Is Suicide Squad more entertaining (therefore objectively better in the case of most comic book adaptations) than, say, fellow DCEU flick Batman Vs Superman? Of course.
Did I fall asleep during the film like I did during Ant-man, a second-rate Marvel, another textbook origin story with bland, boring characters that’s only held together by fairly cool puny punch-ups? Nope, wide awake.
Can this lovable bunch of rogues compete with the likes of Starlord and Groot? Guardians being the slightly more kid-friendly and most beloved recent MCU comparable ensemble pic that brandishes unlikely heroes, a killer soundtrack and a similarly flat, sequel-inducing plot? Not quite.
I don’t claim to know the source material of any of the aforementioned films so I can claim to be completely objective in my assessment of the writing, the visuals, the acting, the camerawork etc. I’m not biased one way or the other. I’m sure the scores will stabilise and of course I take film ratings (despite doing my own) with a pinch of salt but the “critical” response to Suicide Squad I think is uncalled for. It’s much better than people are saying and people are seeing it despite the negativity. It’s not staying with you and having you recall buttplug jokes like Deadpool but dear God is it streets ahead of Jurassic World or the Avengers 2.
So, David Ayer, a writer and director who’s been involved in several great films since the early 2000s heads up SS with a fairly ethnically diverse cast including 2 Aussies (Robbie and Courtney), Jared Leto, Will Smith, Cara Delevigne, rap star Common, Jay Hernandez and Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje. A suitably extensive introductory sequence is churned out for each character while they’re all locked up and we learn how this ragtag group of misfits must team up and (because of the nano-explosive chip in their necks) put aside their personal interests and heartlessly fight like mercenaries to save Midway City.
The plot is as linear as a plot could ever be; literally, fight your way to the top and beat the boss. The boss is the Enchantress (Delvevingne) and her brother. Enchantress wants to form an army to destroy the human race, the race that worshipped then abandoned her many thousands of years prior. The wild idea to form the squad is approved and, lead strictly by Rick Flag (Kinnaman), the group heads into the fray. Hitman Deadshot (Smith), motivated to see his daughter again, brings the relatable spin to the group right before headshotting hordes upon hordes of transformed blotchy-faced mutant soldiers. Sexy, crazy Harley Quinn joyfully bonks the brains of her enemies with her bat and hammer (which has the the best sound effect for any weapon ever) while she awaits rescue from her Puddin’. Diablo (Hernandez) holds fire until absolutely necessary and Killer Croc and Boomerang fight too but the emphasis is very much on Harley’s backside for most of the film. Killer Croc is to SS what Drax is to Guardians or Wun Wun the troll in Game of Thrones Ep9 The Battle of The Bastards. Another Hero. To quote myself in my Guardians review:
“Without the snappy lines of dialogue from Star-Lord, Rocket and well, excellent delivery of the one line from Groot, GotG would fall flat on Drax and Gamora’s poorly written, uninteresting faces. “
Does this mean all the characters are poorly written? Does this mean the film’s dialogue is boring and generates apathy towards the characters? Absolutely not. Some of the characters end up different to how they started and that’s all you need for an arc. I consider these films like comic books themselves, I would never expect a new, wiser Spiderman in every edition because he’s always going to be following his moral compass; never swapping it out for a new one. Not to mention people talk about character development like it’s a necessity..
I think the portrayals of all the characters were great too. Leto’s Joker is freakishly scary and unpredictable and his manic, hilariously erratic queen Harley is a joy to watch and brings a lot of the film’s jokes. The appearance of various other DCEU characters was interesting. The story of how they were all initially captured transitioned quickly into the squad getting out on the street, a no-BS approach I appreciated a lot. The lack of restraint in the CGI of our super-villains was probably a good thing for intensity purposes though how the hell they’ll top this villain in a sequel I just don’t know.
All in all, it didn’t feel like a cash-grab and it was thoroughly entertaining. It was occasionally stylish, it was often funny and one point I felt a bit of tension.
I can’t remember what I dreamt during Ant-Man.