Saturday, August 6, 2016

Movie Review: "Suicide Squad"

It was a bit of a surprise when DC and Warner Bros. announced a Suicide Squad movie a few years back.  While the team made up of super villains forced into doing good by the US government has long been a fan favorite, it was an odd choice for the third movie in the shared DC universe of movies following Man of Steel and Batman v Superman.  I still personally feel that way after seeing Suicide Squad.  While the movie is leagues better than most critics want you to believe it is, it's also not as good as most fans were wanting it to be either.  Instead, Suicide Squad is a flawed, yet occasionally fun comic book movie that will appease some, but not all.

The movie opens with a series of vignettes setting up the primary members of the Suicide Squad:  Will Smith's Deadshot, Margot Robbie's Harley Quinn, Joel Kinnaman's Rick Flagg, Jai Courtney's Captain Boomerang, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje's Killer Croc, and Jay Hernandez's Diablo.  They are all brought together by a morally dubious US agent by the name of Amanda Waller (played exceptionally by Viola Davis), to go into the fictional metropolis of Midway City to stop a supernatural threat that threatens the entire world.  Once the Suicide Squad sets down in Midway City, the movie really starts to take off with wall-to-wall action, but the first forty-five minutes of set up really keeps the movie ever from gaining much momentum upfront.  On top of that, as a DC Comics fanboy, I found many of the portrayals of the characters lacking.

While it is fun to see the Joker's girlfriend, Harley Quinn, on the bigscreen for the first time, I don't think writer/director David Ayer handled her well.  Personally, I feel Margot Robbie was well cast, but she lacked the right material to make Harley the Harley from the comic books.  The way Harley is written in this movie is a little too flirtatious for my liking, missing that naive quality that makes her so irresistibly entertaining in the comics.  Then there is the bigger issue of the portrayal of Harley's puddin', Mr. J himself, the Joker.

Actor Jared Leto and Ayer seemed to want to turn the Joker more into a gangsta rather than a gangster, and I'm not really sure I like that angle, with the metal teeth just annoying me as a fanboy.  Of course I could live with the appearance of the character if he acted like the comic book Joker for most of the movie, but the way the character is portrayed, he rarely does.  He often comes across serious in most of his scenes, which is in stark contrast to every other Joker portrayal ever.  Honestly, Jared Leto was always going to have a tough row to hoe with him being the first actor to follow Heath Ledger in the role, and unfortunately, while they tried to differentiate Leto's Joker from Heath's Joker, in the end, they might have tried too much.  Now while I took issue with some of the characterizations in this movie, there were some that were spot on.

Viola Davis is absolutely perfect as Amanda Waller, getting the authoritative swagger of the character down pat.  Then there's Will Smith as Deadshot, who is essentially being Will Smith as a hitman for hire, but his Deadshot works in areas where some of the other characters don't by injecting appropriate doses of humor and empathy into the role.  And I can't go on without mentioning Karen Fukuhara as Katana, the sword-wielding ninja that comes in to protect Waller's liaison, Rick Flagg, from being turned on by the squad.  Katana is not handled with as much attention as I wish she would have been, but Fukuhara makes the most of her limited screentime and really nails the silent, but deadly demeanor of the character.  As well, while Ben Affleck is literally only in about two to three minutes of the whole movie, he continues to make a good impression as Batman.  Sprinkle on top some action that is fun to watch unfold, and you have a Summer blockbuster that is more entertaining than it's not.

All in all, Suicide Squad is a movie that is enjoyable enough to warrant seeing if you're a fanboy, but you'll still probably come away with a few quibbles of your own.  I am still baffled as to why DC isn't choosing to be like Marvel and be more faithful to the comic books with most of their characters, but Suicide Squad does manage to get right more than it gets wrong.  As far as the three movies currently in the DC Extended Universe, I'd have to say Suicide Squad is the weakest of the three, weaker than both Man of Steel and Batman v Superman, which I still personally feel is the best of the flawed bunch.

I give Suicide Squad a 6 out of 10!