Suicide Squad

After the misstep that was Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, Warner Bros. needed Suicide Squad to reignite interest in its vision for the DC Extended Universe. The film’s trailers showcased a more comical yet still gritty adaptation of DC’s villainous group of antiheroes. Suicide Squad has all the elements of success, from a plethora of interesting characters to its captivating visual style, but like Dawn of Justice a weak story drags it down.


After witnessing the events surrounding Superman in Metropolis, government agent Amanda Waller (Viola Davis) wants to put together a top-secret squad of incarcerated supervillains to combat possible metahuman threats. The team consists of the marksman assassin Deadshot (Will Smith), the psychopath Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie), the loudmouth Boomerang (Jai Courtney), the reptilian Killer Croc (Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje), the pyromaniac El Diablo (Jay Hernandez), the rope master Slipknot (Adam Beach), and the witch Enchantress (Cara Delevingne). They’re led by all-around American soldier Rick Flag (Joel Kinnaman), who is able to keep the criminals in check through a bomb implanted in each of their necks that will explode should they disobey any of his commands or try to escape. Waller sends them out into the field knowing that they’re completely expendable. It’s no big deal if they die, and should something go wrong she has a bunch of criminals to throw under the bus.


By far the most interesting aspect of Suicide Squad is its cast of characters. The entire first act of the film is all about introducing who’s who through flashbacks and montages. It’s extremely straightforward, although more attention is given to a few over the others. It’s clear from the start that this is very much the Deadshot and Harley Quinn show. That’s not without reason, either, as they are the best and most well-thought-out characters. That’s been somewhat a given, especially considering Harley Quinn’s popularity. Personally, I found Hernandez’s El Diablo to be the most interesting of the bunch.


He’s not just some villain looking for a quick escape. He’s the only one in the group who actually has any remorse for what he’s done and is looking for true redemption. The best scene in the film takes place at a bar and gives a brief glimpse into what makes these characters tick, not just as villains but as people. We get to see them interact with each other outside of all the brutal violence and one-liners. I wish more of the film had been like this, but unfortunately it rarely gives them the opportunity to shine, and instead simply moves from one action set piece to another with little thought.


And that is Suicide Squad’s biggest weakness; the story. Almost immediately Enchantress is able to escape from Waller’s puppeteering and decides to wreak havoc over the city by turning people into faceless monsters and building some kind of mysterious doomsday device with the help of her ancient and equally powerful brother. The details are never fully explained. You understand that it’s bad, but you never get the reason why.


Even worse is how the Joker (Jared Leto) is shoehorned into the film. The Clown Prince of Crime plays heavily into Harley Quinn’s backstory, but he also just randomly appears throughout the main black-ops mission trying to free Harley. It feels out of place, both in story and performance. Leto’s interpretation of the Joker is much more eccentric and overblown than previous versions. I could definitely see bits and pieces of Heath Ledger’s Joker thrown in at times. The main problem is that the film doesn’t devote enough time to him to actually make any sort of real impact. He’s a first class character who’s playing second fiddle.


Story aside, Suicide Squad does have some fun moments. The action is really well done and the film isn’t afraid to get flashy with the visuals. The soundtrack is fantastic as well and really complements what’s happening on screen. If nothing else, it makes you want to see more of these characters. While it sets them all up wonderfully, the film struggles to deliver. Suicide Squad is a slight improvement from Batman v Superman, but it’s also evidence that Warner Bros. still doesn’t know how to handle the DCEU. And that is extremely worrying.

Matt Rodriguez
Review by Matt Rodriguez
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