My Rating: 7 out of 10
I had to try hard not to go into Suicide Squad with too much bias since there were so many people that either loved or hated the film. I was initially excited for it mostly based on the phenomenal casting, but then started to get more skeptical once some of the reviews starting coming out and my friends began to discuss the film. However, after seeing it, I think that the people who went into the movie expecting something incredible saw something incredible and those who went in expecting something terrible saw something terrible. Suicide Squad was a solidly good movie. It wasn’t amazing, nor was it abysmal. It was entertaining, interesting, funny, and exciting, which is pretty much what I want out of a superhero (or, in this case, supervillian) film.
The premise of Suicide Squad is simple. After the events of Batman v Superman, the world becomes increasingly aware of the existence of “meta-humans” with extraordinary powers and the US government starts trying to figure out a way to fight against these individuals who they believe are the weapons of the future. One official in particular, Amanda Waller (played by Viola Davis), decides to bring together a special task force of meta-human criminals in order to fight against potential villains. The task force is full of interesting characters with unique abilities, some that must people are familiar with like the Joker and Harley Quinn and some that only diehard comic fans would know like Captain Boomerang and Slipknot. Since these individuals are completed uninterested in fighting for the government and being “good guys”, they need to be persuaded to follow instructions through threats and bargaining. However, when Waller’s meddling with meta-humans goes awry, her “suicide squad” are the only people that might have a chance of saving the world.
While there certainly were some issues with Suicide Squad, there was also so much that the film did right. In fact, I don’t think it would be an exaggeration to say that this is the best DC superhero film to date. Unlike in other DC films like Batman v Superman, Suicide Squad keeps its plot simple and straightforward. It introduces the character we need to know as soon as possible and quickly moves to get those individuals involved in the unfolding plot. One of the things that made Suicide Squad stand out so much for me in comparison to other DC films is that it was so funny, while still maintaining the dark tone of Man of Steel and BvS. Like in the Marvel films, the key was to bring wildly different characters together and have them interact with each other in ways that would create tension, camaraderie, and chaos. Though it was necessary to have a long section of exposition towards the start of the film in order to get the audience up to speed on who all these villains are, I think that section was artfully done and managed to give us some quick character information that went a long way to understanding these people and getting straight to the action.
Another aspect of the movie that I loved was how the characters who are viewed as villains and rejects by society are, for the most part, not terrible people. They are all a little crazy or selfish, but they have people and things that they care about and are willing to come together, in the end, to fight for a common cause. Like most people, the members of the suicide squad are looking out for themselves and the people closest to them. They aren’t heroes concerned with the salvation of humanity, but they care enough about one another by the end of the movie to work together and protect each other. Ironically, it is Amanda Waller who comes off as the most evil person in the film. Not only is she ruthless and self-serving, but she creates a self-fulfilling prophecy when she tries to control the Enchantress, who nearly destroys the world. This juxtaposition between Waller, who is on the side of “good”, and the members of the suicide squad, who are all supposedly “bad” people, makes for an interesting commentary on what good and evil really are and how actions and intentions can sometimes be at odds with one another. What makes the characters of Suicide Squad so interesting is their morally grey personalities.
Before getting into the issues I had with the film, I need to say that the acting was just as incredible as I had expected after seeing the cast list back in 2015. Jared Leto was a great Joker, though nowhere near as creepy as Heath Ledger, and put a unique spin on the character. This could also be said of Margot Robbie’s Harley Quinn. Cara Delevingne’s Enchantress was an awesome villain that seemed to have almost unlimited power. She reminded me of Apocalypse from the recent X-Men film and I loved her line about how humans don’t worship supernatural gods anymore, but worship machines instead. Finally, Will Smith’s portrayal of Deadshot gave the movie a moral center that the audience could relate to. While some of the other characters were a bit underdeveloped and could have used a bit more fleshing out, their unique and strong personalities made up for it. Both Deadshot and El Diablo (played by Jay Hernandez) were characters that I had never heard of, but loved by the end of the film.
In terms of things the film could have done better, I think my main issues was that some aspects felt rushed or not fully planned out. For example, the Enchantress and her brother had so much power that it is conceivable that they could have destroyed all life on Earth with relative ease, but instead they waited around building a weapon and allowed the suicide squad to out smart them. In addition, while the actions of the main members of the squad made sense at the end of the film due to the relationships they had formed throughout the movie, it was still not completely believable that they all had become so close to fight for each other in the way they did. I think that making the movie just a bit longer would have helped with this and made the end fight all the more powerful and emotional. Finally, there was definitely not enough Jared Leto Joker scenes for the amount of hype leading up to the actual release. The Joker was clearly an ancillary character, but his inclusion made me want to see more of him and I felt that the movie didn’t deliver. If the filmmakers wanted to make Jared Leto such a centerpiece in the advertising, they should have written a story that allowed him to interact with the cast more than he did.
Overall, I’d say Suicide Squad is a must see for anyone who likes superhero movies or the actors that appeared in the film. Whether you are familiar with the villains in the actual squad or not doesn’t matter since their interactions make for a hilarious spectacle. This film proved that DC movies can still be gritty and realistic while also being fun like the Marvel films. My concern going forward is that the Justice League movies won’t be as witty and exciting as this film, which could be trouble for DC down the line. Hopefully, the filmmakers behind the DC cinematic universe will use the best elements of Suicide Squad in future projects.