After fanfare, anticipation, and recuts, Suicide Squad will finally hit theaters this Friday (August 5), but Warner Bros. might not like the sound it makes.
For those who are comic-book challenged, the Suicide Squad is a team made up of the most dangerous criminals in the DC universe who are inspired, bribed, or forced to take on life-threatening missions the U.S. government can’t tackle, be it lack of power or authority. For their participation, members get various favors, including time shaved off their multiple-life sentences.
Due to the nature of the team, the roster is always fluid based on the type of mission or deaths during missions (they’re not called the Suicide Squad for nothing). The big-screen debut focuses on the group currently roaming the DC Universe, which consists of an assassin who never misses (Deadshot, played by Will Smith), a petty thief with a mean streak (Captain Boomerang, played by Jai Courtney), a human-reptile hybrid (Killer Croc, played by Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje), a remorseful pyrokenetic gangbanger (El Diablo, played by Jay Hernandez), an archaeologist named June Moone who is possessed by an ancient witch (Enchantress, played by Cara Delevingne), a ninja with a cursed blade out for revenge (Katana, played by Karen Fukuhara), a military spec ops team leader (Rick Flag, played by Joel Kinnaman), and the psychotic main squeeze of the Joker (Harley Quinn, played by Margot Robie).
The movie takes place presumably after the events of Batman v Superman, with the world becoming increasingly aware that we are not alone. The powerful U.S. government is threatened by these other worlds. Uber patriot Amanda Waller (Viola Davis) sets about convincing the government to give her the green light to create a team of expendable assets for wet work and other highly dangerous tasks that the U.S. can’t be tied to. The team dubbed Task Force X operates out of Belle Reve Prison and answers only to Waller, which she ensures by implanting explosives into the criminals’s necks. When their first mission, taken on by Flag and his girlfriend, June Moone, goes awry, the team is activated to clean up the mess.
I’m not sure if it was on purpose, but the movie’s story line is a pretty choppy adaptation of an old Suicide Squad arc called The Nightshade Odyssey. In the original story, one of the members of Task Force X named Nightshade takes the team with her on a mission to the Nightshade Kingdom and discovers that the ruler, Incubus, is the brother of the entity that possessed June Moone / Enchantress.
The new flick seems to take bits and pieces from various Suicide Squad stories, mashing them together, which also might explain why the movie looks like a patchwork quilt of other films.You have a team that goes into a city occupied by creatures to rescue a trapped asset (Resident Evil: Apocalypse) and ends up fighting an ancient entity that possessed one of the team’s girlfriends (Ghostbusters — and if you don’t believe me, even in some of her later scenes the effects looks like the stream from a proton pack). You also have the character Killer Croc, whose antics and way of speaking are so overdone he comes off slightly racist (Jar Jar Binks – Star Wars Episode: 1).
Sitting through the film, you will have so many moments of nostalgia that you will start questioning if you are in the Matrix. The subway scene is reminiscent of the Matrix or Underworld.
The real heroes of the film, though, are the actors. Will gives a heroic performance as Deadshot, and the moments with his daughter played by Shailyn Pierre-Dixon are some of the scenes where the movie really works. Margot taps wonderfully into her crazy-beautiful side as her character is a godsend for lovers of the Joker’s favorite gal. She and Will previously worked together in the movie Focus, and their chemistry clearly has not diminished. Their interactions come off as genuine and not forced. Viola’s portrayal of the menacing and manipulative Amanda Waller is so spot-on it almost elicits reactions so visceral that you forget it’s Viola, and you can’t wait to see if she gets hers in the end.
The rest of the cast is pretty much background players, most having few-to-no lines. There is minimal back-and-forth between Boomerang and Deadshot, which was part of the Squad’s dynamic. Cara’s June Moone is so minor it’s difficult to get a definite impression, but her Enchantress goes from the twitchy creepiness of Samara from The Ring to the ghostly rock star flash of Gozer from Ghostbusters — a feat which, while on-screen might seem a little abrupt, must be challenging to a model-turned-actress.
The diamond in the rough is Jay’s character, gangbanger El Diablo. While at first he is no more than an afterthought, as the movie progresses and we learn his background, you begin to get an understanding of his plight and build an affinity for the character.
In regards to Jared Leto’s Joker, I’m unsure if the issue was direction or the actor’s creative freedom. While the Joker traditionally comes off as asexual to anyone other than Harley Quinn, this version is much more open. His mania seems more narcissistic than psychotic and he lands between Alex from A Clockwork Orange to Heath Ledger’s version of the Joker. I’m undecided on whether I like this new version.
With Suicide Squad, director David Ayer set out to make the “Dirty Dozen of super heroes,” but ultimately it comes off choppy and watered-down. This was a real chance for DC to make a great franchise with a brand that many people don’t know. Did their flinch after Batman V Superman and rushed recuts take away from the core of the movie? Are those gaping holes in the plot and the relationships lying on the editing floor? Do they have to release a director’s cut to help David save face? As a fan of the Suicide Squad comic, I was a bit disappointed with the story line choice, which could have been given a different dynamic. I went in not expecting too much and would have been OK with seeing something similar toThe Replacement Killers, The A Team, or maybe even The Losers.
The Good: Will Smith, Margot Robbie, Viola Davis, Jay Hernandez, and the soundtrack are the highlights of the film.
The Bad: The story, the Joker.
The Ugly: The clichés, the lack of imagination, the editing.
Rating: On-Demand. It’s not worth paying to see in the theater, as you will leave disappointed, but there is slightly enough there to warrant paying your cable provider $4 to get a glimpse — if only to be a part of the conversation.
PHOTO CREDIT: Getty