Review: Suicide Squad
Movies like this are a challenge. Working in this many characters, weaving together this many stories, creating a universe people want to spend time in. These are all things that take vision, skill and probably a little bit of luck. If any element is off, your house of cards crashes and you are left with, in this case, a neon-colored pile of rubble. This failure is compounded when your best material is in the trailer and the film ultimately struggles to justify its existence. If you are someone who just loves these characters, you might indeed have fun with this one. But you aren't going to get much more depth than if you had played the trailer 30 times instead.
The films opens following the death of Superman, with government officials wondering what would happen if 'the next Superman' were not a force for good. Determined to prepare for such a scenario, Amanda Waller (played by Viola Davis), sets out to assemble meta-human 'bad guys' who could help protect humanity if needed. We are then introduced to these individuals who are being housed for various crimes. We get brief rundowns of their capabilities and the reasons why they are in prison. The crazed Harley Quinn (played by Margot Robbie) and the marksman Deadshot (played by Will Smith) lead a band that includes pyromaniac El Diablo, mercenary Slipknot, Captain Boomerang and Killer Croc. They name themselves "The Suicide Squad."
At the same time, Waller intends for Dr. June Moon to be a part of this 'squad.' That plan goes awry when the witch-goddess that possesses her, "Enchantress," decides to build a machine to eradicate mankind. As she gets closer and closer to her goal, the Suicide Squad must stop her before it is too late.
The strength of the film is obviously its cast (for the most part). Though they exhibit nothing that looks like genuine chemistry, that is not entirely their fault. Their individual performance work on a very basic level, but outside of Will Smith's Deadshot, none really seems like a fully rounded character. The Harley Quinn/Joker dynamic is bizarre, at best, as they never really quite flesh out what it is that draws her to him or even why he is a part of the story in the first place. To the comic book fan who says, he just has to be there, I say, "oh, ok."
And perhaps that is my problem. Other than drawing in an audience, I have no idea why this movie exists. This is no one's vision. This is no one's idea. This is just a thing they thought they could sell, so they did. That is their right, but hopefully we can all agree this effort is lackluster.
With most of the movies 2-hour runtime in the bag, the film decided it should perhaps consider humanizing these characters before it sent them off to the inane, yet inevitable, final confrontation with the "Enchantress." To do so, it essentially froze the action to allow the characters to exchange stories over drinks in this all-too-forced way. The result was somehow that I cared even less about these people.
It also struggles to find its place between the dark and serious Nolan Batman-trilogy and the light formula that has been working for Marvel. As is, really not sure who this appeals to, but the outcome is messy.
Between Jared Leto's Joker and the mystifying Enchantress. Nothing about the film's villains is compelling. Often, villains offer a chance to comment on the world in some way. That dual narrative is entirely missing here. Gone are the moral underpinnings or deeper motivations that can give these characters depth. Instead, we got cotton candy. It is probably the case that that is all most are looking for, but I pray we are nearing the end for what is becoming an empty genre.
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