When the good guys fail, the bad guys need to go save the world. If they don’t want to after trying bribery and threats, just implant them with a bomb and have them save the world. Enter the Suicide Squad, DC Comics’ latest movie. Is it good? Is it bad? We know!
In the elite circles of the US government, they’re known as Task Force X. They’re the worst of the worst. Hardened criminals, sociopaths, mass murderers, metahumans or not. Fact is, they’re the scum of the Earth and nobody would miss them. It is those people that Amanda Waller of the secret service A.R.G.U.S. has rounded up to battle threats that nobody else could tackle.
Because, you see, nerd-knowledge has it that the current state of the DC Cinematic Universe – the universe in which all the movies by DC Comics take place – is in a bit of a weird spot. Over in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, Superman has just died and the Justice League has not yet formed. So the only hero out there is Batman (Ben Affleck). Villains, however, are legion and they’re occasionally superpowered. So Waller’s insane plane gains some traction in the secret service circles and she’s actually authorized to put together a team.
- Deadshot (Will Smith): The world’s best gun for hire. Accurate at 4000 meters and father of one.
- Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie): Girlfriend and former psychiatrist turned nutjob to The Joker (Jared Leto).
- El Diablo (Jay Hernandez): Quiet former gang member turned pacifist. Reluctant to use his powers.
- Captain Boomerang (Jai Courtney): Violent robber from Australia. Came to the USA because he wanted a change of scenery. Likes pink unicorns.
- Rick Flag (Joel Kinnaman): Most decorated soldier in the history of the United States. Leads the Suicide Squad because he wants to protect his girlfriend June Moone
- Enchantress (Cara Delevingne): Ancient spirit that possesses June Moone. Witch.
- Katana (Karen Fukuhara): Bodyguard to Rick Flag. Wields a sword that traps the souls of her victims.
- Killer Croc (Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje): Former wrestler with enhanced strength, near impenetrable skin and a bad temper. Looks reminiscent of a crocodile.
This ensemble cast is sent to defeat a big and vaguely threatening lightning thing in the sky – a thing Hollywood is currently quite fond of. But here’s the thing: Nobody cares about the villain in this story, not only because the good guys are the villains but also because it’s just not that kind of movie. Despite all the potential for combat and bloodshed, it’s the interactions between the characters that steals the show.
Harley Quinn! ‘nuff said!
By far the character getting the biggest amount of spotlight is Harley Quinn. Not only is her origin and her relationship with The Joker a thread that weaves itself all the way through the movie, but also just the most interesting aspect of the ongoing story. This is mainly due to Margot Robbie’s fantastic portrayal of the character. She’s delightfully unhinged, self-aware and admittedly insane. However, there’s just a little spark of self-awareness there that makes her a really interesting character. It is painfully obvious that Robbie’s Harley Quinn needs her own movie. In fact, the powers that be agree and there’s currently an Untitled Harley Quinn Project in the works at Warner Bros..
But it’s not just her who steals the show whenever she’s in the frame, but all characters on the squad get their moment to shine, be it as a sort of character vignette in the case of Katana or through silence and restraint in the case of El Diablo. Not only are these all undeniably bad characters, but they’re also very sympathetic. Certainly more sympathetic than Superman (Henry Cavill) in all his appearances, because they’re not portrayed as characters to mistrust. These are humans, more or less, who are just very, very bad.
The only bit of casting that doesn’t fit is Will Smith as Deadshot. However, even here, all the ingredients are there. Smith acts well, the part is well written and the character is interesting. It’s just that Will Smith is a bit too famous a face to believably pull off the world’s best assassin. And he almost never wears his trademark white mask, which is a shame, really.
Story. Who needs it?
You might notice by now that I’m barely touching upon the story. That’s mainly because there’s very little of it. The bad guys are holed up in the centre of the city, our team of merry villains are on the outskirts. They must find their way to the centre, save an asset and kill the threat. While this might seem thin, it stands to argue that this is writer David Ayer we’re talking about here, the man who made Training Day, a spectacular film about two policemen on the streets of LA. They don’t save the world or anything, they just drive and live. So the thin plot is just there to get the characters into motion and interacting.
That said, there’s one big weakness of the movie: Pacing. After about the halfway marker, when all origin stories are mostly out of the way, the speed of the movie notably decreases, peaking in a scene inside a bar where the story comes to a temporary halt before it picks up speed again. This slowness is somewhat distracting, especially given the earlier indications that this was going to be a fast-paced movie.
It’s also a delight to see a superhero movie that does not rely too heavily on CGI. Until the big finale that is. There, it turns into a CGI slug-fest for a bit and it’s quite distracting from the otherwise realistic and grounded portrayal of pretty much anyone in the movie. It still doesn’t take away from the fun, though. What the lack of very obvious CGI early in the movie does is make the bits of CGI that are in the movie all the more effective. Enchantress’ eyes are outright haunting and the transformation from June Moone to the ancient spirit is very creative even though it’s basically a twist of a hand.
All in all, Suicide Squad is a movie that will never win any Oscar or even award. It most definitely doesn’t deserve all the hatred it’s getting because of its simplistic story, because it never intended to have viewers leave the cinema and question their existences. It accomplishes exactly what it sets out to do: Entertain. And it accomplishes that very well.
Suicide Squad opens in Swiss cinemas on August 18.