Movie Review: ‘Suicide Squad’ Is A Giant Middle Finger To Film Critics

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I don’t give a shit what anyone else thinks about the DC Universe! I am firmly on board and that’s where I’m going to stay until they deliver something that’s actually in the ballpark of a bad movie. I loved ‘Man of Steel’. I loved the Ultimate Edition of ‘Batman V Superman’ (theatrical version had a number of issues, but I still enjoyed it)! And I absolutely had a blast with the ‘Suicide Squad’! Are these movies perfect? No. Do they have some plot issues? Yes. But, that does not stop them from delivering exciting renditions of these characters I’ve loved for most of my life.

‘Suicide Squad’ is currently sitting at 35% on Rotten Tomatoes and some of the reviews would have you believe that it’s a disaster. So, I’d like you to really think about some bad comic book movies for a second. ‘Ghost Rider’, ‘Catwoman’, ‘Electra’, and so on were bad because they were insanely cheesy. You couldn’t take a second of it seriously. The acting was often terrible and the action sequences were silly or often cringe inducing. These movies are stereotypically bad in a way that did not respect their source material as something more than a silly comic. It wasn’t the plot being familiar or having some slight issues or this consistently ridiculous argument that comic book movies can’t be dark. It was that you couldn’t watch it without wanting to skull fuck your brain through your eye balls because it was mind numbingly cheesy in its execution.

Then there is a movie like ‘Fantastic Four’. That movie is not bad because of half the stupid issues people had with it. There were nitpicks galore, but the first half of that movie is actually pretty good. It is interesting and kind of awe inspiring in its love of the scientific endeavor to discover. The problem with that movie comes in its thud of an ending. It legitimately feels like an entire third act of the movie is missing. Just as the second act is beginning to move along, the bad guy shows up and in a few minutes it is over. It is a disaster of narrative storytelling. It’s not that it’s not particularly original or plot points showed up in a slightly irritating or convenient manner. No, it is a narrative cliff dive.

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So, let’s compare those actual bad movies to this supposedly bad movie. What’s supposedly wrong with it. Well, the major complaints seem to start with there are too many characters. That’s fair. Some characters get a bit short changed. However, there are 3 clear leads here and they all get a sufficient amount of backstory. They are also played very well by wonderful actors and all get their moments to shine.

Another complaint is that the supposed bad guys come off as neutered and aren’t really given the opportunity to be bad. I call bullshit on this. Every person is multidimensional and these characters are the same. Most start and end as scum bags, but they all still have some soul. Some characters have more depth than others, but it is not a negative thing to give even a character like Joker a semblance of humanity. Although, arguing that he is not a scum bag in this movie seems crazier than Harley Quinn to me.

Then there’s the common thread of the movie being dreary, dark, and an overly familiar action flick. Well, that is quite true in a way. The whole heroes trying to take over a city with a shining light in the sky has grown overly common and the hordes of mindless bad guys are in a lot of these movies. But, if it works, and I have a good time, it doesn’t really matter that it’s a similar trope. Would I like some more originality? Sure. Would that make the movie better? Absolutely. Does it make this movie bad? Not at all. It’s a thing you can certainly find issue with, but is it something that is mind numbing, narratively disastrous, or stupidly cheesy? No. It’s an issue based on a moviegoers previous knowledge of action movies.

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None of these things make movies bad, they just keep them from reaching greatness. The question is how much you enjoy in a movie and whether it gets you through the story with some sort of depth, emotion, or entertainment. ‘Suicide Squad’ far delivers more than it falters and the nitpicking is doing nobody any good. Hell, the movie has not even opened and major publications are writing about the death of the DC universe because Rotten Tomatoes ratings seem to mean everything now. Your opinion doesn’t matter. ‘Batman V Superman’ has a positive user aggregator on every site you visit (RT 66%, IMDB 69/100, iTunes 3.5/5, Amazon 4/5, etc) and they are based on hundreds of thousands of reviews. Yet, none of that or the nearly 900 million dollars it made makes a difference.

Here’s the bottom line, if you are interested in this movie because you liked the trailers or love the characters, you will like this movie. If you don’t, I have no fucking idea what advertising you watched, but it wasn’t for this movie. ‘Suicide Squad’ is dark, bleak, silly, smart ass, nihilistic, and a hell of a lot of fun. It is filled with great music, shots, characters, and performances, but lacking in a great narrative. It’s exciting, irreverent, and giddy in its murderous baddies, but a tad bit jumbled when it comes to its plotting. Nothing is completely missing, it’s just not as well put together as it could have been. However, there are still lots of stuff that is edited quite well, and the character introductions are a blast!

So, let’s go over the characters real quick, because they are really the biggest reason to watch this movie. The biggest stand out is surely Margot Robbie as Harley Quinn. She absolutely embodies this unforgettable character with all the sexy sass and wild card attitude that has made her a classic for decades now. She has the mannerisms down to a tee. She has the chemistry with the Joker that is needed for them to play off each other. She has just enough crazy in her to explain her transformation. And she even gives her a little bit of the heart that she always possessed in contrast to Joker.

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Speaking of the clown prince himself, Jared Leto is a good match for Joker. He is menacing and silly with the flip of a coin. You can imagine him in this world as a force to be reckoned with, and I can’t wait to see how he will play off Batman in the future. I am also dying to see more of him with Quinn because they are a sublime pairing.

Deadshot is the other baddie that gets a real character arc and Will Smith plays him like Will Smith as Deadshot. He’s not some uniquely strange character on the page. So, it’s an inspired choice to fill his role out with a bad ass Will Smith in top form. He delivers all the memorable smart ass lines you would expect and provides just the right amount of heart to the character. He’s still a murderer for hire, but he’s not just some one dimensional man. He fills out the leader role perfectly and it’s his slow transformation into an anti-hero that makes up the grounded center which forces you to care…..little (These are still bad guys).

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The other real stand out is Viola Davis as Amanda Waller. Boy, is she one hell of a bitch. You will love and not be able to stand her in equal measure. Cara Delevigne’s evil Enchantress may be the ultimate villain in this movie, but Waller is the real evil that’s pulling the strings. She’s smart, determined,  and completely ruthless. Which is why they needed an actress that could pull off anything. Viola David does that and then some. She essentially creates a puppet master and that master uses her skill of manipulation to get this squad together. She is a mad bitch and you can feel her evil from a mile away. It’s a great role.

All the other characters click as well. Jai Courtney has his moments as Captain Boomerang. Enchantress is pretty cool. Killer Croc has a few neat moments. Katana kicks a few asses. Only Adam Beach as Slipknot truly gets short changed. I mean, all these characters are underdeveloped, but you get enough of them to provide the aesthetic director David Ayer was going for. And Jay Hernandez actually brings some real heart to El Diablo. He’s likely the most changed man of them all and you can really feel that. Lastly, Joel Kinnaman also gives a sense of depth to Rick Flagg. He’s short changed by a script that cuts his relationship with June Moon down, but he’s such a good actor that you sort of care anyways.

Look, I’m well aware that this film is not high art, but it’s loads of fun. These characters are infectious. The music is perfect (including the score). The action sequences are exciting! There are a number of laughs! And it is just plain fun from beginning to end. That’s all I asked for going in and that is what I got. I can’t wait for the next chapter in the DC universe and anyone who has an issue with it can go somewhere else because I think this world is here to stay.

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Nathan Ligon

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