SILLY, SASSY AND DOESN’T QUITE SUCK
Review by Ray Schillaci
The Movie Guys
I went into David Ayer’s Suicide Squad the same way I went into Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice, not expecting a whole lot. Even though the trailers were great, just something about all the hype gave me warning signs. Yet as I sat through the closing credits, my first thought was…it was not all that bad.
What raised it above the last DC fiasco (BvS) was the performances. It goes without saying that Margot Robbie owns us as the Joker’s disciple, Harley Quinn, and Jared Leto delivers an eerie and lethal grandstanding display as The Joker and almost nearly as frightening is Viola Davis’ turn as the cutthroat Amanda Waller. But the big surprise was how good Will Smith is as the hired assassin/antihero, Deadshot.
Others in the cast are good, but they come across more like window dressing in a very busy display of colors and bombastic action that at times seems to go nowhere. If there was just more story, if the characters were allowed to be fleshed out naturally rather than thrown in like the box of cereal display for one of the movie’s ad campaigns, if Warners or DC or both didn’t insist on forcing everything to be tied together, this could have been a far better DC entry that may have given Marvel a run for its money.
The story can be summed up in a couple of sentences. The leader of a government covert operation gathers the worst of the worst to go on a suicide mission. We get glimpses of nearly each baddie’s life with obligatory appearances by Batman and The Flash, but they almost seem wasteful and uncomfortably shoehorned into the shred of a storyline.
Now, I’m not going to get into the whole Marvel vs DC thing for too long. It just isn’t fair. Both are great brands. It’s just after some considerable time Marvel has found itself, and has been delivering what the comics have been about for years. They nurtured their heroes; Spider-Man, Iron Man, Captain America. And even though they stumbled now and then with The Hulk, Fantastic Four, and some disappointing sequels to Spidey, they more than redeemed themselves with their ensemble piece, The Avengers and jettisoned to further success withGuardians of the Galaxy and Deadpool.
While in the meantime, DC had an even earlier stretch of success with the first two Superman movies starring Christopher Reeve, Tim Burton’s first two Batman films, and Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy. While Man of Steelappeared to be a bumpy road which many of us welcomed anyway, Marvel-type success looked to be much harder than expected. After witnessing the Marvel juggernaut, DC suddenly put everything into high gear. Even though their series did very well on TV (Arrow, The Flash), nothing could prepare them for the critical drubbing they would receive from critics and fans over Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice.
And once again, another DC product suffers from too much flash and not enough substance. Could it be that the executives behind Suicide Squad kept questioning, “why bother with a story when we have all these wonderful villains?”? Could they not have come up with a better threat than a rehash from the original Ghostbusters? Could more thought not be put into the Enchantress’ army making them look more threatening than just ’50s B-movie monsters? Why was the story so disjointed with the introduction of each villain, with their reveals making them not look as bad as they are perceived? Once again (as in BvS), why does most of the action appear muddled and incoherent? Somebody at DC needs to seriously study great action films like The Raid as did Captain America: The Winter Soldier.
This DC movie should have been a slam dunk. It was The Dirty Dozen of comic books. All they had to do was emulate from that classic movie. But no, it appears that the film was rushed to meet deadlines, dashing any hopes of a resurrection from BvS.
Does Suicide Squad have its share of entertaining moments? Most definitely. As mentioned, Leto, Smith, Robbie and Davis deliver the goods. Even some of the other baddies have their flashes of fun (I love Killer Croc’s makeup and quips). Captain Boomerang incites a chuckle or two and Enchantress is wonderfully creepy. But Karen Fukuhana as Katana has such a paper thin character to work with and the reliable Joel Kinnaman is practically reduced to a G.I. Joe straight man cut out.
Suicide Squad had all eyes watching it to be a mega-hit. Perhaps because of that, the critics have been harsh, and Rotten Tomatoes has anointed it with 1% lower than Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice, which I believe is not deserved. I found the Snyder-fest a bore, and that was its death blow. So much angst, deep thought, grand opera while Suicide Squad is a little like waltzing with a madman. It attempts to entertain and be insane like Marvel’s Deadpool, yet lacks the finesse of strong story and coherent character motivations. But it does manage to deliver a little demented joy while giving Margot Robbie a huge boost as a mega talent to be dealt with. It also leaves us craving for not a Justice League movie, but a maniacal follow up with our favorite demented version of Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers, The Joker and Harley Quinn.
Directed by: David Ayer
Release Date: August 5, 2016
Run Time: 123 Minutes
Distributor: Warner Brothers