Suicide Squad (PG-13)
Written and Directed by David Ayer
It feels good to be bad! Assemble a team of the world’s most dangerous, incarcerated super villains, provide them with the most powerful arsenal at the government’s disposal, and send them off on a mission to defeat an enigmatic, insuperable entity. U.S. intelligence officer Amanda Waller (Viola Davis) has determined only a secretly convened group of disparate, despicable individuals with next to nothing to lose will do. However, once they realize they weren’t picked to succeed but chosen for their patent culpability when they inevitably fail, will the Suicide Squad resolve to die trying, or decide it’s every man for himself?
Right off the bat, I’ll say I expected next to nothing from this film. Not for creative reasons or even lack of faith in the people involved, but for a conflict of interest. Going in I knew almost nothing about the majority of the characters that make up this rag-tag team of unsuspecting heroes. That being said – due to its fantastic trailers – my interest was piqued, if for no other reason than to see more of Ben Affleck’s Batman.
Writer/director David Ayer is better known for the more recent action/war drama Fury, but remembered for past successes in screenwriting for films such as The Fast and The Furious and Training Day. Training Day is, without a doubt, a film with more depth than is immediately apparent; it certainly makes you feel conflicted towards its main characters in the sense that you do, at times, find yourself rooting for the bad guy. He is a writer who can manage to make you love and sympathize with the villain, while still knowing the good guys will likely win. This is a quality that sets him up all too well for the job that is Suicide Squad. These are truly bad people who have done terrible things. However, by the end it’s hard not to like each of them, even just a little bit.
All of this in mind, his films are generally rooted in harsh reality without a whole lot of room for fantasy. Now, David Ayer has a chance to have fun. He brings with him the grit and reality of his previous work, while managing to really make the main characters pop and stand out from their surroundings, as they should.
Immediately we are greeted with bright, vivid greens, purples and playing card patterns, catering to the film’s two most well-known characters as the theater fills with an all too familiar laugh. For the next twenty or so minutes we’re reminded of some of the political disputes from Batman v Superman. We take this time to get to know some of the film’s characters while being treated to some iconic Batman imagery. This also gives newcomers a crash course on who exactly we’ll be watching for the next 2 hours. Coming out of this portion, I felt comfortable with these characters and even formed an instant love for Will Smith’s Deadshot – a character I went in knowing very little about.
Will Smith here does what we love best about him, going all the way back to his days as the Fresh Prince. He can deliver a line that will speak to your heart and maybe even bring a tear to your eye, but not without following it up with something that will at least make you smirk. His movie star charisma is on full display.
Right on his tail is Margot Robbie who has more than proven her acting chops in films like The Legend of Tarzan and The Wolf of Wall Street. Robbie embodies the intelligent, yet completely insane, Harleen Quinnzel (Harley Quinn) with just a dash of lost soul. On screen she may appear closer to her current comic counterpart, but there are more than enough throwbacks to the Harley we know and love. She’s never over the top and makes you believe this is a woman you might not want to get too close to, as tempting as that may seem. Not to mention, her accent and embodiment of the character is present in every line she delivers. On screen, Robbie is Harley Quinn. It’s through her we really get the best look at Jared Leto’s portrayal of The Joker, as her back story is sprinkled throughout the length of the film.
Pushing forward, we get background (though not quite as in-depth as Harley or Deadshot) on the remainder of the cast, narrated by Amanda Waller as she proposes her Suicide Squad project. It’s not long after Waller gets the band together that things take a turn for the worse in a way that I honestly didn’t see coming. Send in the Suicide Squad! Our “heroes” are launched into the, now, supernatural war zone that is Midway City to extract someone of major importance. Rescue mission is a go.
Amidst all the action that follows, Suicide Squad takes the time to further flesh out the main characters. Here, each character just keeps branching out and each one slowly comes into their own in this hodgepodge situation. Particularly, I ended up falling in love with Captain Boomerang (Jai Courtney), who provides quite a bit of the comic relief, as well as Katana (Karen Fukuhara) who is not only enchanting in her mysterious portrayal, but has a really compelling story all her own.
That was the take away for this film. Each character has their own compelling story and I managed to take an interest in every one by the end. These are very three-dimensional characters, most of which have never been seen on the big screen before, and all of them deserve a bit of exploring, which I hope DC and Warner Brothers will continue to do through various future mediums.
Sprinkled throughout the film is a very interesting soundtrack that we got a glimpse of in the trailers. It almost mimics the classic rock leanings we heard in Guardians of the Galaxy or some of Zack Snyder’s projects. All in all it’s wonderful and really helps add to the zany nature of the film.
Now, the hot topic: Jared Leto’s Joker. While I will say I’m still not sure how pleased I am with him aesthetically, the performance shines right through the awful tattoos, and by the end of the film I really did accept it as this Joker’s “look.” To me, personally, it just felt a little more “modern gangster” than “showman” – which is how I always saw The Joker. However, Leto’s performance here is truly nightmare inducing. While his screen time is minimal, you do get your fair share of the Clown Prince of Crime. Between reports and watching the film I can honestly say Leto was immersed in this role on another level. So much so at times he almost seemed lost in a sort of madhouse trance. He managed to make it his own and, through the art of editing, we really got a sense of the loopy and trippy nature of these two clowns. The movie takes plenty of time to focus on the relationship between Harley and The Joker and rightfully so. As far as these two go, it’s a duo I’ve been waiting to see on the big screen for some time and I’d be more than happy if this is one that continued. Their relationship is lifted right off the comic book pages and, based on the way things play out, I wouldn’t be surprised in the least if this isn’t the last we see of these two in the DC Expanded Universe.
It’s hard to write about this gem and be so vague, but I truly did enjoy this movie. I encourage you to go out and see it. This is not an Oscar winner by any means. This is for all intents and purposes a comic book movie and should be viewed as such. Go in, have some fun, be a kid and grow wide-eyed at the visuals. Learn about these interesting characters and go read some comics after the movie. By all means be sure to buckle in, because this is just the beginning of DC’s Expanded Universe. Some will go on to say they’re copying Marvel’s business plan, which they are, but I think that’s fantastic. I hope they, as well as other companies exploring such franchises do just that. This is a massive, expansive universe where all these colorful and interesting characters co-exist. By all means, let them bleed onto the screen. As a comic book fan, I love it and look forward to what DC has in store moving forward leading up to Justice League.
This was a giant canvas on which Ayer got to really explore a new space creatively. With the aid of a bombshell cast, he was really able to take a whole new genre to him and run with it. Hats off to all involved. Go see it, have fun and hopefully, with the aid of “Mistah J,” you’ll leave with a smile.
Be responsible with young viewers and remember this is a PG-13 rated film that straddles the line of an R-rating.
See you at the movies.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5