For the year of 2016 you certainly won’t hear anyone say we were short on superhero movie entries. If anything it’s made fans as divisive as ever when it comes to the DC v. Marvel v. … Marvel rivalry (yeah, I’m looking at you Fox Marvel and Disney Marvel). One would think there’s enough room for everybody. But maybe there isn’t with underwhelming grosses of these supposed blockbusters, showing signs of genre fatigue as the year goes on. Either way, Suicide Squad does itself a favor by being spaced farther out than the others.
Intelligence officer Amanda Waller (played by Viola Davis) assembles a team of villains to take down a threat that the world has never seen before. With nothing to lose, she recruits the likes of Deadshot (played by Will Smith), Harley Quinn (played by Margot Robbie), Captain Boomerang (played by Jai Courtney) and other incarcerated big bads. Dubbed the Suicide Squad, they all must figure a way, however unconventional, to work together to stop one of the biggest threats the world has ever faced.
What I liked:
What truly sells this thing are the characters. Viola Davis was a good choice for the role. And I think Will Smith was the best thing about the film. Most of my favorite scenes involved him. Writers gave him better dialogue and more memorable action sequences and he really worked it out. He was a pleasant surprise compared to the trailer where it didn’t seem like he’d be that impressive. I like him when he’s not marketing his children (*cough cough* After Earth *cough cough*). He definitely made the better choice to film this over the Independence Day Sequel.
I thought Margot Robbie did a decent job. I wasn’t over the moon about her, but I feel like she gave it a solid try to embody the character. Harley Quinn is so complicated and multidimensional that perhaps being a part of an ensemble cast hurt the ability to flesh her out more.
I was always in Leto’s corner to be the Joker despite the grumblings that there can only be one Heath Ledger. I loved Heath Ledger’s Joker as well but I don’t believe the character has to retire with him and a fellow Oscar winner is more than qualified to take the reigns. In the end, I liked Leto’s interpretation. I bought what he was selling. That said, with all of the behind-the-scenes antics we’ve heard about in the press, I thought his role would be different. I was expecting him to be the focal bad guy (mind you I stayed away from as many spoilers as possible). Because of this he felt more one-dimensional but I think the character can evolve. I got a kick out of his interactions with Harley. Those were some of the more interesting parts of the film. They certainly delivered on the “crazy” element.
What I didn’t like:
The amount of characters both help and hurt the movie. Pacing was weird with all the introductions since they have to start from nearly scratch unlike the Marvel movies. It’s great for the characters that actually get focus frequently throughout the film. But for those that don’t it feels like dead weight. Less can be more with a more engaging plot and more interaction among the established characters of the bunch.
Scott Eastwood in particular felt out of place here. I expect him to be leading man material but his role could have been played by just about anyone. It felt tacked on.
I found myself often thinking of how much better an R rated version would have been. More grit and more imagination would have been helpful with most of the action scenes. Save for a couple of highlights I found them too one-note and forgettable.
There was also frequently weak dialogue and one-liners. Maybe these were added after the reshoots but they didn’t work for me.
I don’t think the audience and critics are looking for the same thing so I see it going over better with the general public than with critics. For me, it was okay, on the better side of superhero films this year. I put it over BvS and DEFINITELY over X-Men, but not quite over Deadpool and DEFINITELY not over Civil War. But I would like to see a sequel with some improvements and I hope it’s successful enough for that to happen.