US Release Date: 08-05-2016
Directed by: David Ayer
- Will Smith, as
- Jared Leto, as
- The Joker
- Margot Robbie, as
- Harley Quinn
- Joel Kinnaman, as
- Rick Flag
- Viola Davis, as
- Amanda Waller
- Jai Courtney, as
- Jay Hernandez, as
- Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, as
- Killer Croc
- Cara Delevingne, as
- June Moone / Enchantress
- Karen Fukuhara, as
- Adam Beach, as
- Ike Barinholtz, as
- Scott Eastwood, as
- Lieutenant GQ Edwards
- Alain Chanoine, as
- Businessman / Incubus
- Jim Parrack, as
- Common, as
- Monster T
- Shailyn Pierre-Dixon, as
- Corina Calderon, as
- David Harbour, as
- Dexter Tolliver
- Alex Meraz, as
- Ben Affleck, as
- Ezra Miller as
- The Flash
Will Smith and Margot Robie in Suicide Squad.
The idea behind Suicide Squad is a good one. It's basically a super-villain version of The Dirty Dozen, where you take a group of convicted criminals and try to channel their abilities and criminal tendencies into something good, with the added benefit that if one of them dies, who will miss them? It's a fun idea with lots of possibilities for subversive action and twisted humor. Although this movie doesn't take full advantage of its own potential, and has a few serious flaws, it still manages to entertain, especially during its first half.
Viola Davis plays Amanda Waller, a ruthless government official with the idea of creating a super group out of super villains to handle situations too dangerous for ordinary humans. She recruits them from a maximum security prison with vague promises of a reward as the carrot and an explosive implant in their neck as the stick to motivate their participation in her scheme. Shortly after the group is formed, they are put into action when an ancient witch, whom Waller thought she had under control, goes rogue and tries to destroy the world. Naturally it's up to this band of "heroes" to stop her.
Unfortunately, it's on this first mission that the movie loses its way. After so many superhero movies where the world is in danger, it's starting to get old, especially when, as is the case here, the plan and the motives to destroy the world are so vague. Cara Delevingne plays the Enchantress whom the Suicide Squad is trying to stop, but as villains go she's pretty generic and never very fully developed. It is also during this final mission that the story veers too sharply into melodrama on a few occasions when we are shown the back stories for several of the characters.
Also, as is the case with most DC inspired comic book movies, the plot is over stuffed. Much has been made in the publicity about Jared Leto's performance as the Joker, but I was unimpressed. He's not helped by being completely superfluous to the main plot. He could have been much more effective if we didn't see him at all until his sudden appearance just before the credits roll, then the next film in the series (if there is one) could have featured him as the main villain in the way he deserves.
Of the cast, Will Smith and Margot Robie are the standouts. Smith is the closest thing the group has to a leader as Deadshot, the weapons expert. Sure, the backstory with his daughter is hammy and melodramatic, but Smith is effective in the part. It is Robie though, who steals the movie. She plays Harley Quinn with just the right amount of gleeful madness. Whenever the movie gets too sappy, she's there to lighten things up with a wisecrack. The tone of her character is the tone the entire movie should have strived for. It's dark, a little twisted, and a lot of fun. She's one of the only villains who seems to enjoy being a villain. The rest of the group are too busy moping about their tragic back stories to enjoy it.
There's enough right about this movie that I hope it generates a sequel. They just need to keep the humor, lose the tragedy, and come up with a more original story idea. Not every superhero movie needs to feature an end of the world scenario. If a full sequel doesn't happen, then at the very least someone needs to get Harley Quinn her own movie.
Jai Courtney and Margot Robbie in Suicide Squad
Suicide Squad is a liberal's conundrum, in that they like to see the world in shades of grey and not black and white. Here we have criminal heroes. Are they the good guys or the bad guys? Are they neither or are they just misunderstood? Asking those types of questions make this film a bit difficult to get a grip on.
Deadshot is an assassin and we are reminded of it several times throughout the film. However, like a Democrat giving a speech on social reform, this film wants us to react emotionally to Deadshot and not logically. We see him with his daughter through flashbacks and constantly hear how much he loves her. I always smile at that kind of bullshit. "I love you with all my heart, just not as much as I love committing heinous crimes." I do not question that Deadshot legitimately cares for his daughter, it is simply laughable that we are intended to pity his bad decisions that cause them to be separated.
Because Deadshot is played so seriously, and a walking contradiction, I had no compassion for this serial killer for hire or much interest in his outcome. On the other side of the law is the government employed Amanda Waller, who we just know, on sight, is up to no good and later we see that she is just as evil as the members of the Suicide Squad. Although she has more balls than anyone else on screen, I had no interest in her accomplishing anything either.
The only real good guy in the whole movie is Rick Flag. He is charged with guarding and leading a group of deadly criminals on a suicide mission. He is also desperately in love with a woman who has been possessed by an ancient evil witch. If this movie had been told from his perspective, there may have been a heightened sense of urgency and tension. Instead, their love story is played as one of many side plots, leaving us only mildly interested in whether or not their love will be requited.
Agreeing with Scott, it is Margot Robbie, as Harley Quin, that steals the movie. Not only is she one hot piece of ass that wears shorts so small to prove it, but she is also always on. Only briefly do we see her in an unguarded moment that reveals her obvious weakness. Unlike the guilt ridden Deadshot, Harley Quin is simply insane, plain and simple. Very little bothers her and she is so damn charismatic that you cannot help but be drawn to her and her wise ass outlook on life. After Flag introduces the squad to the silently deadly, and deadly serious, Katana and her soul capturing sword, Harlequin smiles to the other members and states, "She seems quite nice."
Harley Quin has many good lines and moments. One of my favorite's is when Captain Boomerang remarks to someone, "You know what they say about the crazy ones..." and Harley Quin interrupts with , "Huh?" as if that was a question intended for her. Speaking of Captain Boomerang, he is not given much to do but he has potential. When we are introduced to him we are told he has a pink unicorn fetish. Later, he drops a stuffed pink unicorn from his coat. Clearly there is a story here that needs telling but we never get it. Whereas Deadshot is motivated by his daughter and Harley Quin by Joker, we never see any explanation for Captain Boomerang.
The end of the world scenario carries very little weight. As Scott wrote, we have seen city blocks destroyed so many times in super hero movies that such scenes of destruction have become routinely dull. What if Deadshot's daughter was captured by Waller or we had more details on Flag's and June Moons love affair? Either would have created some seriously emotional motivation and engaged the audience in the outcome far more than just two generic CGI baddies knocking through walls, vehicles and turning humans into monsters.
What could have been a deeper film about redemption or what truly makes one a hero is instead a decent superhero film with enough action, a good pace and Harley Quin's one liners to keep Suicide Squad an entertaining juggernaut of mindless fun.
Margot Robbie, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, Karen Fukuhara, Joel Kinnaman, Will Smith and Jai Courtney in Suicide Squad.
I haven't read a comic book since the 1980s and I'm not a fan of superhero movies. I only see them because I write reviews for this site (and because my husband is a big fan of them). When it comes to any superhero movie, for me there is very little middle ground. I'm either entertained or bored out of my skull. That's my only real criteria for judging what seems to be an endlessly expanding genre.
Suicide Squad entertained me at least. I thought the cast more than made up for the generic plot. And while I agree that the witch is a one-dimensional villain the other characters are all pretty interesting and a bit unpredictable. And I'll join the chorus praising Margot Robbie as Harley Quinn. She's not only gleefully mad she's also flirtatiously insane (or insanely flirtatious?). Viola Davis certainly deserves a mention too. Her Amanda Waller is one evil bitch who's not afraid of anything or anyone. Suicide Squad also has a thumping, rebellious soundtrack that mixes hip hop and classic rock to great effect.
It's nice to see Will Smith back on the big screen in a big budget summer action flick. Like the rest of us, he's a bit older but he's still as cocky and charming as ever. I like Deadshot in the same way I like Vito Corleone or Cody Jarrett. Sure in real life they're bad guys but in the movies they provide a vicarious thrill. Especially when they're played by such charismatic stars as Marlon Brando, James Cagney or Will Smith.
Back when I did read comic books, I was a bigger fan of DC than Marvel. So I feel a bit more nostalgia for the Justice League than I do for X-Men. Suicide Squad wasn't good enough to make me reconsider my opinion of superhero movies altogether, but I enjoyed it more than I do most of them.
Photos © Copyright Warner Bros. (2016)