2016’s Summer blockbuster season has been kind of a disappointment. Starting off strong with Captain America: Civil War, it’s since been degraded into mediocrity. For the most part, sequels have failed to live up to their predecessors and new films have been received poorly. Last week’s Jason Bourne sums up 2016’s summer blockbuster season perfectly… entirely mediocre in every way.
Well, Suicide Squad is here to try and end it on a high note. Directed by David Ayer (End of Watch, Fury, Sabotage), Suicide Squad is the third film in Warner Bros. new DC Extended Universe. Does the film help save the summer blockbuster season? How does it stack up against the other DCEU films? Most importantly, should you go see it? Let’s find out together.
For those unfamiliar, the premise of the Suicide Squad is simple, it’s a team made up of supervillains that go on dangerous black ops missions in exchange for leniency on their sentencing. The Suicide Squad film takes place after the events of Batman Vs Superman. After a new supernatural threat attacks Midway City, Government agent Amanda Waller (Viola Davis) is forced to call in Task Force X to go and “save the world.” Waller’s character is incredibly menacing in the film, and Davis does a good job as the stern, authoritative figure. As one should, she’s incredibly reluctant to create and call in the services of Task Force X because, well, you know … they’re bad guys.
For the most part, the story decent. It’s nothing terribly new or original, but there’s always something lurking around the corner, and there’s some action to be had. One criticism about the story is that the pacing is a bit off. The first 30 minutes of the film especially, really struggle to find solid ground before the ball gets rolling. The final climax of the film is also a bit flat in the execution department. I just wish there was more to it.
Characters, Big, And Small
It’s definitely a movie that’s in your face and proud of it.
I really like the look of Suicide Squad. It’s easily one of the best looking superhero films around. It has a grungy, alternative punk aesthetic dripping from almost every frame. The film leans towards the unconventional and stylistic, especially towards the beginning where all the characters are introduced in a fantastic, stylistic montage. It’s definitely a movie that’s in your face and proud of it. As much as I love the gritty urban realism of Nolan’s Batman trilogy, it’s a breath of fresh air to see all of the zaniness leaping off the screen.
One of the more interesting casting decisions when Suicide Squad was first announced was Jared Leto as the Joker. When I first saw him in the trailer, I was really concerned with how he was being portrayed. I’m glad to say that Leto’s Joker is … alright. He’s more of a soldier than previous iterations of the character, meaning he’s definitely hanging from helicopters, shooting rocket launchers and getting right in the middle of combat situations more than usual. It’s interesting to note, that while both Joker and Batman’s presence in the film is limited, their impacts are just as meaningless.
Taking On A Completely New Monster
As for the Suicide Squad themselves, for the most part, they work. Unfortunately, as is the case sometimes in big ensemble movies, some of the characters feel a bit underdeveloped. First off, the two highlights of the film are Margot Robbie as Harley Quinn and Will Smith as Deadshot. This is easily the best performance Robbie has given in her young career and she embodies everything that Harley Quinn represents. Her portrayal illuminates beautiful and death in every sense. The actress does a great balancing act of being completely crazy, but also being someone who’s in control the whole time. It’s just she’s never fully allowed off the chains. WB really should have let her run wild.
As for Will Smith, I really like what he does as Deadshot. The movie does a wonderful job establishing his hatred for Batman early on in (easily) the most emotional scene of the film. Between Smith and Robbie, I was always excited when their characters were on screen.
In the next batch of okay characters, we have Joel Kinnaman as Rick Flag, Jay Hernandez as El Diablo, and Cara Delevingne as Enchantress. Kinnaman is a wonderful actor and really plays the part of disgruntled government “leader” well. As for Enchantress, she’s an incredibly important character, so it’s great that Delevigne does such a wonderful job with her, channeling the inner struggle between June Moone and the Enchantress.
Finally, we get to the bottom of the barrel. Characters like Captain Boomerang (Jai Courtney), Killer Croc (Akinnuoye-Agbaje) Slipknot, and Katana who are just awful. For the most part, they serve as nothing more than comic relief throughout the film. They try to shoehorn in some plot for these characters, but it’s kind of hard to care. This is especially the case for the characters with limited dialogue (Croc, Katana). Overall, the entire ensemble doesn’t get enough screen time and some characters feel underdeveloped.
Suicide Squad is an okay movie. When it’s at it’s best, I enjoyed it. It has a much lighter tone than the two films before it. It has a unique sense of style and engulfs you in a story that (for the most part) you care about. There are some pacing issues, and I think the first 30 minutes could’ve used a little more tightening up.
For the most part, the cast does good work and the balance of good to bad characters is negligible. The highs of Robbie, Smith, and Delevingne overshadow the lows of Boomerang, Croc, and some other really bad characters (Sorry, Common — Monster T). Leto’s Joker isn’t in the film a lot, but it gives us a glimpse of what we can expect in future DCEU movies. Everything considered, It’s a fitting way to send off a disappointing summer blockbuster season … entirely mediocre in every way.