By Michael Kaye
Suicide Squad (Review)
Finally, my most anticipated movie of the summer has arrived, and I can't wait to talk about it! When Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice failed to live up to some people's expectations, all eyes became locked onto the next DC Extended Universe film to save the day. There's been a lot of behind the scenes talk about this movie, from stories about Jared Leto's unorthodox method acting to rumors and speculation about reshoots due to heavy studio meddling. But I'm putting all of that baggage to the side, only focusing on the finished product. So without further ado, this is my review for Suicide Squad, written and directed by David Ayer.
Here's the story. A secret government agency recruits imprisoned supervillains to execute dangerous black ops missions in exchange for clemency.
I'm not gonna lie, I love this movie! Next to Deadpool, this was the most fun I've had at the theater for a comic book movie in 2016! Having seen it twice now, I have solidified all of my positives and negatives.
*Possible spoilers ahead*
First off, the cast was awesome. I can't definitively pick out a single bad performance, for everyone truly brought their A-game. Will Smith was pitch perfect for this version of Deadshot. He brought his signature charm and charisma and infused it with the character's cold yet honorable heart. Margot Robbie and Jared Leto together were fantastic as Harley Quinn and the Joker, DC Comics's version of Bonnie and Clyde. It's been reported that a solo Harley Quinn movie is in development, and if that ends up happening, I hope the Joker has a larger role than he did here, because I really like what Leto brought to the character. With all due respect to the late Heath Ledger, Leto might just have outdone him in terms of the intimidation factor, but the jury's out until I see a larger sample size. There are far too many people in this cast to name everyone, so the last people I'm going to talk about are Viola Davis as Amanda Waller, Joel Kinnaman as Colonel Rick Flagg, and Jay Hernandez as El Diablo. Even before the casting became official, I knew Davis was the absolute right choice to play Amanda Waller when I saw a trailer for her ABC series How to Get Away With Murder, which was probably the very reason she landed the role. The biggest surprise for me was El Diablo, who ended up becoming my favorite supporting character, and the one with the most emotional arc of the entire cast next to Deadshot.
The star of the film behind the camera is definitely writer and director David Ayer. I love what he's created with this movie, which is essentially a 90's throwback action comedy romp that just so happens to take place deep within the greater DC Universe. As I'll explain later, there are some things I didn't like, but in general, I love the world building in this film. It's probably a good idea to have seen Batman v Superman before going to see this movie, as the events of that film clearly carry over. The way Batman is utilized in this film is brilliant, portraying for the first time on screen the character from the perspective of the villains. There's another great Justice League cameo in the film, one that makes a quick first impression. In my second viewing, I found the flashback scenes to be much more effective, with the two standouts being Deadshot's encounter with Batman and El Diablo's backstory.
The action for the most part was so much fun to watch. This is the reason why I love David Ayer as a director, and why his involvement in this movie got me very excited when it was announced. A minor nitpick I have is that he doesn't seem all that comfortable handling too many CGI effects, which is why a good majority of the film was shot practically, including a pretty big helicopter crash on the way to their first mission. My favorite scenes usually involved either Deadshot and his sharp shooting skills or the Joker and his goons causing absolute mayhem.
Finally, I have to talk about the music. Not only was Steven Price's score fantastic, but it honestly felt like the songs included on the soundtrack were tailor made for me, and anyone else who loves classic rock and hip hop. Seriously, they have everything from "House of the Rising Sun" by the Animals, to Eminem's "Without Me," as well as songs from Black Sabbath, the Rolling Stones, AC/DC, Creedence Clearwater Revival, and of course, we end on Queen's "Bohemian Rhapsody."
Talking about negatives is going to be interesting, because content wise, I was fairly satisfied. Most of what I didn't like had to do with the structure.
The one story issue I had was with the main antagonist. On the one hand, I actually didn't have a problem with Cara Delevigne's portrayal of Enchantress, and if WB was ever going to make a Demon Knights film, I would love to see her reprise the role in a more period piece setting. However, I'm not exactly a fan of the DCEU introducing magic this early, and with this specific team. Something that would have been easier to handle, especially in terms of David Ayer's strengths as a director, would have been to have a more grounded antagonist, while the reason for assembling this team is because of Batman's absence while forming the Justice League. An idea I came up with today was to have a series of terrorist attacks orchestrated by Gordon Godfrey, just as a simple way to further develop the DCEU and to set up for Justice League.
The other problem I had is the same one I had for the theatrical cut of Batman v Superman, and that's the amount of scenes cut from the film. WB, we need to have a serious discussion about your goddamn reactionary attitude every single time something goes wrong with your superhero films. I understand why you felt uncomfortable releasing a 3-hour R-rated superhero film in theaters, especially one with three of the biggest superheroes of all time. But chopping up that movie the way you did really hurt it in the long run, and now it seems like you're repeating the exact same mistake once again. Removing my opinion from the equation, the biggest problem people had with BvS was NOT the tone, it was the poor editing and pacing that people didn't like. I would love to see the original version of Suicide Squad before a whole mess of suits came in to fix a movie that more than likely wasn't broken. That being said, I hope this is the last time I ever have to bring this up in a review again, because I can't afford to purchase a more expensive director's cut of a movie for EVERY entry in the DCEU!
Despite all of its flaws, I still dug the hell out of Suicide Squad. I really want this movie to be a smash hit at the box office this weekend, that way we can see more DC films involving the surviving characters. I'd love to see Amanda Waller as a foil in a future Justice League movie, I look forward to both Deadshot and the Joker inevitably facing off against Batman in one of his solo adventures, and the sooner I hear news about Gotham City Sirens, the happier I'll be.
Now I want to hear what you guys have to say. Have you seen Suicide Squad, and if so what did you think? Also, which future DC films are you looking forward to the most? Drop your thoughts in the comments below, and check out my editorial on Nine Lives.