“It’s taken me some time, but I finally have them. The worst of the worst.” – Amanda Waller
In the aftermath of Superman’s (Henry Cavill) death, ruthless Amanda Waller (Viola Davis) gathers a team of criminal misfits to carry out deadly missions too risky for the US military to handle. To ensure these criminals will obey her commands, she implants a nanotech explosive into each of their necks.
The film establishes from the beginning, just who these Suicide Squad members are. We are given the back stories to Dr. Harleen Quinzel/Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie), Deadshot/Floyd Lawton (Will Smith), Killer Croc (Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje), Chato Santana/Diablo (Jay Hernandez), and Digger Harkness/Captain Boomerang (Jai Courtney). They are to be led by Colonel Rick Flag (Joel Kinnaman), who is handpicked by Waller to execute her plans.
Waller uses Dr. June Moon/Enchantress (Cara Delevingne)—who is possessed by a witch after opening a cursed idol, and happens to be the girlfriend of Col. Flag— as an example to other government officials as to why this criminal-led task force (Task Force X) should be used to fight these dangerous missions.
As a bonus, the world doesn’t care about them, so if something goes wrong, they can be thrown under the bus. No big deal. Waller’s argument is: what if another meta human like Superman comes to earth but doesn’t have the same opinion of the human race?
Waller, who uses Dr. Moon to control Enchantress by keeping her heart in a secure box for only her use, gets her to steal Top Secret documents that the government has been searching for, thus getting these officials on board with her plan; much to the disdain of Col. Flag – since he did fall in love with the now possessed doctor.
Delevingne’s portrayal of the Enchantress was visually stunning. The effects surrounding her to make her look dark and demented worked well within the storyline of misfits. But that’s where it stopped for me. Since Enchantress is looking to make her own play, as she was once worshipped by the very humans who have enslaved her (more on that later), she is supposed to be (for cinematic purposes) the main villain the Squad is unknowingly going to battle with, but it didn’t pack the punch needed for it be believable. However, Waller’s (Davis) devious actions and reasoning far surpassed Enchantress in the villain category.
Security officer Griggs (Ike Barinhotlz) at Belle Reve Penitentiary is in charge of handling the Squad as prisoners, and for his short screen time, he was quite humorous. His attraction to Harley Quinn (Robbie) was both obvious and understandable; but his cracks at her mental state also left room for a quiet chuckle. In the same token, his back and forth threats with Deadshot/Floyd Lawton (Smith) are similarly humorous but only because it’s clear that Griggs knows exactly what Deadshot is capable of.
The recruitment of the Squad by Col. Flag (Kinnaman) and Waller seems simple to them, but they don’t take into account that the Squad would want nothing to do with helping the very people who have them all serving multiple life sentences for their crimes. This is where negotiations ensue. Deadshot seemingly has the most to gain, so although reluctant, promises of reuniting with his daughter win him over.
Once assembled and heading into a basic death sentence, another Squad member joins the group by the name of Slipknot (Adam Beach). Slipknot received no introduction or back story and that is because (spoiler) he dies almost as immediately as he is brought on. Col. Flag has a weapon of his own by the name of Katana (Karen Fukuhara), who is there to keep the Squad in line with her insane sword wielding capabilities. Katana gets a brief backstory as well, but her intentions are more of justice and honor rather than malicious intent as we are told consistently throughout the film of the “bad guys”.
In the midst of all the madness, we get snippets of the Joker (Leto) and his intentions on rescuing Quinn from essentially being forced into the Squad. He will stop at nothing and kill anyone in his way to get to her. The first reunion between them is when the Joker hijacks a helicopter meant for Waller to get away; when they do, (spoiler) Waller insists Deadshot kill Quinn for escaping with the Joker, missing (obviously on purpose), then Waller having her military resources shoot the helicopter down and kill them (there is more to that to, but I won’t spoil that). Now, apart from that, with the many versions and actors of the Joker that there have been over the years, Leto was certainly able to differentiate himself and leave a very lasting impression of his take on the comic book character. The Joker was one of the main highlights of the film; albeit for short periods of time and limited scenes.
Since the Squad is under false pretenses of the intentions Waller and Col. Flag have for Waller’s so-called mission, Deadshot finds out that the Squad is the actual bait to take the fall if the mission to stop whatever supernatural forces are going down in Midway City (thanks Enchantress) goes south. Deadshot and Col. Flag eventually end up finding a mutual respect for one another, and Deadshot sort of becomes a leader of the Squad; despite the direction of Flag. All of the misfits look to Deadshot for direction, and it is large part to do with his presence as a character.
As the story progresses and they head off to fight what becomes a new mission of sorts to stop Enchantress, El Diablo (Hernandez) finally gets his time to shine. He felt like a tortured background character for the most of the film, so his meta human capabilities came as quite a shock for the grand finale; which lacked believability.
Killer Croc (Agbaje) and Captain Boomerang (Courtney) weren’t really given that much to do throughout the film either which made the dialogue they were given come off forced at times. Even though the backgrounds were introduced (e.g. Diablo’s past and his use of fire haunts him, Killer Croc’s cannibalism keeps him in the sewers and a danger to society, and Boomerang’s thieving of simple items he can get his hand on), I can only assume that it was more of a set up for future Suicide Squad films rather than a significant role in its first attempt.
With that said, Harley (again, spoiler) feigning interest in a deal to live a normal life with the Joker via the Enchantress’ powers, is able to get close enough to slice her heart out, thus stopping Enchantress (who can read minds) from taking over the world (insert plot hole here).
Then there were the cameos of Batman (Ben Affleck) and The Flash (Ezra Miller) which was another highlight of the film. As the DC universe becomes more involved with each film, we can only hope the setups of characters for future releases are worth the effort. As of yet, it doesn’t seem that it has reached a sizeable payoff in terms of likeability, but the persistence of the WB and DC to become a powerhouse in the comic book movie industry is worthy of an applause. I am personally trying to keep my spirits up that the new Wonder Woman and/or Justice League will prove that the plot holes in the three previous DC films will somehow make sense.
With all of that said, it seems director David Ayer was trying to take Suicide Squad on the right track in having the actors portray closely what their comic book counterparts are, but the overall direction of the film fell short and felt clumsy. The fighting scenes although action packed, seemed disjointed, and the actors in the film were fed lines that at times were cringe worthy and cheesy.
Deadshot (Smith) and Quinn (Robbie) absolutely carried Suicide Squad for the entirety of its playing time. Robbie’s portrayal of the deranged but loveable Quinn could have not been more accurate and enjoyable to watch on screen. Equally, Smith’s portrayal of Deadshot will make you root for him in every sense. The love he has for his daughter will tug at your heart strings and make him seem like less of “bad guy” and more of a guy you want to be on the side of—despite his laundry list of victims.
The chemistry Quinn and Deadshot share is an added bonus; as is the chemistry between Quinn and the Joker. In the comics, their relationship is much more toxic than shown in Suicide Squad, but for cinematic purposes and a PG-13 rating, I think Ayer did do justice to their twisted love story. The rest of the Squad certainly had memorable moments trickled in throughout, but definitely fell back into the shadows of its stars: Will Smith, Margot Robbie, and Jared Leto (I understand the Joker had very limited screen time, but he stole the show in each scene).
Overall, I would give this film a 3 out of 5-star rating; in large part due to the plot holes and anti-climactic ending. However, it was an enjoyable film for what it was. I certainly enjoyed it more than Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice, so hopefully, the DC universe strives to be better with each film, or they may keep falling flat.
Also noteworthy; there is a scene between Waller and Bruce Wayne (Affleck) after the credits, so stay tuned.
Suicide Squad is now playing in 2D, 3D and IMAX; running time: 123 minutes; rated: PG-13