After months and month of hype (and virtual pleading from Warner Bros. for audiences to like this film) Suicide Squad has finally come to theaters and like its cast of characters, it has a few flaws. That is not to say that it is not enjoyable to watch. It’s an entertaining film. Is it good? Well, that depends.
As of late, DC Comic movies make a lot of money, but not as much as Warner Bros. would like. Each has its own set of fans that “loved” it regardless of the content but has faced a lot more backlash from others. Most complain that the films Man of Steel and Batman v Superman were too dark. Some say that the films would have done better if they were rated “R” as if the rating were some sort of magic wand. So, it is of no surprise that Suicide Squad had numerous tweaks in hopes of appeasing the fans as well as the critics. Instead of making a better movie, the end result is a choppy mess with little focus. Still, there are some diamonds in the rough if you seek them.
“I want to assemble a task force of the most dangerous people on the planet – the worst of the worst – who I think can do some good.” Says Amanda Waller, played by Viola Davis who is essentially just playing out a slightly different version of Annalise Keating from her TV show, How To Get Away With Murder. Suicide Squad opens with Waller stating that she has “got them all” even referring to Harley Quinn as the Joker’s girlfriend, but … she doesn’t have the Joker, creating the start of the first plot hole. Does she really think that she can use Harley without any backlash from the Joker?
The second plot hole is the actual task that she has planned for this rag tag of characters. It’s possible that I missed something (it’s easy to do with this movie) but it seems as if she had assembled them all for one mission but then all hell breaks loose and they end up serving another mission altogether.
The cast for Suicide Squad is huge and there is little attempt to bring the audience up to speed on who each character is. Some are given larger backstories (albeit told in a minute or two) and a few are almost added in as “oh, by the way, this guy is part of the squad too” characters. The three that we learn the most about are Harley Quinn, the Joker and Deadshot who are really the best parts of Suicide Squad.
As mentioned, Quinn (played by Margot Robbie) is the girlfriend of the Joker. She was a psychiatrist (Dr. Harleen Quinzel) assigned to the Joker (Jared Leto) who ended up falling in love with him. What I wanted in this film was to explain why she fell in love with him. Though no fault on Robbie’s part, her character development is pretty thin. She is less than convincing in her flashback scenes playing the psychiatrist, but is much better as the full-fledged nuthouse that is Harley Quinn. For Leto, he makes a fine Joker that stands out as different from the ones who played the character before him, but for so much talk about this role, you would have thought that he would have shown up more often in the movie. Deadshot (Will Smith) is an assassin who never misses a shot. The only thing that keeps him from going off the edge completely is his love for his daughter who wants nothing more than her daddy to stop killing people. How these two come from the same family is a bit of a mystery, but it helps to give his character a little humanity.
Other villains on the squad include Boomerang (Jai Courtney) an obnoxious bank robber from Australia, Diablo (Jay Herandez) who can set fires instantly, June Moone and her counterpart Enchantress (Cara Delevingne) who is one messed up witch, Slipknot (Adam Beach) a master of rope apparently, and Killer Croc a man who looks and acts more like a crocodile with little backstory.
The group is led by military leader Rick Flag (Joel Kinnaman) and aided by Katana, another “oh, by the way” characters. It is never really explained why she is helping Flag. Waller has something on all of these characters and implants some device in each of their necks that will explode if any of the squad members try to go rogue. Together, they have to fight an impossible foe to save themselves and the world. The film is chaotic and confusing, but overall, a good time.
However, what helps this movie is its underlying theme of redemption. Harley is a mess, but deep down just wants to be “normal,” Deadshot wants to do good so that he can reunited with his daughter and prove to her that is a complete screw up and Diablo has huge regrets from the crimes he has caused in the past.
In a rare quiet moment in the film, the villains sit around and access their situation. One spouts off to Harley that she is beautiful on the outside, but inside she is ugly. She barks back, “We all are!” And there’s the rub.
I couldn’t help but take this scene and compare it to Christians attending Sunday morning church services, myself included. While this isn’t the case with everyone, many of us attend church with big smiles on our faces on the outside while on the inside we are dealing with pain or wrestling with insecurity. It’s easy to pass by each other and never notice what’s really going on inside of each other. Either we don’t ask, they don’t feel like they can tell or a little of both.
Suicide Squad doesn’t try too hard to make us feel sorry for the villains and not all of them are asking for acceptance, but it was nice to see some humanity shown. For those who are eager to see Batman (Ben Affleck) again, you’ll be pleased by the few scenes he shows up in. Also, another DC hero makes a cameo appearance, but blink and you’ll miss him.
Main Image: Warner Bros.
I write about pop culture, arts and entertainment in the greater Seattle area.