When it comes to DC’s extended universe on screen, critics have showed no mercy in tearing apart each entry to the film franchise so far. But while Man of Steel and Batman v Superman have divided audiences and have gained criticism for some valid reasons, it has never been more apparent that there is somewhat of a bias against DC films than the reaction Suicide Squad has received from critics. The reviews have been unnecessarily harsh with some critics even going as far as comparing the film to both Fantstic four and Green Lantern. It’s been referred to as a dumpster fire, and a complete mess of a film. But despite the increasing displeasure with the film from the reviews coming in, average moviegoers have responded positive to it.
There is a clear reduction of truth at play as it seems some of the harsher critics are more focused on being as brutal as possible for clickbait rather than reviewing the movie for what it is. There is also the issue of reviewers hoping that Suicide Squad would make up for their disappointment in Batman v Superman, which is an unreasonable thing to look for in a film geared towards being dumb fun. So there’s a huge difference between what certain people wanted from the film compared to what the film wanted to be. But regardless of the reasoning behind Suicide Squad gaining ridiculously negative reviews, the film knew what it wanted to be. This review is a look at if it was able to execute being the movie it set out to be effectively. So without any outside influences on me to trash the film simply because it’s not a Marvel film, or because it didn’t make up for another film, or because being extremely brutal while criticizing it is currently popular, here is my truly unbiased review of Suicide Squad.
Suicide Squad set out to be an action movie geared towards dumb fun. And for the most part, it delivers. While the story itself is very basic, it serves its purpose of giving the team an “Escape From New York” vibe. The mission is simple. Go in, complete their targeted objective, and make it out alive. It’s nothing worth investing a lot of thought in to, but it works well for the film. The simple plot allows the team to focus more on action than storytelling, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t any storytelling at all. In fact, there are two different stories going on simultaneously throughout the film that intertwine with each other at certain points.
The team is sent in for an extraction mission while The Joker tries to help Harley Quinn escape in order to reunite with her. The storyline between Harley and The Joker adds unpredictability to what can be seen as a straight forward story. It also adds a love story to the film without it ever feeling like it was forced in to the narrative. But for the most part, The Joker’s storyline compliments the main story rather than truly influences it. If The Joker were to be completely removed from the film, the extraction mission would still hold up as entertaining on its own. The love story between The Joker and Harley Quinn simply adds more layers to Harley than serving a purpose within the film’s story. But despite the fact that it wasn’t truly needed, it adds enough to the story to justify its inclusion.
The Joker/Harley storyline is not a huge part of the film, but it helps to break up the formula it’s following from time to time to inject a little madness in to the film. So it’s inclusion is not needed as far as the main storyline is concerned, but it’s well executed enough to add on to the enjoyment of the film while taking nothing away from the main plot. There’s enough room for it in the film, and it works extremely well.
But the film having a simple main plot is doesn’t mean it has nothing interesting to offer. The film takes place after Batman v Superman, and makes mention of the events that took place in the film perfectly. It successfully builds on the DCEU by not only showing how the world was affected by the death of Superman, the film exists as the aftermath of it. The Suicide Squad is formed as a direct result of the need of a group of individuals to take his place if the next visitor to earth doesn’t share his same views of the planet. And with the rise of new Metahumans, there’s a fear of things getting out of hand in the future. So before the chaos and jokes, there is enough world building within the film to setup how the DC extended universe is all connected.
The individual members of the team are fleshed out well for the very little time given to their backstories. Harley and Deadshot in particular were given a lot of focus when it comes to their past and how it affects their present. The strange relationship between The Joker and Harley is explored throughout the film. Despite how how his comic book counterpart treats Harley, he actually loves her in the film. There is a devotion between the two that shows in both the flashbacks and present day story, but there are still minor hints of The Joker being manipulative and controlling of her. Speaking of The Joker, his character served more as a part of Harley’s story than an individual character. He doesn’t have a fleshed out background of his own. You can’t have Harley Quinn without mention of The Joker, so he simply serves the purpose of her character development throughout the film.
Both Deadshot and El Diablo are given great backgrounds and character development. Deadshot has a daughter that he is trying his best to maintain a relationship with, and El Diablo is tormented by the mistakes of his past. Both men grow during the the mission, and become better people for it. This adds on to the enjoyment of the characters as they’re fleshed out to be more than just murderers. A few other members are given backstories, but they pale in comparison to the development and humanizing of Harley, Deadshot, and El Diablo.
Killer Croc was missing the sympathy written for most characters in his situation. Most disfigured characters, or characters that come off as monsters, are usually written to reveal themselves as more than what they’ve been labelled. But instead of going the Elephant Man route, Croc seems perfectly fine with how he is and how he looks. I found it refreshing to see the character comfortable in his own skin despite it being a little rough. There’s enough backstory to get the idea that he’s a product of how he was treated, but the character himself never seems like he’s begging for pity. Not all of the characters received a decent setup before being introduced, But they made the best out of the time they had on screen. And with such a huge cast, it’s understandable that the film couldn’t focus in depth on everyone.
The performances are incredible in Suicide Squad. Both Will Smith and Margot Robbie stole every scene they were in. Smith in particular was able to lose himself in the role of Deadshot, which is something difficult to do for such a big name actor. And Robbie delivered the perfect cinematic version of Harley Quinn as she embodied the character. But the biggest surprise in the film is Jai Courtney as he delivered the best performance of his film career as Captain Boomerang. He effortlessly delivers a great performance in the role. Viola Davis was incredible as always, and it seemed like the entire cast stepped it up for the film. But unfortunately, Jared Leto’s performance as The Joker was too small and too spread out to actually give an honest opinion on it. But I’ll talk more about that in a moment.
The action sequences were fun for what they were, especially a scene with Deadshot in which he shows off how capable he is of handing himself in the middle of the city. Harley Quinn was great as well, and even had a scene to herself to shine. It seems like each member of the team was given either a great moment to shine on their own, or something interesting during one of their many skirmishes within the city. And with amazing cinematography, a wicked soundtrack, and witty dialog, the movie easily remains entertaining from beginning, to end as they fight their way through the city. But the best scene in the film is when the action dies down for a moment in a bar, and the dialog between the squad is on full display.
Suicide Squad is far from perfect. It has a few things that definitely hold it back it back from being so. Jared Leto’s performance as The Joker being drastically cut is one of them. While the film flows well without the additional footage, it’s obvious that his performance was cut in order to make the love story with Harley and The Joker seem less abusive as it is in the comic book. Evidence of this exist as cut footage of The Joker slapping Harley can be found online. And while I don’t condone violence against women by any means, and I understand that a lot of the scenes were cut for time and to avoid the controversy of how he actually treats her, the performance left after the cut isn’t very interesting. And that’s a shame considering how much potential he shows in the little time he’s allowed to have in the film.
Another issue with the film is that a lot of the jokes fall flat on delivery. Part of it is due to most of the ones that should land being overexposed in the trailers and TV spots while the rest of the comedy feels like the film is trying too hard. There are still a couple of laughs in the film, but the comedy feels too safe and a lot of it bombs horribly. Fortunately for the film, the action and character development is enough to carry it through the awkwardness of silence from the audience when a one liner is dropped and misses the mark.
The biggest issue with the film is the villain. Enchantress starts off as an interesting character that adds a bit of horror to the film, but she evolves from the demonic version of the character to one that closely resembles the comic book version. The problem with this is that Cara Delevingne makes a few interesting choices afterwards as an actress. She performs a constant movement of her body that comes off as if she’s attempting her best imitation of Aaliyah in Queen of the Damned. That, along with a heavily modified voice and awful performance, makes the final battle in the end seem like utter nonsense. Delevingne is hands down the worst performance in the film, and is borderline cringe worthy at times. Suicide Squad suffers the most from having a weak villain that is portrayed as borderline goofy at times.
Suicide Squad is a movie that had the potential to be great, but the minor issues that plague the film keeps it from reaching that full potential. But not great doesn’t mean bad, it means it’s slightly not on the level that it was capable of. Suicide Squad is a solid B movie, and I think that was what it was shooting for all along. It’s not complicated with its storytelling, and it doesn’t always take itself seriously. It continues the DCEU to the next level, and sets up a group of villains with backstories for future films. Just like Killer Croc, it knows what it is and is comfortable with it. So if you’re looking for a fun film that also has a lot of heart as well as action, then Suicide Squad is perfect for you. But if you’re searching for it to be more than what it wanted to be, then you’re going to disappoint yourself.