After the disaster that was Batman v Superman (BvS), my hopes for the quality of the DCEU to rival Marvel’s universe were dead. BvS was supposed to win back the viewers that didn’t care for Man of Steel, yet somehow made everything worse. Because of my validated pessimism, I didn’t even see Suicide Squad in theaters, instead buying it when there was a promotion that included the theatrical and extended editions together on iTunes.
The plot revolves around a government operative, Amanda Waller, forming a team of imprisoned villains in order to force them to undergo dangerous missions. These include sharpshooter Deadshot, the Joker’s girlfriend Harley Quinn, crocodile-man Killer Croc, Australian man Captain Boomerang, firestarter El Diablo, climber Slipknot, and hula-dancing witch Enchantress. Volunteers Rick Flagg and Katana are also on the team to keep the villains in line.
Aside from the Joker and a cameo from Batman, a lot of the characters in Suicide Squad would only be known to audiences who regularly watched DC TV shows or read the comics. As a longtime fan of the DC Animated Universe from the 1990s to the 2000s, I already knew all of the major characters, especially as the DCAU introduced Harley Quinn. After 20 years of wanting to see Harley Quinn I was thrilled that she was finally in a live-action film in a way that did justice to her character, but I wish they had gone with the more classic design for her costume.
Surprisingly a lot of the other actors did very well in their roles. Will Smith brought his ever-present charm to Deadshot’s role, and Viola Davis was intimidating as Amanda Waller should be (although I still wish C.C.H. Pounder had been cast instead due to her portrayal as Waller on the Justice League TV series).
The character of Diablo and Jay Hernandez’s portrayal was a pleasant surprise and, to me, was the unsung hero of the Squad. There are at least two instances where he saves the entire Squad and his backstory and the reveal of his powers are both well done.
For the first time, however, there was a Joker that I didn’t care for, and with Jared Leto’s performance I got the impression that he and the writers were just throwing every weird thing that they could at the wall to see what would stick. The extended edition adds more scenes between him and Harley Quinn, but his character specifically didn’t grab me. After Mark Hamill, Heath Ledger and all the other amazing portrayals of this villain I was disappointed.
The action scenes were standard, nothing terrible but nothing special. Like most superhero movies today, there was a LOT of CGI. The opening and end credits were jarring as they included a lot of bright colors that tonally contrasted with the dark, gritty look of the movie. In that same vein there’s a constant feel throughout that this is the product of several people’s ideas of how to make a marketable movie, especially with the popular songs which randomly pop up throughout the running time.
The villain…uh, bad guy…of the movie is Enchantress, who breaks free of Waller’s control and uses a sky beam to destroy the world. Aside from her ridiculous body language, the fact that they wanted an excuse to put a model in a revealing outfit, and whatever they were trying to do with her voice, I did think she presented a credible threat and liked her partnership with her brother (Incubus). Incubus himself is pretty forgettable, but I did like the effects of his arm-energy-tendrils.
Of course, this means that the whole crisis is Waller’s fault, resulting in her asking Batman for protection in a mid-credits scene to promote the Justice League movie. Also, with the exceptions of Diablo and Killer Croc she decided to sent a team of people without superpowers to take down a being possibly more powerful than Superman. These are just a few of the plot holes in this movie, but is it worth viewing?
In my opinion, yes. There are enough good performances, reveals for characters, and an intimidatingly WRITTEN villain to make it worthwhile, but not enough to make anyone think DC movies were getting better. Batman v Superman completely failed, but Suicide Squad was passable enough to let the DCEU limp on long enough for its first outright good movie.
If you want to see a MUCH better Suicide Squad film, check out Batman: Assault on Arkham.
Score: 3 ★★★ 3/5