Movie Review: Suicide Squad

From director David Ayer, whose unique, gritty style has touched every genre from war dramas to police procedural thrillers, comes his next leap into the always-flourishing superhero genre. Tossing in a few wildcards as he brings some of DC Comics' biggest names in villainy to the big screen for the first time, Ayer's newest project, Suicide Squad, managed to not only offer fans a peek at the future of the DC Extended Universe, but also delivered a highly-enjoyable -- if not completely unorthodox -- team-up film for the ages. 

In a post-Superman world, where heroes remain in the shadows and vigilantes are our sole protectors even when we can barely trust their motives, who is left to save the world from unexpected and undeniably alien forces that threaten to destroy us? How about a couple of low-level, foul-mouthed thieves, a psychotic and mentally-unstable loon, a cannibalistic beast from the city's underbelly, and a snarky hit-man just looking to cut his check? Forced to construct a team of the worst of the worst as she begins to realize the true threats that could potentially lead the world's demise, hard-knocked government official Amanda Waller (Viola Davis) must place every ounce of her faith in a crew of unsettling and highly unstable villains to do her dirty work. But with their own emotional issues at hand -- as well as the deranged Clown Prince of Crime, the Joker (Jared Leto), hot on their trail -- can this "Suicide Squad" really pull together and save a world that's already turned its back on them?

Ever since our first grim and slightly deranged peek at the latest project from DC Comics and Warner Bros. back in summer 2015, I knew right away that I'd definitely be on board for the off-kilter superhero flick Suicide Squad. Offering an almost-Guardians of the Galaxy-type film, set to introduce a plethora of fascinating characters comic book fans have been waiting ages to finally get their spot on the big screen, I had a strong feeling that if March's Batman v Superman didn't bring DC to the top, this one would definitely be the kicker. After Dawn of Justice took a dive among both critics and fans, I began to wonder if this unhinged team-up flick would be DC's last hope. What may have met a similar fate as Dawn to many, however, I found Suicide Squad to be possibly DC and Warner Bros.' best creation yet. Polarized with the film, however, just as I was with the lackluster Dawn of Justice, neither loving it nor despising it, I eventually found a lot more to enjoy in this rogue team-up film than even the biggest face-off in superhero film history (on DC's side of things anyways).

Delivering an ill-behaved mad-house of unique filmmaking from director David Ayer, along with a grab-bag of superb performances from the likes of Will Smith, Jared Leto, and Margot Robbie, despite the reactions from many critics (aka 85% ignorant fanboys), I actually enjoyed Suicide Squad a lot. Never doubting that for a second, I walked into the film hyped as hell, ready to wowed. While I might not have been wowed to any outrageous degree, the film was just the right amount of crazy and chaotic filmmaking to seem almost purposefully stylized that way. Yes, while it eventually became quite apparent that the film was cut and edited fairly oddly, it never really took away from the whole viewing experience for me. While I did notice problems right away with the film's final battle, which felt like it took nearly half the film, the stylized effort put into the film and the vision of its director made the film far from impossible or unbearable to watch.

Aside from its somewhat flawed storytelling -- which struggled to balance both the introductions of its colorful line-up and its central plot of an unlikely team of super-powered crooks coming together to defeat another super-powered crook -- one thing that stood out to me right away with this film was its cast. Effectively embodying their characters with ease, it was a delight to finally see grittier, more realistic versions of the DC comic-book characters come to live on-screen.  While there were definitely stand-outs in the cast that made a bigger impression on me -- from Will Smith's snarky-yet-tormented hit-man Deadshot to Viola Davis' firm and undaunted Amanda Waller -- each character in this film held their own against one another, delivered enjoyable performances all around (minus the poor Adam Beach aka Slipknot, who unfortunately got to speak barely one word before, well...Spoiler Alert!)

One of my favorite characters of the film had to be Jay Hernandez's
fiery El Diablo, who stole the show with his intense backstory. Hell,
 even Jai Courtney's brony Aussie Captain Boomerang was a joy to watch 
While much of the cast I did find highly enjoyable to watch, I can't go without praising two characters DC fans have been dying to see meet up in the live-action platform for decades now. That's right, I'm talking about the king and queen themselves, the sociopathic couple of the Joker and Harley Quinn. Ultimately one of the driving elements of the film, Jared Leto's obsessive gangster Joker yearning to have his Harley (Margot Robbie) back in his tattooed arms, the violent yet irresistible relationship between the Joker and Harley Quinn became a major highlight of the film. Respectively just as brilliant apart as they were together, both Robbie and Leto completely nailed their roles in my opinion. Robbie delivering a sweet and sincere Harley mixed with a tad bit of insanity, while Leto completely diving into his psychotic role as a more refined, modern gangster version of the Clown Prince of Crime, while the duo might not have gotten a whole lot of screen-time in each other's arms, I thought the two brought new life to these popular comic-book villains.

Utterly insane in nearly every form there is, the Joker is always
evolving into something whimsically surprising 
With such a fantastic array of characters at its disposal, and the gritty lore of the Suicide Squad comic-book exploits offering up countless storylines to adapt, it was a bit surprising to see that one of the biggest problems of this film was its story -- more specifically its lengthy third act. With its pacing bearable for the most part of the first hour or so, once the film's central antagonist was introduced, things got a bit hairy. Employing a pretty generic -- if not completely predictable -- foe to throw up against the crew of baddies in Cara Delevingne's mystical Enchantress, one of the major flaws I had with this movie was that its climactic battle felt both drawn out and oddly quite rushed in the end. Initially unleashing her generic "take back the world that was ours" mayhem on the city, it takes a mighty long time for Delevingne's villain to actually do anything other than toss mud piles of faceless minions at the squad (who were otherwise wandering aimlessly around deciding whether or not to fight). Once the final battle rolls around, while it does offer up a brilliant cinematic scene full of awesome slow-motion Will Smith and beasts of fire duking it out, it all felt a bit commonplace and ultimately underwhelming in the end.

Overall, while it might not be the best comic book movie of the year, DC's Suicide Squad effectively brought an entertaining and highly unusual project to the ever-enterprising genre. Although it may suffer from studio interference and a somewhat haphazardly-constructed story, director David Ayer's gritty vision for what the superhero genre needs was never overlooked. Not nearly as bad as last year's Fantastic 4 -- another film buried by studio interference and misguidance -- Suicide Squad prospered on its most notable elements, from its strong performances to its distinctive and ludicrous style.

I gave this film a 7 out of 10, because despite its poor reception among the flawed bunch of critics and fanboys out there, this all-villain team-up film delivered not only a good time, but also a plethora of delightful comic book nods that any fan of the superhero genre can appreciate. Only adding to a still-misguided but still greatly anticipated cinematic universe for DC Comics, Suicide Squad is one step closer to what could be a comic-book film franchise just as successful as the one crafted by Marvel Studios. 


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