RNC review: Suicide Squad (Spoiler-free)

Bad guys. Worse guys. Batman.

Those are the things you already know about the summer’s most anticipated film, David Ayer’s Suicide Squad. What you probably don’t know is what to really expect once the theater lights dim. No need to worry, since I won’t be talking about any spoilers in this review.

Jahshua and I have been inconsistent, but I felt compelled to don the RNC cape and share my thoughts on the latest entry in the DC Extended Universe franchise, which is under a critical eye after the disappointment of March’s Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (a film I enjoyed).

By now you have probably read, or read about, the scathing reviews of Suicide Squad, and after one of the best marketing campaigns in recent memory, you are probably wondering how it all could have gone so wrong. To clarify, I will need to start slowly.

Amanda Waller, played brilliantly by Viola Davis, is a government agent who decides to assemble Task Force X. This group of villains, some of them possessing special abilities, is the government’s response to the possibility of another threat beyond human comprehension. Keep in mind that this is set after the events of Batman v Superman.

Is Suicide Squad a good film?

Going into this movie, I needed 3 things to happen in order for me to walk away satisfied. First, I needed good performances from four of the cast members: Viola Davis (Amanda Waller), Will Smith (Deadshot), Margot Robbie (Harley Quinn) and Jared Leto (the Joker). Check.

Second, I needed this film to have humor, something the DCEU has been criticized for lacking going all the way back to Man of Steel. Check.

Third, I needed to walk away from this film and feel like I had fun for at least two-thirds of it, with some added excitement for future DC films. Check.

So going by that scale, Suicide Squad proved to be a fun time. It’s the type of mindless, summer film that you’ll find yourself quoting after leaving the theater. And I do mean mindless. The movie is filled with strong performances, a soundtrack that can be both exciting and jarring, Justice League cameos and hot ass mess of a plot that you will scratch your head about at least once.

Director David Ayer brings together a talent-heavy cast, and allows each of them to fully embrace the colorful, and at time unpredictable, personalities of their respective characters. Watching the squad interact with each other and civilians never stops being entertaining.

As far as the squad goes, Will Smith’s Deadshot provides a necessary balance that keeps the chemistry from falling apart. He is everything from action movie star, comic book antihero, and genuinely decent human being with some semblance of a soul. A deadly accurate assassin, his character is provided with enough depth to keep audiences engaged. Whether you like the film or not, this is a character you’ll want to see in future DC films, especially as it relates to his dealings with Batman.

Jay Hernandez’s El Diablo, a gangster with the ability to generate fire from his body, lends an emotional component that makes his character more than just a handy bench player. A lot of folks will be surprised that he makes such a strong impression in the film.

Jai Courtney, who apparently is hated by the Internet, works well as Captain Boomerang, an Australian bank robber whose favorite weapon of choice is all too obvious. He adds humor in small doses throughout the second and third acts, which certainly keeps things fun even when they don’t exactly make sense.

The squad member everyone is most looking forward to is Margot Robbie, as the iconic Harley Quinn. She is fantastic in this role. She pulls off seductive, insane and tough throughout the course of the film, and you can tell she’s having an absolute blast while doing so. Her backstory ties in with another character everyone is waiting to examine.

And that of course is the Joker, played by Jared Leto. I know what question is coming next. Is Jared Leto a good Joker? The answer is yes. I know the second question you’re thinking. Is he better than Heath Ledger? There isn’t enough of a sample size to judge. He succeeds at putting a new spin on one of the greatest villains of all-time. Heath Ledger played the Joker as an anarchist, while Leto portrays him as a mob boss. Sometimes it comes across as modern. Other times, it seems like an ode to classic films. He also adds sensuality to this character, which is new. He isn’t nearly as integral to the plot as advertised, but the scenes with him work for the most part, and a large part of that is due to his chemistry with Robbie. DC fanboys will be glad that their relationship comes across so well.

The highlight performance of the film is Viola Davis as Amanda Waller. She’s cold, calculated and manipulative. As the film progresses, you almost start to look at her as the main villain. The way she is able to recruit all of these bad guys to work together is sometimes just downright evil. And while her character contributes to one of my biggest issues with the film, I couldn’t get enough of her when she was on screen.

And that brings me to the part of this review people may want to brace themselves for.

This film is a mess. An unbelievably stupid mess. As was the case with Batman v Superman, wherein the theatrical cut fell victim to edits by studio execs, causing for all types of incoherent plot points, Suicide Squad at various points feels like an incomplete story. With this being a spoiler-free review, I really don’t want to give too much away. I have to say though, Warner Bros really did a great job keeping this plot under wraps, as this film goes into a direction I was not quite prepared for. I imagine it will leave more than a few audience members perplexed.

My biggest complaint of the film is Cara Delevingne’s June Moone, an archaeologist who becomes a witch known as Enchantress. I can’t say too much about what her character goes through in the film, but I will say that the way she is used here was a huge mistake. The shit is just goofy, and her involvement in the film, if you think about it, really starts to make the entire thing collapse on itself.

When this film is focused on the dynamics between the characters, it soars. When it actually attempts to tell the story of the Squad’s mission, because there is only one mission here, it stumbles. And that’s a shame considering these actors are delivering for the most part.

This is a contained film. Set in the aftermath of Batman v Superman, and over the course of one day, much of the character development is explored in the form of flashbacks. Those flashbacks sometimes occur throughout the second and third acts. With so many people in one movie, it sometimes does help the story move along, even if that story is completely stupid.

Also, I would be a jerk if I didn’t give you a heads up on the music in this film. As the characters are introduced, this feels less like an action movie and more like a music video, and all throughout the film there are several aesthetics that contribute to that vibe. For some, that is going to be a jarring experience. For others, that is going to help add to the personalities of the characters, which they already have in bulk. As the movie progresses the music choices are fine for the most part, but you get the impression that someone at Warner Bros was casually adding it into the movie in the name of adding some fun.

Overall, I think people should take a chance with this film. It’s not for everybody, and that’s certainly going to cause a mixed reaction among viewers. But I would be lying to say that this film isn’t entertaining. There are some fantastic performances along with a good amount of humor. I found myself caring about most of these characters in the end, and can only hope we get to see them in upcoming DC movies, especially the ones that have a history with Justice League members.

RNC rating: 3/5 stars.

Additional: What do Deadpool, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, Captain America: Civil War and Suicide Squad all have in common? Yes, they’re all based on comic books, but even more so the villains are all underwhelming. Somebody cast Willem Dafoe, dammit!

Heads up: there is a mid-credit scene, so you may want to hang around for that.

#TigerWoods: Margot Robbie, what up doe!

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