** (out of 5)
August 5, 2016
Will Smith as DEADSHOT
Jared Leto as JOKER
Margot Robbie as HARLEY QUINN
Joel Kinnaman as COL. RICK FLAG
Viola Davis as AMANDA WALLER
Jai Courtney as CAPTAIN BOOMERANG
Jay Hernandez as EL DIABLO
Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje as KILLER CROC
Cara Delevingne as ENCHANTRESS
Karen Kukuhara as KATANA
Adam Beach as SLIPKNOT
Studio: Warner Bros.
Directed by: David Ayer
BY KEVIN CARR
Listen to Kevin’s radio review…
Before I even start with my deconstruction of the damp misfire of “Suicide Squad,” I feel it’s important to note that I was one of the few critics that actually enjoyed “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice.” It’s not that this would be a pre-requisite to have an opinion on “Suicide Squad,” but it goes to show that I’m not just piling on the DC line-up of films.
I genuinely did not like “Suicide Squad.”
Sure, the film was a gamble for DC, though it was in line with the tone of the features they’re setting up. Rather than going whimsical and fun, the way the Marvel Cinematic Universe has grown, DC is taking a distinctly darker tone, which was set with the needlessly gritty “Man of Steel” before Warner Bros. even realized they were going down this path for the entire multi-franchise.
However, a little darkness can go a long way. And darkness does not mean that something needs to be sleazy. Take, for example “Deadpool.” This guy was an anti-hero as much as anyone else. It featured some very dark and unpleasant subject matter, and it certainly wasn’t for kids. However, it was thoroughly enjoyable and wildly entertaining.
However, Warner tapped David Ayer to direct “Suicide Squad,” which seems to make sense because of the man’s successes under his belt (including “Fury” and “End of Watch”). However, everything I worried about as the production was going on – that Ayer would deliver a needlessly dour and almost nihilistic vision of this comic book world, strapped up for ghetto warfare – seems to have come true.
But beyond Ayer’s grim and unpleasant take on hyper-reality (which keeps more in line with the wholly unlikable cast of characters in “Sabotage” a couple years ago), it all starts with story. As the writer, Ayer can’t really decide what he wants the movie to be about. Is it a movie about a team reluctantly coming together? Is it about a government official who is a bigger bad guy (or bad gal in the guise of Amanda Waller, played by Viola Davis) than the actual bad guys in prison?
The answer is that it is neither of those. Instead, it’s about this rag-tag team of supervillains who are tapped to save the city from yet another ancient god-like creature forming a swirling vortex of terror over a ruined skyline. (Not only have we seen this sort of thing many times before in films like “The Avengers,” “Fantastic Four,” “Green Lantern,” “Man of Steel,” “R.I.P.D.” and even the low-budget “Chronicle,” but also already this year with “Independence Day: Resurgence” and “X-Men: Apocalypse.”)
Sure, there are some good things about this movie. Will Smith is expectedly very charming as the can’t-miss assassin Deadshot. Margot Robbie is fetching and compelling as the psychotic Harley Quinn, a fan favorite from the comic books. (And don’t get me wrong, her skimpy shirt, short-shorts and fishnet stockings don’t hurt the film either.) However, the rest of the line-up are so woefully underdeveloped or stereotypical that it’s quite painful to watch.
More over, I understand the origins of a team like the Suicide Squad for a comic book and even in the film. However, I couldn’t help but wonder why some of these characters were even there. Captain Boomerang (Jai Courtney) offers nothing to the team. Killer Croc (Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje), who was a great Batman villain in the comic, is just there to look mean and swim a little bit. Even the aforementioned Harley Quinn, while fun to watch, isn’t exactly who you’d pick in a fight against an ancient demon laying waste to the population with giant infectious black goo that turns people into zombies.
And then there’s the Joker (Jared Leto). Sure, it’s daring to bring the character back after Heath Ledger broke the mold with him in “The Dark Knight.” However, the tattoos and grill reeks of pandering to an urban audience – and its wholly out-of-sync with who the Joker is in the comic books himself. Here’s he’s just another gangster… only with green hair. Add this to the fact that all of his scenes in the film are extraneous and unnecessary to the plot. They could be completely edited out of the film, and you’d have more or less the same movie that makes as much as uneven sense as before.
In the end, “Suicide Squad” has a great set-up and some great production design. However, it fails to tell a coherent story and tries too hard to be badass, coming across as punishing rather than entertaining.
Sigh… imagine the irony if Wonder Woman is the superhero that has to swoop in and save this mega-franchise next summer.