From the time it was first announced, Suicide Squad promised to bring something different not only to the philosophically heavy and dark DCEU, but something that is a reversal of the comic book genre entirely. In a landscape where movie universes that have focused on hero team-ups, Suicide Squad instead hangs on the chemistry between super-villains.
Written and directed by David Ayer, who is known for creating some grimy worlds with equally grimy people, Suicide Squad embraces its comic book roots whole-heartedly – for better and for worse. Ayer's cast led by Will Smith, Margot Robbie, and Viola Davis, is absolutely fantastic and each actor nails the essences of their characters.
As Deadshot, Smith essentially becomes the de facto leader of the Squad, and along with Robbie's Harley Quinn, his character gets a lot of back story and character depth. Davis is perfect as Amanda Waller, a ruthless government agent and the person responsible for assembling the team.
The squad's mission is filled with exciting action and thoroughly enjoyable interactions between its team members. Suicide Squad definitely offers a lot of comedy and wit and is very entertaining in the moment. There is also a multitude of fan service sprinkled throughout, including multiple Batman cameos with Ben Affleck once again donning the cape and cowl. This makes Suicide Squad a good action film with a fun group of characters, but it unfortunately offers little else.
Amanda Waller is no doubt the best antagonist of this film which is saying something considering Jared Leto's Joker is also introduced. Unfortunately, the Joker doesn't get enough screen time to warrant a comparison with other versions of the character.
It's strange to say that a film full of villains ultimately suffers because its main villain and their plot to (surprise) destroy the world is underwhelming, but it's true. Worse, the main villain undermines the tone of the film and quite frankly, the tone that the DC Expanded Universe has established. Having a supernatural threat this early in a universe that takes a more grounded approach to comic book lore makes little sense.
Suicide Squad spends a good 20-30 minutes setting up the grisly prison of Belle Reve, a brutal and punishing facility where the members of the squad have been serving their multiple life sentences. While the brutality is heightened, Belle Reve feels very much like a place that could exist in the real world. However, as soon as the main threat is unveiled, the film loses its sense of direction, and the third act feels very tacked on and all too familiar considering the climaxes of other comic book movies. Considering how enjoyable the characters are, the stakes don't have to be of that magnitude for the film to pay off.
The flow of the movie in general is very sporadic and at points, repetitive. The squad members are introduced through exposition rather quickly in a manner that feels more like a trailer than a film, each accompanied with their own pop music track and a graphic-heavy dossier. While there is no doubt the soundtrack will sell, the music cues and dossiers are jarring to the mood of the film.
In addition, Suicide Squad fits strangely in the connected universe that Warner Bros. is creating. While the characters are all a part of the same world, the greater overall narrative really isn't affected too much, which makes Suicide Squad non-essential viewing as far as the DCEU is concerned. The film does deliver on its promise of being an alternative to other comic book movie fare. Its more adult subject matter when it comes to its characters sets it apart, but the film ultimately falls back on well-worn tropes of the genre. While it's an entertaining escape with great characters, the tonal issues and plot inconsistencies are too much for Suicide Squad's stellar cast to overcome.Our Rating: Note