After the DC Universe stumbled out of the gate with Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, can they get up to speed using a different approach with the super villain team-up Suicide Squad?
Taking place after the events of Batman v Superman, Suicide Squad starts with intelligence officer, Amanda Waller (Viola Davis) making a contingency plan for another meta-human confrontation. She decides on bringing together a host of villains from around the DC Universe to serve as a sort of black ops squad, called Task Force X. This group would be run covertly and any dissenters would be killed, giving the government a perfect way to deal with any meta-human with complete anonymity.
The Suicide Squad consists of Waller surrogate Rick Flag (Joel Kinnaman), who leads super villains Deadshot (Will Smith), Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie), Captain Boomerang (Jai Courtney), Killer Croc (Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje), El Diablo (Jay Hernandez), Katana (Karen Fukuhara), Slipknot (Adam Beach), and Enchantress (Cara Delevingne).
Out of all these villains, Enchantress is the most powerful. Enchantress is an ancient sorceress who can possess archaeologist, June Moone, when she utters the sorceress’ name. As Enchantress, June’s power is god-like, but her only weakness is her mummified heart. Waller managed to obtain Enchantress’ heart and uses it to control her. However, things go awry when Enchantress takes full control of June and desires to destroy the world’s technology. This causes Waller to activate the rest of Task Force X to bring Enchantress down.
This movie has a few great performances. Viola Davis oozes power and is absolutely menacing as Amanda Waller. Will Smith has a different take on Deadshot, but he owns the role well enough to shake the concerns I had when he was cast. Margot Robbie is great as Harley Quinn and makes psychosis seem fun. The Joker is portrayed by Jared Leto and he decided to take a more psychotic route with the character. Leto does a decent job, but fails to put his interpretation in the company of Jack Nicholson and Heath Ledger. There are also cameos by Batman (Ben Affleck) and a suited up Flash (Ezra Miller) who apprehend a few of the squad members.
Aside from these performances, this movie feels rushed and one area you can really see this is the character development. At the start of the movie, we are given rap sheets for each of the Squad’s members. Deadshot, Harley, and Enchantress are given the longest backstory vignettes, while the rest of the squad members are only briefly gone over. As such, these three characters are the most fleshed out and the movie revolves around them. The other squad members seem to be ancillary and underdeveloped. For example, midway through the movie Slipknot and Katana are introduced, and their backstories’ are only a line or two long. It is a weird choice by director David Ayer to do a team up movie, but heavily focus on two members instead of giving all the members equal development.
One cannot watch Suicide Squad and not compare it to Marvel and James Gunn’s Guardians of the Galaxy, since both movies center around a group of misfits coming together for the greater good. Guardians was able to create an excellent tonal balance between goofy and serious. However, Suicide Squad can’t decide whether it wants to be serious, psychotic, goofy, or a combination of all three. You can even compare both soundtracks. Guardians’ was put together very well and the songs were integrated into the movie appropriately. Even though the Suicide Squad soundtrack is great on paper, it seems like someone was randomly selecting each song’s placement in the film. This lack of musical integration is extremely confusing since the trailers for the movie were harmoniously set to Bohemian Rhapsody and Ballroom Blitz.
Overall, Suicide Squad feels like it is a member of Arkham Asylum, it is disjointed and underdeveloped. While the performances from Margot Robbie, Viola Davis, and Will Smith are great, they are not enough to save the rest of this bipolar experience. It is concerning that DC and Warner Bros. do not seem to have their Universe’s identity down yet even though they have many movies slated for production.