DC studios continues to make attempts to establish franchise super heroes beyond the Christopher Nolan batman series. With the highly anticipated “Justice League” in the works DC studios continues to trail behind Marvel studios with regards to quality of product as well as fan interest. Enter Suicide Squad, a less widely known (among casual fans) DC property that brings together a group of “meta-humans” to fight against threats to the US government. On literal paper (in the comic books) this worked because of the comic’s commitment to maintaining that these were indeed villains bound only by self preservation rather than any inherent need to do good for goodness sake. (you better watch out) On film, this translated as a ragtag bunch of antiheroes with hearts of gold who maybe, just maybe would make a friend in the process of doing a good deed.
A few thoughts about Suicide Squad:
- A solid performance from Will Smith – Will Smith leans into his role as Deadshot an antihero hit man who only cares about the welfare of his daughter. He is funny, at times serious, and all in all refreshing to watch as he breaks from his typical character archetype. Seeing Will Smith play an ensemble player in a movie that did not necessarily revolve around him was a definite break from the norm.
- Clunky pacing – This movie was the victim of some second guessing from the studio after the successful release of “Deadpool”. At times it was easy to spots the portions of the film that had been updated to fit a more silly tone. However this happened at the cost of a well paced film with any clear intentions. As the tone shifted wildly from serious to fun, to grave, and at times ridiculous, it could be easy to forget where the viewer was at any given scene.
- Strange villain – Not like “Dr. Strange”, but strange as in strangely placed. This villain at times seemed to be overly powerful for this group as a first obstacle. The foot soldiers seemed to be placed in the film as a low level enough challenge to showcase the powers of the protagonists. This felt very plot device-y. However the way the team came together seemed to indicate that there will be other adventures and obstacles for the team to face in future films.
- Suicide Squad felt like “antiheroes” – In some cases the poison was taken out of the fangs of these villains. The Suicide squad was meant to be a group of dangerous super criminals who were only released to do the government’s bidding. At times they felt more like the superhero response to the expendables. The decision was clearly made to soften these criminals to make them “likable” for the audience. This was done at the cost of complexity to the characters, making some of them seem like flat stock pieces of a typical “team” movie.
- Off screen backstory – This film, much like “Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice” leaves much assumption to the viewer. There is some character development and plot that occurs off screen that clearly affects the decisions made by the characters on screen. Except for some flashbacks to explain some of these decisions or feelings, it seems as much is left to the assumption of the viewer. This film definitely expects you to know the backstory of batman and the joker. Speaking of the Joker…..
- The Joker’s presence was not necessary – This movie did no real service to the Joker as a character as the viewer is not actually introduced to the Joker as a character with any depth. While one should not immediately compare this Joker to the Joker from “The Dark Knight” there was definitely a sense that his presence in this movie was either thought necessary by studio executives or some sort of fan service. This would have been a far more intriguing movie with just the Joker’s finger prints and bread crumbs in the film rather than the lackluster performance from Jared Leto. (also plot wise, the Joker could have been anyone as far as his actual effect on the story)
- Better than most of the other DC movies – Except for the Christopher Nolan Batman films this movie stood out as a minor success for DC. Not a disaster, while not a resounding success, this film was not as problematic as many of the other DC films in rotation. (read: superman)
All in all, a nice distraction from the Washington DC summer heat. Bring the teenagers, leave the young children at the house. 2.99 of 5 stars.