Saturday, August 6, 2016

Movie Review #466: "Suicide Squad" (2016)

Movie"Suicide Squad"
Director: David Ayer
Rating: PG-13
Running Time: 2 hours, 3 minutes
Image Source
The government puts together a team of elite super criminals to combat the threat of a possible attack by Metahumans.

Written and directed by David Ayer, "Suicide Squad" is the third film in DC's expanded universe. Sought out by an intelligence operative named Amanda Waller, played by the always fierce Viola Davis, with the reluctant blessing of the U.S. government, the Squad is brought together and put in the precarious position of being both protagonists and villains at heart. The cast for this movie is impressive and immense. The most famous, most notable actor filling the lineup of this band of misfits is Will Smith, who plays Deadshot, a hit-man for hire who never misses his target. Next, Margot Robbie plays Harley Quinn, the acrobatic, deranged, psychopathic psychiatrist-turned-girlfriend of the Joker, played by Jared Leto, who has some rather big shoes to fill following Heath Ledger's award winning 2008 performance as the same character. Jay Hernandez plays El Diablo, a gang-banger who can impressively (and awesomely) shoot fire from his body. Other parts include Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje's Killer Croc, a super strong crocodile man; Cara Delevingne's Enchantress, an ancient witch with magical powers; Joel Kinnaman's Rick Flagg, an elite Special Forces soldier and the boyfriend of Enchantress' alter ego June Moone; Jai Courtney's Captain Boomerang, a thief who throws boomerangs; and Karen Fukuhara's Katana, an elite martial artist and swordsman. Oh, and then there's Adam Beach, who plays Slipknot, a mercenary who can climb things really well, but gets virtually no back story. Poor Slipknot.

The first 20-25 minutes of "Suicide Squad" includes a large Pop-Up Video-style exposition scene which gives the audience a frame of reference and background on most of these characters. At some point after this flashy and choppy opening segment, the movie simply starts, and these antiheroes are unleashed in order to contain a problem the government itself has created. Apart from the introductions at the beginning, the vast majority of the movie consists of a hike across a desolate city with brief moments of action and fighting in between, until the Squad gets to their destination. There are a few entertaining, enjoyable moments during this cross-city trek, and though these sequences can be fun, they don't carry the pure excitement level we crave from a story where the villains are the heroes and everything is topsy-turvy. Most of the film focuses on Deadshot and Harley Quinn the entire time, leaving enough room for El Diablo to shine at the beginning of the third act. Rick Flagg gets a lot of time to be "vexed," and surprisingly, though he isn't all that developed, Captain Boomerang gets to display major snark with his somewhat comedic character. Amanda Waller is the overarching thread bringing them together/making them stay put, but apart from these few characters, the rest are just about useless.

One of our main issues with "Suicide Squad" is one of the two main villains. We won't divulge who it is here because David Ayer and company made it a point to avoid mentioning who the antagonist would be, but we must say, after watching the film, we still aren't quite sure who one of the two of them is anyway. Think obscure, which doesn't necessarily mean bad, it just means there is an affinity towards pleasing hardcore comic book fans over the general population. There is some horrendously bad CGI implemented in the creation of this villain, which hearkens back to Jamie Foxx's character in "The Amazing Spider-Man 2" in terms of its face-to-CGI crossover. To be honest, we might be being a bit too nice by saying it's closer to "The Amazing Spider-Man 2," when in reality, it may have given us flashbacks to something as bad as "The Scorpion King." The villain isn't the only place within the context of "Suicide Squad" with poorly done CGI. In fact, most it is pretty unpolished, which is inexcusable for a film with a budget this size ($175 million). At least the main villain gets a bit more backstory, but they are both very shallow characters without much clear motivation other than the standard "I should rule the world" shtick. This main villain is able to make a virtually infinite army of peons to serve them, and these faceless, bubbling creatures reminded us of Doctor Doom in "Fantastic Four" with his robot eczema, same color palette and all.

Look, we don't hate "Suicide Squad" by any means, but we don't love it, either. We were primarily worried there would be too much focus on individual characters and not the Squad as a whole. Though there are some instances where they must come together and fight like the quirky, badass team they are, it's pretty obvious who this movie is really about: Harley Quinn and Deadshot. There are many good elements within its acting, from Viola Davis' amazing portrayal of Amanda Waller, to Margot Robbie's spot-on Harley Quinn, to Jay Hernandez's fiery and slightly subdued El Diablo. Hell, even Jai Courtney stands out for us as a worthwhile part of this story, but the execution is too hit and miss to make this band of misfits stand apart from the mediocre. The narrative gets lost somewhere along the way as several villains are completely underdeveloped (Adam Beach's Slipknot) and others are way too overexposed (Will Smith's Deadshot, and even Harley Quinn) to the point where "Suicide Squad" feels more like their standalone movie than a film with the tagline promising the "Worst. Heroes. Ever."

We wanted more mayhem, more destruction, more madness, the chaos we were promised from the two trailers we watched. The filmmakers seem like they were more concerned with putting together a baller soundtrack and a worthwhile (but mostly absent) portrayal of the the Joker from Jared Leto than they were developing all of its characters properly or making a cohesive story with good (rather than shoddy) editing. We wonder how much of this film got hacked apart by studio-led chicanery and pushy intervention. Regardless, we can feel a "director's cut" coming from a mile away, and if DC continues down the route of releasing a film only to force audiences to see an extended version 6-8 months later, it might already be too late for them. At the end of the day, it's not a total loss and should be seen on the big screen, but we hope the collective DC universe can pull itself out of whatever slump it's in in order to finally bring us a kick ass movie in any shape or form. Unfortunately, this ain't it. We were very much looking forward to "Suicide Squad," and we have to admit, though not downright terrible, it's pretty damn disappointing.

My Rating: 5/10
BigJ's Rating: 5/10
IMDB's Rating: 7.2/10
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 26%
Do we recommend this movie: Meh.


  1. We definitely just wanted more. Or something better. Or something at all. Fair review, and I agree! Check out my review if you get a chance :)

    1. Exactly! It seems like such a wasted opportunity. Oh well, maybe Justice League will fare better? But if we're being honest, we're not holding our breath..