Release Date: August 5, 2016
Director: David Ayer
Writer: David Ayer
Cast: Will Smith, Jaime FitzSimons, Ike Barinholtz, Margot Robbie, Christopher Dyson, Bambadjan Bamba, Viola Davis, Ted Whittall, David Harbour, Robin Atkin Downes, Robert B. Kennedy, Billy Otis, Shailyn Pierre Dixon, Jared Leto, James McGowan, Jim Parrack, Derek Perks, Common, Jai Courtney, Ezra Miller, Jay Hernandez, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, Cara Delevinge, Joel Kinnaman, Aidan Devine
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Runtime: 123 minutes
Production Company: Atlas Entertainment, DC Comics, DC Entertainment, Dune Entertainment, Lin Pictures, Warner Bros.
Genre: Action, Adventure, Comedy
Budget: $175,000,000 (estimated)
After having a few decent hitters under his belt with End of Watch and Fury, director David Ayer decided to take on a larger beast with Warner Bros and DC Entertainment’s Suicide Squad. After mixed reviews for Man of Steel, and an onslaught of horrific remarks on Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, the pressure was on for DC films to get their act together. From the surface it appeared the studio was doing just that. The concept in itself for Suicide Squad is brilliant enough by transforming the most dangerous criminals into an underground lean mean fighting task force machine. Along with a dream team cast of actors to fill those roles, flashy trailers, and clever editing, one might think this would change the approach to comic book features and/or films as a whole. Though while having a fair amount of comedic moments and character drive; the storytelling, villain, and third act were a shambling mess that will be difficult to clean up.
Not wasting any time, the film delves right into the characters in roll call style, starting out with Deadshot (Will Smith). By far, and as expected, he was the glue that tied everything together. He naturally stole every scene he was a part of without asking for the attention. His confidence influenced those around him, bringing out their best; whether it was in the heat of battle or while having a heart to heart about what really matters in life. While I enjoyed his performance, it wasn’t the Deadshot I’m familiar with from the source material. Though Smith being Smith is never a bad thing. Viola Davis as Amanda Waller was another strong performance. Her character is obsessed with power and being in control, and will stop at nothing to achieve it. Something happened years ago that made the character walk around with a cold dark shoulder, and Davis brought it out to the forefront. She’s the ultimate female you don’t want to be around, and the character was done justice. Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie) and the Joker (Jared Leto) were by no surprise standouts as well. Even though there was no true explanation as to how their relationship flourished, seeing them insanely in love with each other still piques my interest for the future. Killer Croc (Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje) was a wasted time of talent, character, and make up. He didn’t do much, but when he did it left a lasting impression. The rest of the characters, besides one, aren’t worth mentioning.
While a hand full of the characters were great at bouncing off of each other and delivering laughs, the tone of the film had a difficult time finding its footing. The roll call set-up towards the beginning of the film started out great with Deadshot, but then shortly after turned into a non-interesting dry monotone exposition fest going through each character down a line. The graphics were nice to see, but the flow from each character to the next was stale. It was simply boring and possessed no real form of narrative storytelling. What makes it worse is the scene repeated itself again shortly after, but at least in better fashion. A conversation to set up a group of people can happen naturally in many ways, but instead of being creative with a well-rounded group of characters, screen-time is wasted that could’ve been used to flush out the villain. The film also wastes it’s time setting up an epic adventure only to be let down by random music that doesn’t belong in the given setting. Every time a member of the Squad was gearing up to do something amazing, it was diluted down by a soundtrack that has no business being in this film. An audience member should feel upbeat, enhanced, pumped up and ready to go into battle with whoever is on the screen; as opposed to a feeling of rushing to change the radio station because your ears hurt. There was no intensity, danger, or epicenes to the song choices, which ruined a great portion of the film.
As a comic book fan, I don’t mind going far deep into mythology that the average movie goer has never heard of before, but even I feel the studio went too far with this one. This is due to Enchantress (Cara Delevinge). This is possibly the WORST character I’ve seen on screen. She’s an individual with so much power, but she doesn’t know how to use it properly. Now coming up towards the end of the film there are a couple of action beats that serve the film well. Each character is given enough cannon fodder to show what they can do on the battle field. Some have great abilities, while other characters are just crazy and have no real reason to be in the fight or film. Another sin that’s made is there are no stakes to be found at all. At no point did the Squad feel like they were ever in danger. That would be impossible, because the film did not have a valid reason for the squad being created or the mission they were trying to accomplish. The overall villain is a joke. At times giant lightning bolts are used to cause global destruction, but then they aren’t used during up close fist fights.
The film is a jumbled mess that still has a few fun moments. At this time it seems Warner Bros has a completely different approach to shared universes between characters. Marvel took their time, while DC is attempting to play catch up. It’s completely unnecessary to go about it this way. With Suicide Squad, they tried to cram too many characters into a film in an attempt to be the next big thing. I respect their efforts, but not the outcome. Overall I didn’t walk out angry, but I did want much more. The characters were fine and made me laugh, but everything else was all over the place. The story, plot, and villain could have all had a makeover. If this is the start of a new comic book shared cinematic universe, the reality is it may not last too much longer.