Suicide Squad (2016)
Directed by: David Ayer
Starring: Will Smith, Margot Robbie, Joel Kinnaman, Viola Davis, Jared Leto, Jai Courtney, Jay Hernandez
In the wake of Superman’s “death”, the US government is looking for any means possible to defend Earth against any further “meta-human” attacks. A secret agency, led by Amanda Waller recruits a group of incarcerated villains to help with the defense, promising to make their prison life easier if they comply. The squad includes Deadshot (he shoots things!), Harley Quinn (she’s crazy!), Captain Boomerang (he’s Australian!), Killer Croc (he swims!), El Diablo (fire pretty!), Katana (she’s got a sword!) and Slipknot (he can climb anyth…never mind). Led by Rick Flagg, this group of anti-heroes must save Midway City from an otherworldly attack from The Enchantress, an ancient witch with some impressive, yet undefined, powers. The team’s efforts are hindered not only by their own inability to follow orders but by The Joker, who’s trying to get back his Harley. Massive destruction ensues. Stay for the credits.
This could have been a really terrific movie. There are a lot of good things here. The basic story of a group of villains helping save the world is a good one. The characters chosen are interesting and watchable. The set and costume design are eye-catching (though I really would have liked Harley to have pants, if she’s going to be jumping out of helicopters). Batman makes an appearance, or two. The soundtrack is awesome. The acting, with one notable exception, is quite good. In particular I like Will Smith’s unrepentant Deadshot, Jay Hernandez’s completely repentant El Diablo and Jared Leto’s psychotic Joker. Margot Robbie is very good as Harley, even if her accent slips a few times. Viola Davis is excellent as Amanda Waller, a government official who is probably as bad as the villains she’s recruiting. The rest of the team isn’t given a whole lot to do – but they aren’t terrible. Even Jai Courtney is engaging as Captain Boomerang. Set-up movies are often difficult, particularly when there are so many characters to give backstory to. There are a lot of scenes consisting of characters talking about other characters as a way of introducing them – and for the most part, it works. Oddly, this is a film without any real heroes. The good guys are bad and the bad guys are bad. As much as you root for this team, they aren’t the good guys. At the end of the day, they are still convicts. Deadshot is still a murderer for hire. Harley is still in a very abusive relationship with a psychotic. El Diablo still killed his kids. Croc still eats people. Waller is just as bad as they are. These aren’t likable characters – but they are interesting and well-acted. It isn’t the acting or the characters that are the problem with this movie, it’s the movie that surrounds them.
Where the actors excelled, the technicians failed. The editing on this film is a mess. I know this went through reshoots and recuts based on the poor reception of the Batman vs Superman yawnfest, and it shows. Some scenes are so choppy that characters move from one spot to another in a flash (and I’m not talking about The Flash). It seems like some scenes are missing. Other scenes feel like they were crammed in at the last minute, or spliced in out of order. One character pops back up after you were pretty sure you saw that character die in a previous scene. Ayer’s directing is fine, when it is focused on the characters rather than the action. Once the action starts, things get messy very quickly. The end fight scene is covered with smoke, so it is hard to determine who is fighting who and what is going on. It didn’t help that I saw this in 3-D and the print was dark and muddy from the conversion process. The 3-D does nothing for the film anyway. I recommend either seeing this movie in 2-D or, if you insist on 3-D, springing for the IMAX 3-D. Lastly, there isn’t enough of The Joker. Leto’s take is different and I wanted to see more. You don’t get much more than what is shown in the trailers and that is a shame. He really should have been the main villain.
Instead we get The Enchantress as the main villain and she is completely disappointing. Not just the character, Cara Delevingne’s acting is so far below everyone else’s that she just grates on your nerves. Her performance seems to be entirely based on wiggling her body around. It’s unintentionally hilarious at times. Even the special effects surrounding her are cheesy. This is the biggest disappointment with the film. This group of villains needed a much better villain to fight.
Rating – A DISAPPOINTED B-
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