SUICIDE SQUAD (2016)

Review by Derrick Carter

Running Time: 2 hours 3 minutes

MPAA Rating: PG-13 for Sequences of Violence and Action throughout, Disturbing Behavior, Suggestive Content and Language

SuicideSquad poster

Directed by: David Ayer

Written by: David Ayer

(based on the SUICIDE SQUAD comics by John Ostrander)

Starring: Will Smith, Jared Leto, Margot Robbie, Joel Kinnaman, Viola Davis, Jai Courtney, Jay Hernandez, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, Cara Delevingne, Karen Fukuhara, Adam Beach, Ike Barinholtz, Scott Eastwood & Ben Affleck

SUICIDE SQUAD has been one of my most anticipated films of 2016. It should be mentioned that I wasn’t exactly sold on Jared Leto’s Joker and strongly disliked BATMAN v SUPERMAN. Still, there was something about this supervillain team-up film that had me stoked! The marketing was great and showcased crazy energy that would be essential for a movie like this. Though generally negative reviews have gotten this third DC Extended Cinematic Universe entry rated lower than BATMAN v SUPERMAN on Rotten Tomatoes, I had a blast watching SUICIDE SQUAD. The film isn’t free of flaws (all of which I’ll discuss in a moment), but it also has a lot of things to like! So far, this is my favorite installment of the new DC Cinematic Universe.

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In response to the world’s growing superhuman phenomenon, government operative Amanda Waller (Viola Davis) assembles a team of very bad people who she believes can do some good. This secret task force, dubbed the Suicide Squad, is led by hard-headed veteran Rick Flagg (Joel Kinnaman) with sword-wielding Katana (Karen Fukuhara) at his side. Under Flagg’s command are: psycho-clown Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie), sharp-shooter Deadshot (Will Smith), human torch El Diablo (Jay Hernandez), drunken bloke Captain Boomerang (Jai Courtney), human-reptile Killer Croc (Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje) and grappling expert Slipknot (Adam Beach). This ragtag team of supervillains must work together if they wish to save the world from the evil Enchantress (Cara Delevingne).

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The main quality that sets SUICIDE SQUAD apart from tons of other superhero films is that these protagonists are out-and-out supervillains. These characters committed horrible crimes in their past and don’t necessarily feel bad about any of the evil things they’ve done. Instead of saving the day for the right reasons and out of the goodness of their hearts, these bad guys wish to regain their freedom and aren’t above contemplating plenty of ways to murder Flagg and escape. Instead of being a story of good vs. evil, SUICIDE SQUAD is all about bad vs. worse.

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As far as the team members go, there are definite stand-outs, cool supporting characters and disappointingly glorified cameos. The best performances come from Margot Robbie as fan favorite Harley Quinn and Will Smith as Deadshot. Both of these Batman villains have never been featured in a live-action blockbuster before and they make a grand big-screen entrance here. Margot Robbie remarkably encapsulates every mannerism that Harley Quinn has in the comics and cartoons, while also doing a perfect voice for the character. Will Smith actually gains a bit of sympathy as Deadshot by playing the assassin as a loving father who happens to earn money from heartlessly executing people.

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Jay Hernandez delivers unexpected humanity as former gangster turned peaceful pyro El Diablo. This character was given more development than the other supporting characters thanks to a well-executed tragic backstory. El Diablo’s reluctance to engage in violence makes him an interesting character to watch. Meanwhile, Jai Courtney brings his best performance yet (not exactly high praise) as comical Captain Boomerang. This character got the biggest laughs out of me, even more than Harley Quinn. Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje’s Killer Croc doesn’t get much to do aside from looking cool in the background. Meanwhile, Viola Davis is solid as amoral Amanda Waller and Joel Kinnaman is likable enough as Rick Flagg.

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Though it’s a lot of fun and very entertaining, SUICIDE SQUAD has major problems in two big areas: the villain and the editing. Concerning the former, Enchantress is cool to look at. The constant special effects surrounding her, the mindless drones she controls, and the magical havoc are all very neat to the eyes. However, her motivation is nothing more than the typical world domination that we’ve already seen plenty of times from other supervillains, especially in the past couple of years (e.g. Ultron, Dr. Doom, and Apocalypse). In the end, she’s a generic villain with an awesome look.

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As for the sloppy editing, that’s a direct result of Warner Brothers’ desperation after BATMAN v SUPERMAN slightly underperformed at the box office. In an effort to combat the possibility of SUICIDE SQUAD flopping and disappointing more people, multiple cuts of this movie were made and then glued together in the messy theatrical version. This isn’t annoying to a degree where the movie is outright terrible or bad, but it’s definitely noticeable. For instance, Viola Davis gets five seconds of voice-over narration in the prologue and never receives any more throughout the entire running time. In a far more egregious decision, every Joker scene seems butchered or totally excised from the film. I still can’t tell you what I honestly thought of Jared Leto’s new take on the clown prince of crime, because I’ve less than five minutes of screen time from him.

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Even with its undeniable problems taken into consideration, SUICIDE SQUAD remains a thoroughly enjoyable summer movie filled with energy, cool visuals and humor that works. It’s a crazy comic book flick that definitely could (and should) have been better, but functions on being fun and entertaining! I’ll take that over dull, dreary and bloated any day of the week!

Grade: B

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