Suicide Squad, 2016.
Directed by David Ayer.
Starring Will Smith, Jared Leto, Margot Robbie, Jai Courtney, Joel Kinnaman, Viola Davis, Cara Delevingne, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, Jay Hernandez, Adam Beach, Jim Parrack, Ben Affleck, Karen Fukuhara, Common, Ike Barinholtz and Scott Eastwood
A secret government agency recruits imprisoned supervillains to execute dangerous black ops missions in exchange for clemency.
Warning: Some spoilers in this review…
What happens when some of the world’s most dangerous super-villains come together, albeit reluctantly, to save the world? A good time at the movies, that’s what. Suicide Squad offers fans of the superhero genre something a little different as it focuses on the villains rather than the heroes with a great ensemble cast and an enjoyable, if somewhat generic, story.
The main selling point of this film is the cast, particularly Will Smith, Margot Robbie, Jay Hernandez and Viola Davis as Deadshot, Harley Quinn, El Diablo and Amanda Waller respectively. Smith’s Deadshot is at the centre of the film a little more than expected, but he delivers a good performance on the morally grey villain that is both funny and, at times, emotional. He’s one of the few characters who has an actual arc and when the emotional beats are the focus, Smith brings up his A game to deliver them.
Margot Robbie shines as Harley Quinn, bringing out every bit of the quirky and deadly villainess, though she doesn’t have quite that much to do as one might expect in the film. Robbie is mostly there for comic relief and Suicide Squad doesn’t delve quite as deeply into the complex relationship Harley has with The Joker, though that’s to be expected from such a big ensemble piece and is probably best saved for a future film, whether a Suicide Squad sequel or, better yet, Ben Affleck’s Batman film. Either way, Robbie is great as Harley and has some magnetic chemistry with Jared Leto’s Joker, who also steals several scenes. Again, these two aren’t onscreen together as much as expected, but the times they are remain some of the highlights.
Jay Hernandez, however, ends up stealing the show later in the film since he’s also one of the few characters with an actual arc and has a deep emotional hook to his backstory. By the time the climax rolls around, El Diablo has become the MVP of the Squad both emotionally and physically thanks to Hernandez’s portrayal. Viola Davis is also pitch perfect as Amanda Waller, completely owning the dark aspects of her character while Jai Courtney is a bright spot as a constant source of comedy and Joel Kinnaman is good, though not entirely memorable, as Rick Flag. Flag is the basic army man, though his relationship with Deadshot makes for an intriguing look at their characters as they’re basically counterpoints to each other, but that relationship is also not exploited to its fullest potential. Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje is also an intimidating presence as Killer Croc, but the best thing about him is the very impressive make-up on the actor.
Suicide Squad is not a perfect film, however. It takes a little while to get into since the characters don’t really share any screentime with each other throughout the first act, relying instead on Waller and Flag for the majority of that time. The pacing and editing of the first twenty or so minutes are also an issue since they quickly go through the origins of the core Squad members in a somewhat jarring manner, but after that first act hump the movie gets much better.
While Karen Fukuhara also looks great and sells the badassness of Katana, she doesn’t really have much to do in the movie and could have been given a bit more material to work with since she’s mostly just there in the background. Cara Delivingne’s Enchantress also doesn’t get to do much, turning out to be a fairly generic villain with an even more generic plan, though she does certainly know how to make Enchantress look and feel creepy.
David Ayer’s direction is competent and entertaining. In the action scenes he knows how to utilize the characters best and during those quieter, emotional moments of the film knows exactly what and who to focus on. The film is also one of the best looking films of the year thanks to Roman Vasyanov’s gorgeous cinematography. For a film that is aesthetically and thematically dark and gritty, many of the colours do pop off the screen. Much like Enchantress, though, the story itself is a bit generic and the greater stakes are never truly felt.
Despite that, Suicide Squad still delivers an entertaining film that is a lot of fun to watch with a great ensemble cast. Some characters could have been given a bit more prominence, but the ones who received focus conveyed the emotional core of the story and what it means to be a villain. Smith, Robbie and especially Hernandez killed it in their roles and Ayer delivered one of the best, if slightly flawed, films to the ever-expanding superhero genre.
Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★ ★ ★ ★ / Movie: ★ ★ ★ ★