This film makes one thing very clear: there is a reason why Marvel made standalone movies for each of their characters before they put them together. Not only does it make the characters relatable to the audience, but it prevents having to reduce the backstory of each character to a throwaway line. That is the problem with “Suicide Squad.” It’s a fairly pedestrian superhero movie that is trying to introduce too much in one film, and create character beats that simply aren’t earned. It just doesn’t work.
It feels good to be bad…Assemble a team of the world’s most dangerous, incarcerated Super Villains, provide them with the most powerful arsenal at the government’s disposal, and send them off on a mission to defeat an enigmatic, insuperable entity. U.S. intelligence officer Amanda Waller has determined only a secretly convened group of disparate, despicable individuals with next to nothing to lose will do. However, once they realize they weren’t picked to succeed but chosen for their patent culpability when they inevitably fail, will the Suicide Squad resolve to die trying, or decide it’s every man for himself? (Synopsis by Warner Bros.)
The DC Universe was (and arguably is) in serious distress after the disastrous response to “Batman v Superman.” It doesn’t appear that DC learned any lessons on how to structure a film from that mistake. Fans of the comic can complain all they want about the supposed “unfair” treatment of the DC Universe movies, but they simply aren’t good enough. Much of “Suicide Squad” feels like an attempt to catch up to those Marvel film, with surprise character appearances, a throwback soundtrack that definitely isn’t rip off of “Guardians of the Galaxy,” and painful attempts at banter. A fun drinking game: take a drink every time a member of the Suicide Squad reminds you they are the “bad guys.”
There are still some highlights. You will definitely exit the theater wanting to watch more of Jared Leto as the Joker and Margot Robbie as Harley Quinn. Both Leto and Robbie are outstanding casting decisions, and they often manage to save the script from itself. Will Smith is serviceable as Deadshot-—although it will be questionable if Warner Bros. can meet his salary requirements and star power going forward. Then there are…the other guys. Look, none of the other characters are particularly memorable or exciting. They exist for the main players to bounce one-liners off of, and to attempt to wring emotions out of the listless script. However, very few of these one-liners work, because most of this movie feels like an afterthought of the writing process. “We’ve written this great action shot and started filming it… wait, we need the second-tier character to quip here. Uh… give Killer Croc a line!”
Even worse, most of the character introductions literally involve the character strolling on screen with a voiceover of “This is Generic Badass X! They are a ninja!” Thirty minutes later, you get a short sequence that’s supposed to explain who this character is and why you should care. Except, at that point, you don’t. Nothing about this movie makes you care at all what happens, and that’s unfortunate, because there is real potential in the unique premise. Instead we get trope and bad quips and worse backstories. We all wanted “Suicide Squad” to be really good. But it just isn’t.
DC has two more shots left at getting this right before the wheels fully come off: “Justice League” (which has completely unnecessary and repetitive tie-ins here) and the next Batman film. There is much to fix to get back to the Nolan era of watchable films. It is becoming more and more obvious that the masterminds behind the DC Extended Universe films don’t have a clue about how to make this work. That’s too bad, because this is the height of the comic book movie era—-they likely won’t get another shot at making these type of non-traditional hero films.
“See It/ Rent It/ Skip It”: Rent it. It’ll be easier to play the “we’re the bad guys!” drinking game from your couch.
TWO STARS out of four.
Directed By: David Ayer
Rated PG-13 for sequences of violence and action throughout, disturbing behavior, suggestive content and language.
Runtime: 2 hrs. and 3 mins.