I’ll just stick to mixing sodas together. To be better prepared for extraterrestrial threats such as Superman who might not be as friendly as the Man of Steel, the government, led by intelligence officer Amanda Waller (Viola Davis), decides to put together a group of talented, yet unstable, individuals.
Call them a Suicide Squad, if you will, comprised of Deadshot (Will Smith), Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie), El Diablo (Jay Hernandez), Boomerang (Jai Courtney), Killer Croc (Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje), and Slipknot (Adam Beach). Along with de facto special forces leader Rick Flagg (Joel Kinnaman) and appointed bodyguard Katana (Karen Fukuhara), the ragtag group is asked to take down not The Joker (Jared Leto), but a threat that could destroy the world. If they succeed, wonderful. And if they fail? Well, there’s a reason the baddest of the bad drew this straw and got called a suicide squad.
Some popular memes going around the Internet concern Marvel vs DC Comics, and how much the latter lags behind the former. One of my personal favorites is this one here, taken from Captain America: The Winter Soldier when Sam Wilson aka Falcon talks about how he does everything Captain America does but much slower. This is, in a way, a perfect image that defines the struggles the DC Extended Universe has had in getting off the ground since BvS and now with Suicide Squad. The irony is, however, that by hotshotting a multitude of characters in the hopes of creating a big comic book universe fast in two movies has actually had the opposite effect.
The talented David Ayer (End of Watch, writer of Training Day), was tagged to not only direct this next entry in the DCEU. Ayer is one of the grittiest directors, and writers, of today, and with the supposedly dark material that Suicide Squad houses in the comics, that would seem to be up his alley, right? Not exactly. There’s a part of me that understands that with the criticism of Dawn of Justice, there was no way that a following DC movie could be as somber.
But, Suicide Squad does unfortunately feel a little neutered, fragmented, and duller than could be imagined. Perhaps it isn’t Ayer’s fault, but the fault of what appears to be a meddling studio yet again. Perhaps we’ll see an extended cut on Blu-Ray akin to Batman V Superman, though a second time with subsequent films gives off the wrong idea. On a bright note, a pretty good score is found by Steven Price, but the soundtrack drives the scenes more, for good and for bad.
Ayer does present a nice setup. Though exposition-heavy in a scene that seems to last forever in a restaurant, there likely was no other feasible way to introduce the characters that make up the squad. It does its job. The problem is that after that, the story is pretty rinse-and-repeat. I actually didn’t find it that hard to follow, but there very much is a bait-and-switch element to the proceedings. Pretty much a whole act is devoted to getting through two waves of literal faceless enemies to get to a building to extract someone. There are some cool visual moments, mainly of Deadshot being an expert marksman, but it all adds up to a meh trek to the finale, which is hampered by middling to bad CGI and the cheesiness of slow-motion.
The main reason why Suicide Squad isn’t a complete waste is because it is easy to see that the cast is fully committed to these characters and the movie, even if some do not get the requisite attention or backstory. Will Smith is always gonna be Will Smith to me, never fully bleeding into a character. That is not to say he isn’t entertaining, though, and his Deadshot possesses the most humane storyline of any character. Margot Robbie is the true star, and rightfully so. WB has promoted her crazy person act as the franchise player, and it isn’t hyperbolic to say she may one day rival or surpass Batman’s popularity on the silver screen in the DCEU. More of her, please.
In a film of nuts and psychos, Viola Davis’ role is important, if only just to give some sense to the proceedings. Finally, Jared Leto’s Joker is something I was down on after the conclusion of this film, but after thinking about it more, one has to respect his efforts to do something different. Maybe the real reason I was down was the simple fact that he’s not the real opposition this feature deserves, but it’s the one we needed.
The rest of the squad has a clear hierarchy after Deadshot and Quinn. Jay Hernandez and Joel Kinnaman get some development, the former’s actually a little emotional while the latter’s only serves to propel the movie’s baddie. Jai Courtney gets a few funny lines here and there, and barely edges above worthless. Sadly, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje and Karen Fukuhara are basically that as Killer Croc and Katana, respectively. Nothing against them as actors, just have no care if their characters somehow turned up dead before the sequel. This really needed a stronger villain than the one given to us played by Cara Delevingne. By film’s end, it’s pretty brutal and not in a good way.
Suicide Squad contains a good-to-great foundation for future DC film property in its own universe, but its present is a little bit mucky. Squad goals? Not exactly yet.
Photo credits go to cinemablend.com, ew.com, and screenrant.com
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