Suicide Squad (2016)

Review #1,335

Director:  David Ayer
Cast:  Will Smith, Jared Leto, Margot Robbie, Viola Davis, Jai Courtney, Cara Delevingne, Joel Kinnaman
Plot:  A secret government agency recruits a group of imprisoned supervillains to execute dangerous black ops missions in exchange for clemency, which inevitably leads to chaos.

Genre:  Action / Adventure / Comedy
Awards:  Won 1 Oscar - Best Makeup & Hairstyling
Runtime:  123min
Rating:  PG13 for sequences of violence and action throughout, disturbing behavior, suggestive content and language.
Distributor:  Warner Brothers

“Oh, I'm not gonna kill you... I'm just gonna hurt you really, really bad.”

If this is how DC Comics are building up to Justice League, they really need some kind of miraculous redemption (perhaps in Wonder Woman!). Many fans claim there's inherent positive bias by critics toward Marvel films, but that's far from the truth.  Marvel makes us care about the characters and the circumstances they are in. Complexities of relationship dynamics, politics, and larger-than-life issues keep us riveted.

DC, on the other hand (with the anomalous exception of Christopher Nolan's ‘Batman' trilogy), seem to try to force as many new characters as possible into one movie, throw them random scenarios, and see if it all makes sense.  I admire their risk-taking though—DC are like the guys steering the trucks in The Wages of Fear (1953), uncertain when they will implode or explode, but as long as there’s a humongous dollar sign at the end of the journey, it’s worth a shot. 

Suicide Squad, as tantalizing as the notion of bad guys teaming up to fight a greater evil sounds, is possibly the year’s most spectacular misfire—but would anyone care?  

I ask this because Warner Brothers have a great marketing team to pull off a heist at the box-office.  Audiences, of course, will be attracted to the novelty of its concept, just like how they flocked to the novelty of seeing, as its title brilliantly anticipated, Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016).  Critics now largely accept a new normal for DC superhero movies—expect the worst, and all will be well. 

There’s no point mentioning the plot because the script is terribly blotchy.  Let’s just say that by the end of the movie, we are back to square one.  I think it is incredibly ironic—or absurd—that the first mission of the ‘Suicide Squad’ is to solve a problem that its very assembly helped create. 

There’s a part in the middle involving the Joker (Jared Leto), Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie), and Amanda Waller (Viola Davis) that makes no sense—you have to see it to believe that such screenwriting exists.  Much of the movie feels like it is still in the conceptual stage, waiting for someone who can arrange the disparate elements in a coherent way. 

Most of the characters are poorly-developed—the Joker is utterly disposable, and the rest are defined by what they can do.  I want to know how they feel and what they think.  The silver lining is in Quinn, embodied perfectly by Robbie.  Without her, and to some extent, Deadshot (Will Smith), the movie would have been as dead as night.  For the first twenty or so minutes, Suicide Squad felt so alive.  If only it was a short film.

Verdict:  Poorly-developed characters and a blotchy script plague possibly the year’s most spectacular misfire—but would anyone care?


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