Things Are Getting Messy
Inspired by characters from DC Comics and acting as the next chapter in the DC Cinematic Universe following Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, Suicide Squad is unique in the superhero genre in that its “heroes” are villains. The movie’s director, David Ayer, has described it as a “comic book version of The Dirty Dozen.” The concept is intriguing and the trailers certainly made it look like an entertaining romp, but unfortunately the first thought that comes to mind when watching the film is “what a mess.”
The structural problems begin immediately as the movie opens by introducing us to two of the lead characters: Will Smith’s Floyd Lawton (aka Deadshot) and Margot Robbie’s Harley Quinn. These introductions are fine, but after the title screen we are re-introduced to these characters by Amanda Waller, the agency official whose bright idea it was to gather all these dangerous criminals together. Not five minutes in and the movie is already feeling as if it is repeating itself. We are then introduced to several other members of the team in typical “let’s get a team together” Hollywood fashion with brief backstories, but other characters are added in at the last minute with little more than a quick mention of their name.
By this point, we have also been introduced to the movie’s villain who immediately sets in motion a clichéd plan to destroy the world. The structure of the movie from here on out is more video game than cinematic adventure, as the team has to fight its way through legions of faceless—in this case, literally—henchman on their way toward a goal. Once they reach that goal, they are given another goal, and so on and so forth. All of this is leading up to the inevitable confrontation with the big heavy. The identity of the big bad is somewhat of a surprise, which is nice. If only the villain were more interesting.
The more interesting villain, on that point, would have been Jared Leto’s Joker, but he is reduced to a side character. It is definitely an interesting and frightening take on the classic character, sort of a cartel drug lord meets 1930s movie mobster with a lunatic clown twist. He gets only about ten minutes of screen time, though, as we are left with the far less interesting villains.
Of course, all of the characters in the movie are villains and because of that we aren’t really given anything about them with which to sympathize. Deadshot is the only one who is given something emotional to latch onto (his estranged daughter), but we’re meant to like the other characters pretty much solely for their offbeat personalities. The only one of the “worst heroes ever” who really works is Harley Quinn. In a movie with a deep cast, Margot Robbie stands out and continues to prove that she is a legitimate movie star with the ability to play a wide range of characters.
Instead of being something fresh, new, and fun, Suicide Squad is loaded with numerous overused comic book movie clichés that audiences are already starting to groan over: world destruction machines, hordes of interchangeable enemies, gratuitous property damage, et cetera. Unfortunately, these are getting tiresome quick and despite there being a fun moment here and there, Suicide Squad does not offer enough positives to balance out its flaws.
Suicide Squad is rated PG-13 for “sequences of violence and action throughout, disturbing behavior, suggestive content, and language.” It was somewhat surprising to find that this movie about the worst of the worst was only rated PG-13 and not R, but I guess when they are killing faceless monsters instead of human beings, it keeps the rating down.
Courtesy of a local publicist, Jeff attended a promotional screening of Suicide Squad.