(3.5 / 5)
I was hoped on caffeine when I first saw Suicide Squad. It both helped and hurt the ability to be critical of it. As the last of the Dr. Pepper (and free Rockstar) left my system, I realized two things: I needed to see that movie again and I had to do it before I could even review it.
I had a similar experience when I saw Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice. That time around I allowed the awe of Ben Affleck as Batman to dilute my review. When I soberly returned to the multiplex to revisit the movie days later, I left under a fog of boredom and ambivalence. Looking at my review for that movie, I stand by it. I just don’t feel it was a movie I enjoyed more than once. Outside of Affleck, the movie was an elaborate and forced introduction to the expanded DC Universe.
When it came to Suicide Squad, the connection to the movie above was so slim that you could comfortably enjoy it without a mountain of previous knowledge. The film wastes no time in introducing Amanda Waller, a government agent who has created an outlandish idea: take a bunch of supervillains and force them to do good. Despite not being taken seriously, Waller is certain that forcing these criminals to work for her could save some lives and keep the government’s liability to a minimum. If the team gets caught, disavow them and wash your hands of the top secret program. She’s selected career black ops officer Rick Flag (Joel Kinnaman) to act as the team’s leader and handler. In classic blockbuster fashion, something goes wrong where the unlikely group needs to be mobilized. Enter Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie), Deadshot (Will Smith), and a bunch of other DC villains who are blackmailed into saving the day.
It’s clear that the film is a mixture of The Dirty Dozen and Escape from New York. Director David Ayer takes his background in gritty, realistic drama and applies it to the larger-than-life comic book template. From the beginning, the movie attempts to maintain a kinetic energy by moving forward at a breakneck speed. This pacing moves so fast that the numerous plot holes almost go unnoticed in all the chaos. Where most cinema follows the three act format, Suicide Squad unfolds with a brief prologue then jumps to Act Two with the climax taking up the last 45 minutes. It’s not a complete script, merely a thin series of leaps forward.
Evidence of trying to establish a much larger universe is rampant, notwithstanding the Affleck’s cameo as Batman and Bruce Wayne. Also tacked on is the wasted Jared Leto as the Joker. Instead of being integral to the plot or a small cameo, the producers settle for something in the middle. This lackadaisical decision makes scenes with the character almost a distraction from the movie proper. I don’t really see his take on Joker particularly memorable or dynamic, but perhaps the missing screen time would have rectified it.
The diverse cast was a welcome addition to the comic book genre. People of color and women are given ample screen time in lieu of a predominantly Caucasian cast. The dialogue is refreshing and doesn’t take itself too seriously. Though not as meta as Deadpool, the film’s point-of-view opens up the story to show things from another side instead of through the eyes of the hero.
Beyond the obvious issues, the movie is a lot of fun. The humor is surprisingly sharp and the action is fairly consistent throughout. It feels like a bundle of old ideas missed together, but it has the warmth of good b-movie excitement. 3.5 out of 5 stars.