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Suicide Squad Review


Suicide Squad is no doubt a messy movie, albeit a really fun messy movie. The first act is bogged down in uneven exposition, it takes a while for the supporting characters to do anything noteworthy, and it doesn’t help that the trailers already showed some of its best moments; yet despite its faults, I thoroughly enjoyed the ride and was more than pleased to see that David Ayer and company delivered a true DC movie. Critics are panning it as if it were on the same level as Green Lantern or the Ben Affleck Daredevil, when in reality it has all the ingredients to be great. All it needed was less studio interference and a more structured story.

On that note, I’ve come to the conclusion that after three movies the DCEU is first and foremost designed for hardcore fans. Whereas the MCU does a solid job of striking a balance between fan response and critical reception, DC and Warner Bros. are content with satisfying their fanbase if it means enduring an overwhelming number of negative reviews from mainstream critics. I say this because as a fan of the comics, Suicide Squad hits all the high notes with its characters and maintains a strong level of spontaneity and adrenaline; but from a critical standpoint it’s impossible to ignore the disjointed storytelling and lackluster setup. It’s a movie made for people who are already immersed into this universe, and less of a good standalone.

The first half hour or so feels like an issue zero of the comic. The classically shady government liaison Amanda Waller (Viola Davis) consults with a couple of top military officials about creating a black ops task force in the wake of Superman’s death. She pulls out a list of names of notorious outlaws, describing them while a slick flashback montage commences, along with a different rock song for each character (my favorite being “You Don’t Own Me” by Grace to coincide with Harley’s intro). There’s top-notch assassin and Batman foe Floyd Lawton/Deadshot (Will Smith), pyro punk El Diablo (Jay Hernandez), wildly unhinged Flash nemesis Captain Boomerang (Jai Courtney), metahuman outlaw Killer Croc (Adewale Akkinnoue-Agbaje), and of course Joker’s psychotic girlfriend and pop-culture icon Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie). There’s also the witch Enchantress (Cara Delevingne), whose slightly uncontrollable powers lead to her being possessed by a supernatural villain for most of the movie, and the warrior assassin Katana (Karen Fukuhara), who shows up later. This ragtag team of super villains is lead by Col. Rick Flag (Joel Kinnaman), who only agrees to the whole thing in order to protect Enchantress.


As far as Jared Leto’s Joker, his role mostly consists of some cool flashbacks (one of which features Harley in her original jester costume and is a great homage to the iconic Alex Ross cover), as well as him searching for Harley in the present. Much like Hannibal Lector’s limited screen time in The Silence of the Lambs, Joker was always going to be a subplot here, but his presence is felt every second he appears. And in terms of the actual mission the Suicide Squad is sent on, it revolves around stopping the aforementioned magical entity who controls Enchantress. They get thrown into this fight, it backfires, and the final act revolves around them having to band together without Waller’s help.

What’s interesting is that Suicide Squad comes together more in the second half than it does in the first. Whereas most blockbusters do the opposite, this one misses several opportunities to provide some good setup and have the characters interact a little more before tossing them into some chaotic fight scenes. Instead of opening with Waller talking about why they need this team, I’d rather have seen evidence of it. Yeah it’s cliche to pull out the whole “show don’t tell” motto, but there’s a reason that principle has stood the test of time and still applies.

Nevertheless, going back to the idea that this is a movie genuinely made for fans, in it Ayer delivers the aesthetic, feel and tone of a comic book. Compared to its DCEU predecessor Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice, it’s significantly more entertaining and faithful to its characters. While it’s obvious that there were humorous moments and bits of dialogue shoehorned in after BvS received criticism for being so overtly dark, I don’t believe that this was ever intended to be as grim a movie. The original John Ostrander comics, and even the more gritty New 52 books, are at their core Westerns. The director’s cut may turn out darker (assuming it’ll eventually get a DVD/Blu-Ray release), but I doubt it’ll be an entirely different movie.


Performance wise, the best come from Smith and Robbie. Smith plays the kind of antihero you can root for, who at his core does everything for his daughter. He has some memorable moments with other members of the squad, such as when he riles up El Diabo and gets him to unleash his powers, and is never too serious. Likewise, Robbie embodies elements of both the classic and modern versions of Harley. She’s reckless, unpredictable, delightfully twisted, and has an all around commanding screen presence. I could’ve done without her over the top New York accent, but everything else she does makes this easy to overlook.

Leto’s Joker is getting a mixed response, but I liked it. There’s no way to outdo Heath Ledger’s iconic version in The Dark Knight, nor is there any need to. Leto does his own thing here, and while the vocal aspects of his performance are nothing spectacular, his facial expressions and physicality are fantastic. I found myself gleefully creeped out anytime he looked at the camera, and I love how his various costumes pay tribute to different versions of him in the comics. Supporting character wise, it’s difficult to judge as they don’t get quite enough to do, but each actor looks their part and does the best with what they have.

Suicide Squad is by no means a great comic book movie, but it has plenty to offer for hardcore fans and casual moviegoers alike, and I’m excited to say it’s a step in the right direction for DC’s ever-expanding cinematic universe.

Rating: 7.5/10