When the villains are the heroes and Hot Topic rules the world…
Starring Will Smith, Margot Robbie, Viola Davis, Jai Courtney, Cara Delevingne, Joel Kinnaman, Jay Hernandez, Adewale Akinnuoye-AgbajeKaren Fukuhara and Jared Leto. Directed by David Ayer
I’ve got a little bad news and a lot of good news on this movie. The bad news is that this movie is actually two movies. One movie is funny “superhero” summer action and the other is a poorly edited Hollywood mess. The good news is that the majority of what you will see is awesome! I’ll give you a basic plot but just know that this movie is not about plot. It’s about enjoying being with this group of people. So the fact that the plot is weak meant little to me overall.
Earth got lucky Superman was on our side. But what happens when more “meta-humans” show up and they aren’t? Amanda Waller (the DC version of Nick Fury) wants to assemble a team, code name: Task Force X. But this team will be filled with villains. Some with special abilities and some that are just highly skilled. The benefit of using convicts is if the mission fails, they take the fall. If they succeed, the leverage is time off their prison sentence. If they try to run… well thankfully Waller has put explosives in all their heads so that’s not really an option. That’s really all that matters. What this movie truly wants to do is take you on a mission with some of the most enjoyable, awesome, brutal, strange, funny characters you’ve ever seen. Sadly they do shoe-horn in a big monster evil with a plan to destroy the world. Task Force X is assembled to stop the baddie and succeeds. I wont get into that because 1) I don’t want to spoil what little finale there is and 2) it doesn’t contribute to why this movie is great.
Clearly there were two driving forces behind this film- the director David Ayer and the now rearranged Warner Brothers overseers. This is the last movie casualty of the previous way Warner Brothers handled DC movies. From here on out there is much more of a marvel approach. You have a more dedicated group that handles the “DC Extended Universe” and is headed by one man. Geoff Johns. This was a great decision since he was a DC comics CCO/writer and was responsible for “The New 52” change over. That’s just some nerd-speak for people interested. I can’t stand comic books, especially the free ones given to people who bought early tickets for Suicide Squad.
What truly works for this movie is the style. The gaudy, nasty, Christmas in Las Vegas colors you see on all the ads are exactly what this movie is, in a good way. The music very up front and is a mix of 70s rock and modern hip hop. When it’s not too on the nose, it works very well.
Since this movie is more about the characters and less about the plot, let’s just spend some time going over the more important characters.
It’s a battle for who is the lead, but we can start with Will Smith as Deadshot. Perfect!
This is exactly the acting you want from Will Smith which he seemed to abandon for a while now. He is really cool, very funny and has lots of heart. He is the only instance where the “villain with a heart of gold” concept works (sadly not the only time it’s used). The beginning of the movie gives everyone a set up scene and right away you know Deadshot is the best. I can’t think of a movie Will Smith is more enjoyable in. Turning down Independence Day 2 for this movie… well done sir!
Coming in as co-lead is Harley Quinn. Arkham Asylum therapist-turned mad by the Joker and endlessly devoted to him. I
promise you will fall in love with her. She is most of the humor in this movie and is an almost perfect balance of brutally crazy and sweet. While she does give some lip-service to being bad and owning it, she goes soft in several scenes that would have been much more interesting had she chosen not to be the “villain with a heart of gold.” Her romance with Joker gets several flashbacks and nothing would make me happier than to have a movie with just those two in it. I was slightly concerned at how sexualized she would be in this film, considering the outfit they chose for her. It was quite clear that this film had little interest in sexuality and more in being crazy. And for fans of Harley’s origin, Batman: The Animated Series, that’s the voice affectation they went with. There are several easter eggs for Harley from that show.
Though he isn’t in the movie as much as you might think, let’s get to the new Joker. This was my biggest concern leading up to this movie.
We all know and love Heath Ledger’s take on the Joker. So was Jared Leto, especially with the really weird teeth and tattoos, going to pull off something as good? Truthfully this isn’t the movie to judge that. He plays a very secondary role in this film, but you do see enough to get a feel for him. If Heath Ledger was a homeless psychotic anarchist, Jared Leto is a slithering deranged mob boss. He is just as frightening as Heath but in a different way. He is much more menacing and unknowable. I loved it! He will be amazing to see next to Ben Affleck’s super serious tough guy batman. Other than flashbacks showing the bullet-points of his relationship with Harley, the only contribution Joker makes to the film is aggressively seeking a way to get Harley back. David Ayer said in interviews before the film that the teeth and tattoos on Joker would be explained and I’m sorry to say they were not. Jared Leto has recently come out saying that a lot of scenes he shot were cut so maybe that’s where it went. Regardless, I thought he was unnerving and creepy and a great new take.
Wow am I glad they scrapped EVERYTHING from the Ryan Reynolds Green Lantern, otherwise we wouldn’t have this version of Amanda Waller. She runs it all, and by that I mean truly everything. Viola Davis would make Sam Jackson cower with her words. She proves time and time again that she is unshakable and unstoppable. I hope she is as present in the DCEU as Nick Fury is in the MCU. She stares down all the monsters in this movie with complete confidence.
Now here is a character that no one expected anything from- Diablo. He seemed quite predictable from the trailers. I assumed he would be a stereotypical Mexican gang member that got mad easily and made self-destructive decision. FOOLED YOU!
Would you believe me if I said that because of a personal trauma, his fire-generating powers caused him to become a pacifist who felt genuine remorse for his former lifestyle? This is what I mean about Suicide Squad being two movies. Every character has a moment where you learn something about them and there is a glimmer of unique depth and story arc potential. Sadly most of them are a quick glimmer and then fade away or culminate in a loud action scene. This movie has seeds of greatness and Diablo is a big part of that. Sadly his emotional arc culminates in the poor looking CGI monster battle at the end.
Finally, the most contentious of all the characters, the Enchantress. Cara Delevingne plays archaeologist June Moone who is possessed by a centuries old witch named Enchantress while exploring some random cave. June has the ability to transform or “call upon” the Enchantress whenever she wants.
June gets a very small amount of screen time and Enchantress is a major plot point. Despite her potentially saucy outfit, most of the time you see her she is completely covered in dirt and crawling around on all-fours. At the end she becomes one of several casualties of the terrible CGI and bad plot points.
It’s a shame because I think there is a shell of a story there that could be interesting. I can’t think of a single instance of a witch in cinema that was interesting but I would be curious to follow Enchantress around and see what she does in the modern world.
I read a lot of reviews before and after I saw this movie and it’s mostly negative. I feel like I’m really sticking my neck out praising this film. Let me be clear, the editing is a nightmare, the plot is a Frankenstein of ideas and the music can be a bit heavy-handed. I also was disappointed that in the end, none of the team was truly bad. This was a great chance to explore themes of good and evil. Everyone here has done bad things and continues to do so, but the edges are polished off and in the end they are all lovable. Except the Joker. He’s creepy.
Ultimately what is going to make or break this movie for you is whether you enjoy being with these characters. And despite the loads of problems I’ve listed I really do enjoy them. So, perhaps that’s why I’m giving it a pass. With Batman v Superman the critics were harsh and I agreed! The critics are being just as harsh here but I just had so much fun I don’t care. I can’t wait to see it again and buy the Blu-Ray for all the cut scenes.
My job at WorldReViews is to examine films for their cinematic qualities and also interpret and present the worldview it is trying to communicate. I’ve diagnosed the films strengths and weaknesses, but what I wont be able to do is offer you a worldview. This film had a chance to examine the line between good and evil and have some fun with it. What’s frustrating is that there are small bits that demonstrate it could be that movie. There were massive reshoots and way too many people editing this film, and that shows. David Ayer is a smart film maker and technically has made this film before. It’s called Sabotage. It’s about a DEA taskforce that are all very extreme, not so nice people taking down even worse people. But in that movie some of them were actually evil and that worked itself out among the team. It’s also one of Arnold Schwarzenegger’s best performances on screen.
I feel guilty about this but I really do recommend this film. It has no intentional worldview subjects so I wont force any. The movie isn’t about that and I cannot stand when reviewers (usually from Christian organizations) force worldview implications from a movie that isn’t trying to push one. It’s like squeezing an apple really hard to make a glass of orange juice. I’m trying to see this movie for what it is and despite the list of failings I just enjoyed it a lot. It’s a solid PG-13 so don’t bring the little ones, but most of the violence is towards creatures. The language is the main issue. So be discerning if you bring kids.
There is a mid-credit scene so don’t leave right away. I expect more to come from it in the DCEU.
If you can go and just enjoy the team being crazy and not mind the plot problems you will love this movie. I cheered, I laughed out loud and I hesitate to say I got a little misty-eyed at one point.
If you have questions about this review, want to discuss superhero movies in general, or you want to share which villains you think would make a great team, leave a comment or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Review by Ryan.
My suicide squad would be Darth Maul, Bane (TDKR), John Lithgow from Cliffhanger, Lord Voldimort, Lord Humongous, and Marcellus Wallace (Pulp Fiction).