Belle Reve Prison
Whenever Batman Vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice hit the big screen earlier this year, fans were split over how good the film really was. I enjoyed it, but there were plenty more people out there that thought it could have been better or that it was out and out horrible. The release of an extended, R-rated version on Blu-ray and DVD seemed to shift opinions somewhat, but the damage was done, particularly thanks to the “professional” critics that panned the film.
Suicide Squad looked to be a game changer for Warner Bros, though, as recent fan reaction to the trailers was very positive and audiences seemed to be okay with Jared Leto’s visually shocking take on the Joker despite early worries.
Heads up: Potential for mild spoilers ahead, but I try my best to avoid them.
Critics, of course, panned the film. Some of them gave legitimate reasons for their dislike of the movie such as the choppy editing that I also noticed and the visual appearance of the primary villain (whom I actually liked, but can see this particular character as off-putting to some) . Others gave standard anti-comic book film rants or tried to compare the film to Marvel films which play to a different crowd. Then you had this blurb about the film’s record opening weekend that opens with foul-language-meant-to-sound-cool and goes on to whine that this “very bad” film didn’t deserve to rake in so much money. It apparently put a sour taste in the author’s mouth, based on the attitude she lined the “article” with throughout.
In my opinion, the film is just fine. I liked it just as much as I liked BvS, but in an entirely different way. Why? Because it is an entirely different film. Instead of true blue heroes, we get a hodgepodge of lowlifes, crooks, murderers, and rejects that are sent out on a suicide mission in order to stop a powerful villain.
Remember that this film takes place after the events in BvS, where humanity fears metahumans. They wonder about who will stop these powerful beings that seem to be popping up all over the place now. Amanda Waller (played with stone cold perfection by Viola Davis) draws up a scheme to take a group of villains with special abilities and basically toss them at the first big baddie that comes along. She uses a number of means (some pretty ruthless) to convince each member of the squad to join. If they survive, they are promised certain concessions. If they fail, the world is rid of a few more bad guys and the federal government comes out smelling like a rose.
It sounds like a win-win situation for Waller, but to keep things in check she has explosive nano devices implanted into the necks of each member of the squad. If anybody makes a break for it or tries to jeopardize the mission, Waller or team leader Rick Flag (Joel Kinnaman) can detonate the device and kill the baddie. What Waller doesn’t count on is the treachery of one member of the group that forces the Suicide Squad into action and the rather psychotic boyfriend of another member of the squad who determines to save his lady.
Now, with the brief plot summary out of the way, let’s get down to business. I agree with a lot of the negative critics’ reviews that the editing in this film is choppy. There were definitely some jarring cuts in the film that made the viewer pause for a second. However, that jarring effect worked well in conveying to the audience that despite the Suicide Squad’s questionable life choices, the “legal” baddies (I’m looking at Waller) can be just as sinister as the illegal ones. In fact, I’d go so far as to say that Amanda Waller is the most “gangsta” (to borrow a term from Deadshot, a.k.a. Will Smith) person in the entire film, and that’s a film that includes the likes of Captain Boomerang (Jai Courtney) and Killer Croc (Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje)!
Speaking of Boomerang and Killer Croc, I’ve got to mention that the way the members of the squad were introduced at the beginning of the film was excellent. The heavily stylized intros to each character set their individual tones for the rest of the movie. It was brilliant.
Another thing that I liked about the film was the relationships built between characters. Deadshot and Flag start off the film as sworn enemies, but eventually learn to respect each other despite their moral and legal differences. Margot Robbie’s Harley Quinn has that one relationship that everybody knows about, but she also developed bonds with all of the team, especially Deadshot. Killer Croc, Slipknot (the underused Adam Beach), Katana (the-way-cooler-than-I-thought-she’d-be Karen Fukuhara), Captain Boomerang, Diablo (the almost unrecognizable Jay Hernandez), and Enchantress (the twistedly perfect Cara Delevingne) all developed bonds of their own, with some relationships being key to the film’s plot (so I won’t spoil’em here).
The action was very good, although the CGI was a tad lacking during some of the fight sequences. Killer Croc and Katana had some excellently brutal scenes and Deadshot took the lead on a lot of the action sequences. Diablo had an extremely cool (Or should I say hot?) power, but it was held in check until the last moment and it was brilliant. Enchantress gets a lot of CGI for both her looks and her powers, and I really liked them both. In fact, there were certain points in the film where Enchantress became so dark and consumed by blackness, that she appeared to seemingly be negative space. It was an excellent effect.
The cast did an excellent job as well. We have all got a heaping helping of how wonderful most people believe Margot Robbie’s portrayal of Harley is, and the hype is definitely earned. Robbie steals a lot of scenes. Considering the fact that she spends some of that time on screen with Jared Leto’s psychotic gangster version of the Joker and also with a certain vigilante who likes to dress up as a bat and fight baddies, that’s saying something.
Yes, Leto’s Joker looks extremely different from previous film-based versions of the character, but a lot of his look comes directly from the comics. I see a lot of the New 52 Joker in the character and a few nods to the A Death In The Family Joker as well. Also, there’s a brilliant nod to Alex Ross’ excellent artwork featuring Harley and the Joker during the film. Be sure to look for it!
Also, I’ve heard people say that Leto culled parts of Heath Ledger’s version of the character from The Dark Knight, but that couldn’t be farther from the truth. Leto gives us a very loyal representation of the character. Hopefully he’ll be fleshed out a bit more in later films, as I still haven’t seen enough of the character to decide just how good he really is.
I want to specifically point out Jay Hernandez’ performance as Diablo. Although it was a smaller role in the film, Hernandez poured a lot of emotion and heart into his portrayal of a man who regrets what he has done and refuses to join in on the battles that the squad takes part in during the film. Diablo’s actions in the movie, as well as the remorse and emotional weight he carries for his past, are brilliantly conveyed through Hernandez.
I really enjoyed this film. It was nowhere near perfect, but it was fun to watch, full of action AND emotion, and showed comic and non-comic fans that bad guys can be good. I hope a sequel is in the works, or at the very least we get to see a few of these characters again. For those of you who absolutely find it necessary to compare DC films to Marvel films, Suicide Squad is better than both Deadpool and Captain America: Civil War. I know that I’ll take a lot of heat for saying that, but fart jokes and potty-mouthed humor aren’t that funny in my book, and that’s pretty much all Deadpool was. As far as Civil War goes, it was an okay film, but it was lacking in a lot of areas.
As always, thank you for reading. If you disagree with me (and I know plenty of you do), tell me what you thought about the film in the comments below. I’ll be posting my Star Trek Beyond review in the very near future. I’ll also be asking Ten Burning Questions to my next victim in a few days.