Director: David Ayers
Starring: Will Smith, Margot Robbie, Jai Courtney, Viola Davis, Joel Kinnaman, Jay Hernandez, Cara Delevingne, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, Karen Fukuhara, Adam Beach, and Jared Leto
Warner Bros. Pictures
It’s fun to cheer for the bad guy. Don’t get me wrong watching Spider-Man swing into action to fight Doc Ock or reading about The Green Lantern meeting archenemy Sinestro always makes it fun to have a hero to cheer behind. But I couldn’t help but wonder what the comic book universe would look like if Doctor Doom or Kingpin got the best of the hero. In comic books it’s inevitable that these super villains would eventually have their day to shine in some incarnation of a long running print story but in film the superhero/comic book movie villain rarely finds the finish line first.
DC Comics looks to amend this by bringing their anti-hero covert-ops “Suicide Squad” into the mix. Directed by David Ayers, who helmed the 2014 war tank film “Fury” and the gritty 2012 cop drama “End of Watch”, “Suicide Squad” is unlike the typical comic book movie fair audiences are becoming wholly accustomed with throughout the year. No, it’s not a dark and solemn affair like DC’s last outing “Batman v. Superman” or is it a composition of responsibility and morals like “Captain America: Civil War”. This is a film that is trying very hard to have fun and be playful, it’s a film that is trying to make the viewer forget about the constraints levied upon heroes in these types of films.
Amanda Waller (Viola Davis) is a conniving, unmerciful leader of a secret government agency tasked with protecting the world from new, powerful threats that have come in the wake of the emergence of people like Superman and Batman. This super villain task force, composed of the worst of the worst incarcerated criminals, is sent into action when the odds are the most insurmountable. Lead by a super soldier named Rick Flag (Joel Kinnaman) the group is composed of a deadly marksman named Deadshot (Will Smith), the Joker’s girlfriend Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie), a fire wielding gangster named Diablo (Jay Hernandez), an wise-cracking Australian named Captain Boomerang (Jai Courtney), a sewer dwelling monster known as Killer Croc (Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje), a samurai sword swinging woman named Katana (Karen Fukuhara), and an ancient witch known as Enchantress (Cara Delevingne). How will these villains fill the shoes of the heroes?
Mr. Ayer doesn’t waste much time making his impact known, the style of “Suicide Squad” is frantic from the opening moments and the design has an energetic neon grittiness. The villainous group is quickly introduced via a montage of capers gone wrong that result in their capture. Mr. Ayers does not pull any punches during these moments, providing a few surprises for the DC fan.
While all of this spectacle and flair provides the film with an early, much needed breath of fresh air it unfortunately doesn’t last very long. Aside from some ingenious character introductions and the promise of a few good action sequences to come, the story lacks in any kind of structure or substance to make it interesting from scene to scene. Just as everything starts to get comfortable the pace changes, or simply restarts. Yes, everything remains quick and somewhat exciting but the fluidity is missing between the story and characters. For instance, Deadshot and Harley Quinn are introduced and then needlessly introduced again later in the film and at another point an action packed scene is basically redone with different characters, it all serves no other purpose than lazily leading the narrative from plot point to plot point. It’s hard to even distinguish a memorable action sequence, most of the memorable scenes happen in humorous or quiet moments between the characters.
The cast is a large group of recognizable faces. Some are really good, some are present, and some are completely overlooked. Will Smith is given a majority of the screen time, unfortunately he never completely sheds the heroic persona his characters are known for and this is no fault to Mr. Smith but rather the script that consistently portrays Deadshot, an assassin, with a significant amount of redeeming qualities. Margot Robbie is next in line for screen time and she provides a bubbly, demented character. Mrs. Robbie completely owns many of the scenes that she is in. Much talk was made of Jared Leto’s portrayal of the Joker, interesting would be a great description of the performance. Mr. Leto works his way into something unique with the character. Viola Davis is perfectly cast as the operator of this task force, stoically poised and on the verge of a killing spree she is the perfect complement to these characters.
It’s unfortunate that Mr. Ayers doesn’t allow the bad guys to simply be bad. There is a constant reminder that the viewer should see these characters differently, take for instance the hero music themes that play in the background during group shots. Why can’t bad guys just be bad guys?
“Suicide Squad” struggles to find a balance for its villains. While it has some very fun moments and some good performances, there is unfortunately few times where it succeeds in accomplishing the lofty mission of letting villains lead the charge. It can be fun to cheer for the bad guy, if you can find one.
2.75 out of 5.00