Suicide Squad

suicidesquad

With a lot of general negativity surrounding Suicide Squad, I was worried coming into this. As disappointed as I am, I did like it. But it is…off. Not in the quirky movie way like Swiss Army Man but in the “something happened in the making of this” way.

Suicide Squad is an easy premise to describe. A task force (literally Task Force X) is put together by a secret government agency led by Amanda Waller. This team made up of criminals is an expendable one. They are meant to go on the most dangerous covert operations, stop things the general public may or may not know about. A team of lethal people to take on any kind of threat, foreign, domestic or meta-human (like Superman). Anyone on the team disobeys they are killed with a neck bomb on the spot. They die on a mission, oh well. They get caught, all knowledge of them is disavowed. They pull through and the award is some time shaved off of their prison sentence and it’s back into the hole until the next shady mission.

In an attempt to get some rather serious magical muscle, Waller discovers that Dr. June Moon has been possessed by an ancient and powerful being known as The Enchantress. Using the threat of death over Enchantress and a loving aid assigned to Moon, Waller thinks she has her ace in the hole. It doesn’t take long for the confident mortal to be proven painfully wrong. Enchantress revolts and Task Force X is given their first job.

Looking to Suicide Squad’s comic book roots, the cast of characters is mostly from its current iteration. Harley Quinn and Deadshot are the headliners with June Moone and Rick Flag being more or less the hub of the main plot and Diablo being the B plot.

The best part of the movie is easily the casting.  Will Smith holds it down as Will Smith as Deadshot. He’s likable and knows how to work it in an action movie. He’s given the most robust background story. Margot Robbie gives a great live action take on one of DC’s biggest characters, Harley Quinn. Coming out of this movie, she probably has the best chance in appearing in the most sequels/spin-offs. Viola Davis is perfectly cast as Amanda Waller, a staple of many stories in the DC Universe.

The problem is, it’s all diluted. There are too many characters. The first 20 or so minutes is a “here are the characters” get to know you montage. Once the intros are done, we do get some great interactions and lines throughout. But Katana, Captain Boomerang, Slipknot (for obvious reasons), Killer Croc and Diablo are given very little to do. For as big of a push Diablo ultimately gets in the end, he more or less walks around in the background for the entire movie. So all these characters aren’t used well and they eat up valuable time that takes away from fan favorites Harley and Joker. I really like what I saw of Jared Leto’s Joker and he looks fantastic standing next to Harley on screen. That’s a major comic book moment for a lot of people.

I think it’s all too much for one film. With half of the movie being the creation of the team, establishing what WB wants to be a franchise, there needed to be more focus. Ditch the Enchantress and run with Joker trying to get Harley away from Waller’s grasp. The parts with Harley and Joker are great, but it’s all chopped up and feels rushed (they go more their Animated Series love relationship to make it easier to stomach since J is often so horrific to her in the books). Give us more of them! The Enchantress angle is basic, cliched, and the mission ends up being pretty lame. It all makes the decision to shy away from Harley and Joker that much more disappointing.

The action is shockingly sparse too. Very few actions scenes, what’s there is rather short with very few stand out moments. You don’t get to see half of the cast do much of anything. Why is Captain Boomerang in this if we barely see him throw a damn boomerang? If they spent half as much on the set pieces as they did for the soundtrack, we could have seen some really wild stuff. For an ensemble comic book movie where The Avengers set the action bar so many years ago, Suicide Squad is oddly devoid of highlights.  The Squad is full of degenerates and psychos but we never get a real sense of that. It’s so weird, the people we watch come off more or less as nice guys. Again, less would have been more.

Despite all of the above poo-pooing, I think the movie looks fantastic. Spot on costumes and a lot of the VFX look awesome. I love how they made Enchantress look (the hand roll over in the bunker is so cool) and there are some striking visuals with her at the end. Killer Croc is one of my favorite characters and he looks awesome. Fantastic makeup on him even though he just looks oddly scrawny when he comes out of costume (the dude should be thick has a brick house from head to toe). Diablo’s fire abilities rock and the direction is overall solid.

I think Suicide Squad started out being too ambitious. No solid foundation with too many additions weighing it down. This should have been a wild and crazy movie that sits outside of DC’s superhero mold. I’m curious to see the shooting script to see how much was changed in post-production. Is this one that got worse because of studio intervention or was it simply rushed? With some of the wildest villains in the industry on screen, it’s a shame that most of Suicide Squad comes off as disposable.

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