I'm a pretty big fan of all the superhero genres out right now, although less so of Man of Steel and Batman v Superman. I want to be entertained by these films and based on the marketing, Suicide Squad looked fun with a good mix of actors. So, I went with open expectations, not allowing them to get too high nor too low. Here's my honest review.
This film is...perfectly watchable. That's the best way I can summarize it. It's not nearly as bad as Batman V Superman, but it's also far from great.
Some of the characters are fun, others are 'try-hard,' others are simply aggravating. You probably won't care if they bite the dust or not (I did not). The plot feels really unbalanced but the choreography in the frequent fight scenes are generally on point. The visuals are pretty solid, sometimes fantastic, while the music is at best fine, at worst terribly grating (as my wife put it in so many words, sections of the film felt more like trailers than actual scenes due to the constant use of recognizable music).
It's a mixed bag, really. It doesn't redeem previous DC films, but at the very least it doesn't really cause the hole to grow deeper.
Following the public ceremony of Superman's funeral, a spec ops government big shot (Amanda Waller played by Viola Davis) assembles a team of considerable talent (and terrible morality) to deal with large scale threats to the United States (for example, a terrorist Superman). However, a threat occurs that calls in their immediate mission. As you might guess, the characters aren't super willing to do this and look for any way to get free, even murdering their captors to do so.
It's super skimpy, I know, but to reveal more about the plot will take away a lot of the story that unfolds for itself. But there are definite problems with the plot. With such a deliberately expendable cast, you would think you would have some empathy with the characters but I never felt loss for any of them. The foe they fight is so unbelievably stronger than their collective, yet somehow they manage to deal with it (since the majority of the team focuses on shooting guns and can be easily killed by a bullet, why not do something more earth-bound?). Also, the whole Joker inclusion feels...flat and unnecessary, driven by a performance that feels...underwhelming and uninspired.
But the plot is a vehicle for your action scenes and it works so there's that.
Right off the bat you're hit with two very flavorful things that Suicide Squad puts out there, it's music and visuals. The whole scattered neon glow and graffiti signatures is present only at the beginning and the credits, which is a terrible shame. A lot of the characters' visuals are great though. Sure, Harley Quinn is shameless pandering (what's with the tattoo stating 'Lucky Ho' on her lower abdomen?), but there's Killer Croc who looks marvelous. Captain Boomerang looks like a filthy homeless man instead of a serial killer, but Enchantress's first form elicits a fascinating kind of darkness and creepiness (which her second form and her new voice is more than a let down). Other characters like Katana and Diablo are played straight to their comic origins and benefit from it.
What is introduced and persists is the literal playlist of someone desperate to make every scene match up to a song. "Seven Nation Army (The White Stripes)" plays when the squad is first assembled. Harley Quinn's theme song seems to be "You Don't Own Me (Grace)" as it plays numerous times with her character. Eminem's "Without Me," "Heathens" by Twenty-One Pilots, "Gangsta" by Kehlani...my point is everything is meant to match to something, and it's painfully obvious and becomes annoying well before the team is ever assembled.
The Mixed Messages
I can't tell if this film is supposed to be a dark satire, a 'kill em by the dozen' without the gore, some twisted sense of a romance movie, or what exactly. I originally took it to be a kind of rogue-ish find the good in you (a la Guardians of the Galaxy) but I couldn't figure it out. Harley and Joker's two sided romance was weird (considering how much he physically and emotionally abuses her in all other forms of entertainment). Most of the best jokes were in the trailers, leaving me to laugh far less than I wanted to. Also, the weirdest most unpredictable things happen, including the villain(s), a squadmate's transformation, how certain characters survive, and worst of all Killer Croc's nipples (it's so weird to see such a mammalian trait on a reptilian man).
Also, Killer Croc looked awesome with his hood up and jacket on and when he was fighting things. I could never understand what he said, why he did what he did, or anything else. Rick Flagg was arguably unnecessary and his accent drove me nuts, and I'm not sure what's caused Harley to be practically superhuman.
These are more minor things in the grand scheme I suppose. I reasonably enjoyed it nonetheless. Will Smith as Deadshot is pretty terrific to watch (and has the best lines, as always). Some of the action sequences and the visuals (again) are very entertaining. And even while I didn't care for the antagonist, it still provides a very effective presentation.
Sure, there's death and at times it's a little disturbing, but there's next to no blood and very little is dwelled upon. There's some profanity as you might expect, plenty of violence and threats of violence, and the obvious sexual implications of Harley's lack of pants. This might be a better one to screen first before deciding if your kids should watch it.
The film gets a meh from me. I'm glad to have watched it, but I'm hard pressed to attempt to convince someone to go see it in theaters. It's definitely worth renting at a Redbox once it's out, but only those who are really into superhero films and want to see the DC film universe develop should probably go see it, like myself. I will let you know that this film does very little to intersect with the current flow of things (from Superman and Batman's storyline, the anticipation of the Justice League).
So, yeah. It's worth watching, but you shouldn't bend over backwards in order to see it.
- A watchable DC film
- Strong visuals and choreography
- Super annoying soundtrack, illogical plot
- Shares the same world as Batman v Superman but doesn't strongly connect
- Characters are hard to empathize with
- Will Smith continues to shine bright even in mediocre films