this in the conflicted tone, Suicide Squad does not know if it wants to be light and comical, or dark and brooding, and that leads to a bit of a disconnect throughout the film.
In the end today I watched Suicide Squad, and I watched a play through of the new Telltale Batman game, and if I had the choice I would have only have watched the Batman game, which is not a ringing endorsement, indeed save yourself the time and money and watch the same play-through, you’ll probably enjoy it more.
Directed by – David Ayer
Written by – David Ayer
Based on – Characters from DC Comics
Starring – Will Smith, Margot Robbie, Jared Leto, Joel Kinnaman, Viola Davis, Jai Courtney, Jay Hernandez, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, Cara Delevingne, Karen Fukuhara, Scott Eastwood, David Harbour, and Ben Affleck
Rating – Australia: M; Canada: PG; NZ: M; UK: 15; USA: PG-13