By Mark Saldana
Rating: 2.5 (Out of 4 Stars)
The whole premise of a team of villains forced to work together to do some good is a highly creative one, but unfortunately, this awesome idea doesn’t get utilized well in this film. The Suicide Squad consists of a motley crew of some of the DC Comic world’s more notorious villains, and though some of them get the proper character development in the movie, others get little to none. These are a couple of the issues with David Ayer’s adaptation and latest entry in the DC cinematic universe, which has already gotten off to a slightly rocky start with Batman v. Superman. The movie does have its fun moments, but despite the strong entertainment factor, I am having a difficult time recommending it to all of my readers.
Set after the events of Batman v. Superman, government operative Amanda Waller (Viola Davis) decides to assemble a team of some of the world’s most dangerous criminals to carry out black ops missions for the United States. Waller and a government man named Dexter Tolliver (David Harbour) select the infamous assassin Deadshot (Will Smith), the twisted Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie), the fiery El Diablo (Jay Hernandez), roguish Aussie thief and assassin Captain Boomerang (Jai Courtney), reptilian beast Killer Croc (Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje), mercenary Slipknot (Adam Beach), and Dr. June Moone, who happens to be possessed by the evil spirit known as Enchantress (Cara Delevingne). Waller places the team under the leadership of Colonel Rick Flagg (Joel Kinnaman) and his protector Katana (Tatsu Yamashiro). The team gets quickly assembled and sent on their first mission of rescuing a high profile mark from Midway City which is under attack by a supernatural force. However, considering this is a team of villains and not heroes, things get a tad complicated on the way. It also doesn’t help that Harley Quinn’s boyfriend, the infamous Joker (Jared Leto), has a mission of his own.
As a director, David Ayers does an adequate job in the presentation. He does manage in presenting a somewhat entertaining movie with flair and style. As a screenwriter, however, is where Ayers falls short. Characters Deadshot, Harley Quinn, El Diablo, and Enchantress get mostly decent development with the details of their backstories presented. Captain Boomerang, Killer Croc, and Slipknot, on the other hand, get little to no development whatsoever. In fact, Croc’s presentation is somewhat laughable and silly. The first few acts of the movie are rather fun and entertaining, but the movie stalls a bit as it builds up to a big climactic confrontation with the antagonist. The confrontation then goes off the deep end and plays out ridiculously cheesy and corny. This awesome assortment of characters deserves a better mission, or perhaps needed more than one mission to really shine. Ayers, however, focussed more on the set-up and doesn’t deliver in the end. To be fair, I will say that I rather enjoyed the backstories of Deadshot, Harley Quinn, and El Diablo. Ayers, at least, makes it a point to show their more humane sides, making them more realistic instead of two dimensional baddies.
The casting department did exceptionally well with their choices for these roles. Will Smith brings a no-nonsense attitude to his Deadshot and his natural charisma makes his character a somewhat likable scoundrel. Jay Hernandez delivers a solid performance as Chato Santana, aka El Diablo. He portrays Diablo as the atypical member of the group, a criminal who actually atones for his sins and would much rather not use his powers anymore. The real star of this movie, and the main reason I might just give this movie a weak recommendation, is Margot Robbie. Robbie plays Harley Quinn like it’s the role she was born to play all her life. Her zeal and commitment to the character brings the cartoon character to life, but does it as a fully realized flesh and blood character. I absolutely enjoyed all of her scenes. She most definitely has all of the best lines in the movie and these moments had me smiling, laughing, and watching in awe.
Another standout in the film is Viola Davis as the hard-boiled and duplicitous Amanda Waller. Davis delivers an amazing performance as an icy-cold, sometimes frightening badass. Waller actually can be more frightening than her team of rogues. Other cast members including Jai Courtney, David Harbour, Joel Kinnaman, and Tatsu Yamashiro all perform decently, but are definitely overshadowed by Robbie, Smith, Hernandez, and Davis.
I suppose it would be a sin if I don’t comment on the performance of Jared Leto as the Joker. There has been much discussion about Leto’s method acting process for bringing his take on the villain to life. However, it seems somewhat excessive and unnecessary considering that the character’s screen time is limited and doesn’t make a huge impact on the main plot, save for Harley Quinn’s backstory. In a way, it would be somewhat unfair to compare his acting to that of Joker predecessor Heath Ledger because the Joker is an integral part of the story in The Dark Knight, and here he merely appears in a few scenes. Leto performs adequately, but never manages to deliver that scary psychosis for which Ledger will be forever known. He does make a positive first impression, though, and I would love to see how he does as a major villain in another movie. At least there he would get the proper treatment he deserves.
And I do hope that if this movie does well at the box office so that Warner Bros. and DC decide to give this awesome team the proper treatment they deserve. This cinematic introduction to the Suicide Squad will probably have some appeal to those already familiar with the characters, but may bewilder or confuse those completely unfamiliar with them. Even though my rating is somewhat low for a recommendation, I am willing to reluctantly encourage my readers to see the movie at a matinee price, simply for the decently developed backstories of some of the characters and the exuberant and highly entertaining performance of Margot Robbie who, I believe, really is Harley Quinn. On one hand, Warner and DC have at least made a fun entry for their comic-based universe, but they still have to make more improvements in the writing department if they wish to at least remain competitive with the Marvel Cinematic Universe.