Suicide Squad (2016) Written and Directed by: David Ayer Rating: PG-13
Studio: Warner Bros Runtime: 2 hrs 2 mins
So what is the Suicide Squad, and who’s in it? It’s a group of the worst criminals, human or meta-human, to be caught and imprisoned. They are…compelled to work for the government under the designation’ Task Force X’ and do black ops missions. If they die, oh well. Hence the nickname of Suicide Squad. They are controlled by Amanda Waller, played by the incomparable Viola Davis, and Col. Rick Flag, played by the gifted Joel Kinnaman. I like both of them in their respective roles, but this movie only gives you a small taste of what the characters are really capable of. Hopefully, they both show up again in the DC films.
It took me four years to watch this movie. I only did so because I’m reviewing all the recent films in the DCEU. What kept me away? Will Smith. He’s hit or miss, mostly misses, for me if I like his characters. He plays the role of Deadshot, an expert marksman for hire. If it was just that, I might have, but then there is Jared Leto. I got an impression from the film trailers, and it didn’t change after seeing the film. I know the character of the Joker and have seen him portrayed differently over the years. Suicide Squad Joker is a gangster/mobster, trashy hot mess with a culturally appropriated wardrobe. The Joker is not in the squad. While you can’t talk about Harley Quinn’s origins without mentioning him, his character could have had less of a position in this movie.
Dr. Harleen Quinzel/Harley Quinn, played by Margot Robbie, wasn’t always a coo-for-Coco Puffs, violent relishing member of society. Her story has changed a few times since she appeared in the comics in 1993. Still, she’s always, sadly, relatable more than other villains or heroes. She is smart, talented, and falls for a manipulative, violent, and abusive person. That gets her electroshock “therapy” from the Joker, endures mental abuse and brainwashing, and falls into toxic chemicals for him. The substances are what give her the white complexion, which doesn’t look good in live-action on her. I’m telling you about the character when only a sliver of it makes it into this film. You get an idea of how she got this way, but nothing to truly counter that with the villain she actually is. Taking such a layered character and presenting her as she is in this film sends a dangerous message to viewers. If someone down the cinematic road fleshes her character out I hope it’s not under the lens of a hero.
Rounding out the squad is Killer Croc, Diablo, Captain Boomerang, and June Moone/Enchantress. Diablo and June are the only ones where the film attempts to flesh out some backstory. That’s probably only so it can move the story along, or it wouldn’t have happened. The rest are basically cannon fodder. Honestly, the Enchantress should have had a more significant role where her history was brought out more. More than the writer’s surface scratching did as justification for the weak plot and character development overall.
Suicide Squad tries to be dim and gritty but misses the mark even amongst its attempts at violence and bullets flying everywhere. Should this be on your watch list? No. It adds nothing of consequence to the other DC films. And, it’s an insult to even the bad guys it attempts to use.
-a pen lady