Evil is as evil does,
And evil doesn’t mind because
While good is following the rules,
The baddies laugh them off as fools.
To be a nut or psychopath,
You dwell in envy, greed, and wrath
And do your best to put the pest
Of conscience finally to rest.
Despite the evil laugh and smirk,
A qualm or two may be at work.
Though hearts of darkness look askance,
Perhaps the good just needs a chance.
MPAA rating: PG-13
Suicide Squad proves that an awesome trailer does not always mean an awesome movie. Like many, I was disappointed with the dreary excesses of Batman v. Superman and had real hope that Suicide Squad would be a much-needed dose of cheeky fun for the DC Extended Universe. While it could be seen that way, the packaging leaves much to be desired. Suicide Squad continues the DC trend of jamming as many plots and characters as possible into a feature-length film and never reaching the full potential of any of them. I keep coming back to what one of my coworkers said after watching it. As a DC purist, she excitedly announced, “That movie was… [I expected descriptors like “awesome,” “thrilling,” “hilarious,” but no, she said] …not bad.” Okay, I’ll give her that.
Suicide Squad is DC’s version of The Dirty Dozen. Ruthless government official Amanda Waller (Viola Davis) decides to recruit the most skilled prisoners of Belle Reve Prison as an insurance policy against rogue metahuman threats, one of which crops up from her own meddling with supernatural beings. I have to admit that it’s a talented cast they’ve assembled here. Will Smith as gunmeister Deadshot could be considered the heart of the team, with his concern for his young daughter, and Smith’s natural likability makes him the most sympathetic of the group, along with Jay Hernandez’s fire-wielding Diablo. Margot Robbie gets all of the attention as bat-crazy Joker groupie Harley Quinn, while Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje (Lost alert!) and Jai Courtney can’t quite represent Killer Croc and Captain Boomerang as more than one-note characters with some occasional comic relief. And that’s not even mentioning team chaperone Rick Flag (Joel Kinnaman), his dark-sided lover June Moone/Enchantress (Cara Delevingne), his sword-swinging bodyguard Katana (Karen Fukuhara), and one other member of the Squad who is given such little attention that he might as well have “REDSHIRT” taped to his back. Oh, and wasn’t the Joker in this too?
Let’s be honest: this is DC trying to do what Marvel did with Guardians of the Galaxy, teaming up purported baddies as a ragtag fighting force that falls somewhere in between the definitions of “hero” and “anti-hero.” Guardians succeeded with that middle ground, thanks to the fact that one was repentant, one was driven by grief until a moment of realization, and the other three weren’t all that bad at heart, but Suicide Squad stumbles by giving us actual villains without much in the way of reform. This commitment to anti-heroism leaves the audience grasping for someone to root for. Every time you start sympathizing with a character, you’re reminded that they’re an unrepentant psychopath or a brutal enforcer, and that’s supposedly okay? Waller herself is no better than her minions, willing to kill her subordinates without a second glance or any repercussions.
The tone and look of the film also fall short of the mark. The special effects are top-of-the-line, but the editing and visual aesthetic are frequently choppy and muddled. What was intended as gritty, fun, and irreverent turns out to be loud, garish, and confusing. Perhaps the latest version of the Joker exemplifies the film’s unsavory aspects. Jared Leto is not a bad actor, but as the Joker, he’s no Heath Ledger or Jack Nicholson. Instead of the maniacal jokester we’ve come to expect, he’s basically a gaudy gangster whose craziness fails to stand out from that of the other characters. While some have complained about his limited screen time, I didn’t mind.
It wasn’t my intention for this to be an entirely negative review. Suicide Squad is not without its strengths; they’re just buried in the mountain of plot that the filmmakers couldn’t bear to part with. While Deadshot and Harley Quinn have received most of the acclaim, I preferred some of the less developed characters. Diablo’s remorse for his past misdeeds made him the most admirable of the group, coupled with some cool powers, and I would have liked to have seen more of Katana and her soul-capturing sword. One moment of hallucinations revealed the positive dreams that even villains have, and I wish they could have built on that source of sympathy. Flashbacks aside, the plot actually made for a decently paced action movie, even if it yielded to the familiar overblown climax toward the end. And though there was nothing laugh-out-loud, I suppose I appreciate the fact that Suicide Squad wasn’t afraid to chuckle at itself. Plus, it at least didn’t have any obviously stupid twist like Batman v. Superman.
I wanted to enjoy Suicide Squad more than I did, but while my respect for many films often increases with time and thought, this one has actually lessened in my estimation the more I think of it. It’s not terrible, just muddy and flawed. DC may still be a powerhouse moneymaker, but if they can’t churn out a better superhero movie soon, they won’t have the longevity of Marvel. Wonder Woman looks pretty darn good at this point, and I just hope that the trailer is actually a good representation next time.
Best line: (Griggs, a petty prison guard afraid of Deadshot) “Ames, If this man shoots me, I want you to kill him, and I want you to go clear my browser history.”
Rank: Honorable Mention (only because I’d probably see it again)
© 2016 S.G. Liput
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