Suicide Squad 2016
Like with any recent DC live action movie release these days there’s a lot more to it than just “Did I like it?” or “Did I not like it?” It seems like it started a little bit with Manof Steel and escalated greatly with Batman vs Superman and once again there’s this great divide between a very low critical consensus and a record breaking box office. Who’s right? Who’s wrong? Does it really even matter anymore as long as the money is flowing and nothing’s going to stop this DC train from moving along trying to catch up to the Marvel money train chugging a few billion dollars ahead. Obviously, I’m a superhero movie fan, you don’t sit through over 300 superhero movies without either being a fan, becoming a fan, or quitting about 100 movies ago. My expectations for Suicide Squad were very similar to the animated Assault on Arkham, and what I got wasn’t a far cry from it. The characters were fun, it was fast paced, sure there were some flaws with the story but at the end of the day, my wife and I had a great morning at the movies. It would just be nice if there was a little bit more cohesion so that everyone else had fun too.
The film starts off at a pretty brisk pace, introducing us to the main villains in a very Guy Richie style, with some stylish cuts, graphical overlays, and pop music blaring in the background. The songs are fun, catchy, could be distracting, but they give a nice sense of the characters. Except for Slipknot which is disappointing since that was such an obvious tell that he would be the first (and pretty much only one) to die. It wouldn’t have been much to at least give him an introduction in the same way that the other characters did so there was at least a little bit of a surprise when he became the example and showed the audience and the other members of the squad that the cranial explosives did indeed work. But that’s still a minor point within the overall movie.
What did work the most were the characters. And even though this is an ensemble cast, the real focus comes down to three main characters: Will Smith’s Deadshot, Margot Robbie’s Harley Quinn, and Viola Davis’s Amanda Waller. Everyone else gets a moment here or there, but as far as the characters who you really get a feel for, and have some sort of arc, it comes down to those three. And luckily, those three really killed it in this film. Harley Quinn can be a problematic character, and there is still a sense of overall misogyny as characters frequently referred to her sexual attractiveness trapped with a crazy head and her unflagging devotion to a Joker who isn’t exactly the best boyfriend. Though there are at least moments within the film where Joker shows that he’s not entirely uncaring for her, since he does rescue her from the vat of chemicals that he requested her to jump in, and broke her out of prison. It’s still not the best example of a healthy relationship.
Deadshot was always going to be the most sympathetic character, and Will Smith does a great job as he always does. It’s worth noting that he does actually get top billing in this film, which means that in the past ten years, there have only been 4 comic book films that had a Black actor in that top spot, and Will Smith has been that actor for 3 of those 4 films. Deadshot has the right amount of badassness and heart with his relationship to his young daughter. He plays the role well, with the right combination of well-deserved cockiness, sympathy, and empathy. Harley was also played quite well with the right mix of craziness and tenacity with the fighting ability to back up being chosen for the squad in the first place. Even though it doesn’t exactly seem to be quite in line with the other characters’ abilities and her place on the team seems more likely that she was chosen because of her popularity with comic book fans rather than any reason that Amanda Waller might have actually gone with.
What doesn’t quite go right with this film is the overall plot, especially the villain. It’s an early turn where we find out that the Enchantress isn’t actually a member of the team, but the actual big bad that the other little bads have to fight. She happens to break her brother free who becomes this mini-Balrog with tentacle powers that can rip anyone to shreds in an instant, except for our team once they finally meet up in the climax, and gets blown up with a supposedly massive bomb that only creates about a ten to twenty foot hole in the ground. Meanwhile, the teleporting, grungy, sinister looking Enchantress gets a magical makeover to look like a CGI-enhanced child-like Empress from the Neverending Story. There was just something about her during all of the climactic scenes that never looked quite right. Plus, she seemed to have just spent about three days creating this CGI cloud that doesn’t do anything until the squad almost reaches her, though there is at least the minimal explanation that she didn’t have her targets until she acquires Waller herself and gets the targets she needs right from her head.
But the real villain right from the start is really Waller herself, and Viola David does a tremendous job at showing just how manipulative she can be from start to finish. From getting her Task Force X approved in the first place, to when she coldly kills the rest of her team just before her rescue just because none of them were cleared to even know about the existence of Task Force X. She even gets to casually toss out a line to Bruce Wayne to let him know that she knows about the costume that he dons every night. From start to finish, there is a lot to enjoy with this movie, and this is coming from someone whose entire experience with the Suicide Squad comes from the animated Assault on Arkham from just a couple years back. And while I haven’t said much about the rest of the team, even though they’re not given a whole lot to do, Diablo, Killer Croc, Katana, and Captain Boomerang are all great with what they’re given. Even though director David Ayer has said that he approves and owns up to the final cut of this film, I do think that a better version of this film could be made with the available footage, but for now I’m happy with what I’ve been given. Until next time, this has been Bubbawheat for Flights, Tights, and Movie Nights.