You’ve no doubt heard all the grumblings about 2016’s Suicide Squad – DC’s answer to the fun, action-packed Marvel movies like 2014’s Guardians of the Galaxy. Unfortunately, many of the reports about the movie failing expectations are true. With a tomatometer currently boasting just a 26% on Rotten Tomatoes, the movie falls flat in many areas, though not for lack of effort. While I would never go so far as to call this a good film, I will say that the scarce hope for this film succeeding actually helped me enjoy it for what it ultimately was – a decent, albeit fucking crazy, attempt to bring the fun back into DC’s world of comic-book adaptations.
The film follows Amanda Waller (Viola Davis) as she assembles a team of super villains to combat Enchantress (Cara Delevingne), a seemingly impossible mission to save the universe, all while controlling their lives with a button linked to explosives wired into their neck. This team is made up of some of your favorite villains like Deadshot (Will Smith), Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie), Captain Boomerang (Jai Courtney), El Diablo (Jay Hernandez), Killer Croc (Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje), Katana (Karen Fukuhara) and Slipknot (Adam Beach), the latter of which is a complete and utter nonentity.
You might not believe it based off of the horrible press this movie is receiving, but there are a few bright spots in this movie and at the end of the day, it did a good amount of things right. I’d like to end this review on a good note, so before jumping into those, let’s quickly rattle through where this movie went wrong. Oh so wrong. Spoilers to follow.
First and foremost, the Joker (Jared Leto) is a huge disappointment. Leto’s performance is more cringeworthy than adequate, and forgettable in the worst way possible. All of that makes sense though, since he never really seemed to understand the character in the first place. Mailing dead pigs and used condoms to his co-workers is essentially just sexually harassment, not method acting. He never grasped what made the Joker so complex, but with how little he appears, it’s almost like he didn’t need to. Take the Joker out of the entire movie, and the plot is exactly the same. Actually, take the Joker out of the film and I probably like it even more, which is kind of the problem, no? It’s just a horrible execution from start to finish.
Secondly, the studio-requested reshoots definitely appear to have made a lasting effect on the film, and not for the better. The tone is erratic and the music is extremely forced – almost as if the studio was trying to mirror the success Guardians of the Galaxy had with the Awesome Mix Vol. 1. Additionally, it’s a tad too short and it seems that crucial scenes were cut, as none of the characters receive proper development and backstory, outside of Harley, Deadshot and El Diablo.
Third, and this is nitpicky I suppose, but holy shit, Ike Barinholtz and Scott Eastwood are in this movie a lot! Like, a lot! For the first hour of the movie, you see Ike Barinholtz in this movie more than any other character. That’s not even a slight exaggeration and I found it consistently off-putting. I can’t stress this enough, no one cares about Security Office Griggs, nor do they care about Scott Eastwood’s Navy Seal character, who has the personality of a garbanzo bean, and unfortunately survives the entire movie for no reason. In fact, only TWO major characters die in this movie, one of them being Slipknot who MIGHT have one line of dialogue. That’s it.
I could go on for a fourth, fifth and sixth reason, but who cares? This is Suicide Squad – it was supposed to be just a fun movie, and it ultimately is! Margot Robbie knocks it out of the park (sorry), and every scene she’s in, the movie’s better for it. She even makes Leto’s punk-rock James Cagney rip-off Joker slightly more appealing than the garbage-fire of a character he is. Not to be outdone, her Focus co-star Will Smith is great, per usual. He holds the movie together, both emotionally and tonally, adding in a much-needed comic relief for a movie that, at times, takes itself way too seriously.
The movie builds to a point where you feel much more at home and comfortable. Once the Joker exits, the last hour of the film is pure fun, even with disappointing Joel Kinnamen’s grimacing through every one of his lines, Killer Croc, Katana and El Diablo more than make up for it with their own animal-esque, fire-wielding, blade-swinging antics. It would have been great to see more of them and less of the Joker – who honestly, should have been just a cameo. Or the main villain. Either one. This movie couldn’t decide how to utilize him and it greatly suffers for it.
In summation, the movie was fine. It was ok. It wasn’t horrible, but the high expectations set for it definitely make it appear that way. If you don’t set the bar too high for it, try to block out the Joker as much as possible and savor every moment with Harley Quinn, you’ll have a perfectly swell time at the movies. Well, hopefully.
REVIEW: C +