Admittedly, Suicide Squad boost an intriguing trailer, interesting premise, and star studded case who mostly looks like they would kick so much asses as their respective characters. Like, Viola Davis alone would be enough to lure me to watch it. Then they throw Margot Robbie and Cara Delevingne into the mix, making it a done deal. But, admittedly, BvS was such a huge letdown (despite my initial fanboy-friends-induced-hype) it made me wary of any DC movie and so I tried to lowered my expectations. And yet somehow, Suicide Squad still was underwhelming.
After the death of Superman, Amanda Waller (Viola Davis) assembled the Task Force X: a covert ops team made of disposable but extremely dangerous imprisoned super-villains. But putting criminals like Deadshot (Will Smith), Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie), El Diablo (Jay Hernandez), Captain Boomerang (Jai Courtney), Killer Croc (Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje), and Slipknot (Adam Beach) under the command of all-good-and-proper Colonel Rick Flag (Joel Kinnaman) and the watch of Katana (Karen Fukuhara) can’t be a good idea, right?
Still, when Enchantress took over the body of archeologist June Moore (Cara Delevingne) and wreck havoc in Midway City, they have no choice but to deploy the Suicide Squad.
I am a sucker for character-driven movies. Because plot could only be reinvented for so much and even the most interesting premise could get stale if its not backed by interesting characters. Which is my main gripe concerning Suicide Squad. You have a bunch of insanely unique super-villains and you let them loose to save the day. That alone promised a heck load of fun and intriguing characters dynamic… if handled right. Handled wrong, well, you’ll get a hot mess. And that’s what Suicide Squad is: an attractive-as-fuck significant other who’d gave you a good time, but ultimately is a mess who’d let you down when it matters the most. It’s basically your ex as a movie.
See, Suicide Squad’s main problem is how David Ayer can’t seem to decide what he wants. He swings violently between dramatic story and full throttle entertainment, wanting the best of both world but ended up delivering not enough fun and too many needless emotional scenes. I don’t object to drama and emotional scenes, because I understand the importance of both in a story. Without them, you run the risk of a having a movie that resembles a flat line with two-dimensional paper thin token characters. But. Must. You. Humanize. Them. So???
Yes, they have to somehow relateable and likeable, but Ayer painted them as misguided heroes who redeem themselves from their villainous nature. And I can’t seem to understand why there is a need to do so. This is supposed to be a movie about super-villains at best and anti-hero at best. I was expecting a bunch of unapologetic and morally ambiguous characters who saved the day because, at the end of the day, they got something to gain from it. Hell, even Deadpool beat up the bad guy simply to save his girlfriend and not because the world is in danger. I’d prefer characters whom I bedgrudgingly attracted to despite how much I hate them, than half-baked hero-wannabes.
So their heel-turn doesn’t sit well with me, especially because the trigger isn’t even convincing. It is a better emotional catalyst than “Martha”, but there’s not enough build up to it. First of all, there is no immediate end-of-the world threat. See, the idea of “bad guys teaming up against even worse Big Bad” is appealing. I’m not down with it, but I see the appeal. Thing is, it only works when the Big Bad is that threatening. And if a movie is only as good as it’s Big Bad, then Suicide Squad deserves an F.
Which means, their epiphany must came from their own self or at least from their shared bond. That special “baptism by fire” bond and shared experience of being prisoners. Of course I shouldn’t be surprised when they suddenly became all chummy and loyal. There are huge hints and proper dynamics between Deadshot, Harley, Boomerang, and Diablo. But Croc and Katana? Why they stick up with the bunch instead of turning tails is beyond me. Then again, they’re the most underexposed characters in the whole movie. They doesn’t even talk to each other! If my memory serves me right, you can count each of their dialogue plus the time they’re being addressed personally with your fingers.
Although to be fair, the characters who got the spotlight does shine. Will Smith’s Deadshot stole the show and I think this is the most appealing I’ve seen him since I Am Legend. One of the best thing about him, I think, is that there is no distinction between Floyd Lawton and Deadshot. They are one and the same, and that’s what makes him so appealing. Here is a guy who doesn’t hide behind his alter ego as a mercenary and own up to all the shits he does for a living, ultimately making him all the more humane. Deadshot is the most wholesome character in this movie with proper background story, proper motivation, and proper character development. The consistency of him being a bad guy with a heart whose world revolved around his daughter (even if I’m a bit peeved with said daughter) really caught my eyes. Top that with Will Smith quite impressive range of emotions. He successfully shake off the shadow that Michael Rowe casted with his prettily heartbreaking Floyd Lawton in Arrow. And that scene where he flaunted how he cut up and run? Well, that is officially my favorite scene in this whole movie.
Next to that, though, is Viola Davis’ Amanda Waller. Despite not having that much of a screen time, she stole so much attention and command the scene. Her presence is just so large it gives you goosebumps, and it’s easy to understand why all the Suicide Squad reluctantly obey her. Viola Davis is at her best as a cunning women who would do what is needed to ensure her survival and manipulate people to get there. But her Waller felt a little like echo of her iconic Annalise Keating. Still, she delivered. With cherry on top.
Just like Margot Robbie, who was probably born to be Harley Quinn. In her solo moments, you see just how deranged but dangerous she is. And when Joker is present or even mentioned, you can feel just how madly in love she is. Her relationship with Joker is one of her defining character’s trait and I understand she wouldn’t be complete without it. But whose bright idea is it to overly romanticized their otherwise abusive and manipulative relationship? It got to the point where I was squirming uncomfortably in my seat whenever their Bonnie and Clyde-ish scenes come on the screen.
Not to mention, you could actually take out the Joker’s subplot and still have the movie running smoothly. Furthermore, Jared Leto’s Joker was just too tacky. He tries to be lunatic and chaotic, but ultimately comes off as tacky and over the top. I’m not sold. At all. Maybe in a full Joker-centric movie he could convinced me otherwise. But in this movie, where he’s just a decoration, he took too much precious screen time which could have been given to Katana or Killer Croc. He’s not alone in the “underperforming character with too much screen time” club though. There’s Joel Kinnaman’s Rick Flag who in no way is charming. It’s quite possible I’m just bitter because I want the Tom Hardy version of him, but Flag had too much holier than thou attitude with not enough goody two shoes qualities. I have to agree when Deadshot called him two faced, since he is a two-faced shitty human being who barely managed to do what he’s supposed to. While Delevingne’s June Moore deserves to be more than just damsel in distress. Her counterpart Enchantress wasn’t that threatening either, and don’t get me started on Incubus. Just. Don’t.
As a movie with a handful of characters, Suicide Squad managed the feat of giving each of the main ones a fun (albeit kinda lazy) character introduction. Like, it’s mostly used for glorified cameos, but at least they could integrate those cameo nicely and not forcefully through e-mail in what’s supposed to be critical moments (HA HA HA). Then it kicked up a notch by giving teases of interesting I-hate-you-but-I-unfortunately-need-you team dynamics. The second act was also littered with hella fine fight scenes, gripping tensions, and hints of the upcoming climax. Then the third act actually come and it all fell apart. To pieces. I haven’t seen such uninspiring final fight for a while. Hell, even BvS dished out a breathtaking final fight! And to pissed me off even more, Suicide Squad actually had top notch fight scenes prior to that. It had stylish shots of each characters showcasing their specialty, pummeling everything that get in their way and actually having fun while doing that. That, ladies and gentlemen, is when Suicide Squad shines. Because at the end of the day, this is a movie about super-villains who got let loose. They’re bad guys, that’s what they do. They wreck havoc for fun. And to be really really honest, those moments are more than enough to redeem the whole movie.
For me, Suicide Squad is a ray of hope for DCEU. It’s not enough to redeem BvS and I’m still not touching Man of Steel without a tent-pole in between, but it got me hoping. For a better and more interesting DCEU who are not so obsessed with being grimdark and morose just for distinction. There’s a lot of room for improvements, but Suicide Squad delivered the amusement it promised and I enjoyed it even without fanboy-induced-hype. Especially because it had the best soundtrack since GOTG. Bottom line? I would really love to see more Deadshot, Waller, and Harley.
Director: David Ayer. Writer: David Ayer. Released on: 3 August 2016. Casts: Will Smith, Margot Robbie, Viola Davis, Cara Delevingne, Jared Leto, Jay Hernandez, Jai Courtney, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, Adam Beach, Joel Kinnaman, Karen Fukuhara.