In all their haste to catch up with the Marvel movie world, Warner Brothers and DC have forgotten one key thing: making coherent movies with any shred of entertainment value. Luckily, “Suicide Squad” is the light years ahead of “Man of Steel” and the abysmal disaster known as “Batman vs. Superman.” Of course, that is not saying much.
The coolest thing about “Suicide Squad” is the premise, which teams a load of villains up to save the world in exchange for clemency. It’s a unique idea and it brings a certain nihilistic edge to the early moments of the movie when the team is introduced. However, once the action starts and the overload of flashbacks begin, “Suicide Squad” becomes a muddy, poorly directed, edited, and written mess.
This team of villains is brought together by Amanda Waller (Viola Davis), who plans on leveraging specific things in their lives against them. Never mind that there is only one character, Deadshot (Will Smith), who actually has something worth holding for ransom. There is literally nothing more than time off from a sentence for the rest of the crew, which doesn’t seem to make much sense for people with super powers that could escape prison at any time of their choosing.
Waller brings in the much decorated soldier Rick Flagg (Joel Kinneman) to lead this ragtag crew, which also includes his girlfriend, Dr. June Moore (Cara Delevingne). Of course, Dr. Moore is possessed by some weird ancient demon called The Enchantress who takes over her body and makes her try to destroy Earth, all while forcing her to try to set records in overacting.
“Suicide Squad” has only a few characters that get the backstory treatment. Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie) gets the most, which brings her history with The Joker (Jared Leto) into play. Diablo (Jay Hernandez), a reformed gang member who can create fire, goes full circle and is by far the most interesting and in-depth character in all of “Suicide Squad.”
Director/writer David Ayer has thrown all these characters into a blender and tried to come up with a cohesive plot, but it’s virtually impossible of a task. It leaves every character short changed, especially the one that everyone is most keyed up to see, The Joker.
Not only is the plot messy, the action itself is very hard to follow and the violence is often times shockingly brutal. It’s difficult to fathom how this has a PG-13 rating, especially when one of the character’s use of actual firearms is decidedly non-comic bookish.
Per the norm, a movie this sloppily made can only be saved by the actors and most do their part to make “Suicide Squad” watchable. Will Smith (an actor in need of a hit movie) is easily the most charming and charismatic of the bunch. It’s a welcome and needed change to see someone so deeply associated with heroism play a seedy, unapologetic killer.
Margot Robbie is sometimes annoying, but that is potentially a testament to her portrayal of a character that should be annoying. Joel Kinneman’s southern accent comes and goes throughout, but he’s still a believable, effective, snarky leader for this crew.
The biggest surprise is Jay Hernandez, who brings a load of emotional depth to a character who has a fraction of the screen time of Smith, Robbie, or Kinneman. There’s a lot going on in a short period of time with his backstory and Hernandez sells it at a high level and there’s a chance it may even bring a few tears to the eyes of the less cynical.
On a whole, “Suicide Squad” is a bit disappointing. That overall level of disappointment does not compare to Jared Leto’s ridiculous performance as The Joker. The interpretation of this character is so out of whack that the only scary thing about him is that he may appear on screen again soon. Instead of being a sociopathic anarchist, Leto’s Joker seems like a reject from a 1980s glam band. His character has so little to do with the actual story that it seems like Ayer and Company inserted him into the movie simply because they had to do it.
Therein lies the problem with “Suicide Squad” and the entire DC movie world. Every character and/or plot point feels calculated and forced. Of course, this is exactly what Disney and Marvel are doing, but they give off an appearance of not being forced. DC and Warner Brothers are racing for second place in the comic book movie competition and until they slow down and start to play the long game, they’ll never catch up.
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