Film Review: Suicide Squad (2016)


DC’s much-anticipated summer flick Suicide Squad stars Will Smith as Deadshot and Margot Robbie as Harley Quinn, members of a super-villian-super-group tasked with fighting even bigger baddies. Viola Davis, and Jared Leto play ancillary characters Dr. Amanda Waller and the infamous Joker, respectively, while Cara Delevingne’s Enchantress acts as the main threat of world-ending trouble.

Suicide Squad would perhaps best be viewed as an action movie with over-the-top baddies instead of a comic book character movie. Only a couple, less interesting characters have actual superpowers; the rest are merely good at being bad. The film’s introduction and focus on a fiery, flirty, fun Margot Robbie as the volatile Harley Quinn and on bone fide movie star Will Smith as Deadshot (whose prison scenes remind me of his turn as an entirely different antagonistic super in Hancock) are the most compelling, although their stories do eventually slide into cliché, especially for Deadshot and his fellow family man, El Diablo. Other less well-formed back stories and motivations are that of Capt. Rick Flag’s love for June/Enchantress, which generated zero chemistry or interest, and the shoehorned-in non-relationship between Captain Boomerang and Katana (I wonder if this is a fault of the source material?)

Even with many complaints about not enough screen time for Jared Leto, I would say that the movie has an adequate amount of Joker, who is not a main character on either side of the fight but still has lots to do and is plenty interesting as Harley’s dashingly deranged love interest with his slicked back green hair, metal teeth, and a tuxedo shirt. His motivations for creating Harley, however, are ambiguous and not in an intriguing way but because of inconsistent characterization (a problem Suicide Squad clearly has with all the characters). Viola Davis is expectedly a force of nature as Amanda Waller. Her character is so clever, cruel, and manipulative that she should really be considered the villain and not Enchantress (and certainly not the manic Joker as the trailers mislead us all to believe).

Suicide Squad does start off promisingly but loses steam halfway. The reason that the movie feels so aimless after the introduction and comes to a screeching halt right in the middle of the action is so that the characters can have a drink at a bar and have a sudden change of heart about what they are doing because Flag is lovesick and apparently Deadshot wants to be a hero. Mob mentality, I guess. Some redeeming parts of the movie, aside from the untouchable Margot Robbie, are the excellent soundtrack and very expensive art direction. Watching it in IMAX 3D, I would have to point out that there are next to no 3D effects with occasionally inaudibly mumbled lines which means this movie is definitely not worth watching on the big screen but fine subtitled on DVD. Sometimes loud and fun, sometimes cheesy and romantic, sometimes very dull and unfulfilling, Suicide Squad is mostly a disappointment for fans of DC and/or Chris Nolan’s superior Batman trilogy and makes me want to check out Focus instead.

Rating: 2.5 out of 5 falling helicopters

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