Suicide Squad (2016); the joke was on us
|Photo Credit: Suicide Squad / Warner Bros Pictures|
Director David Ayer was handed the keys of the kingdom to direct an installment for the DC film universe. In what was one of the most hyped movies in the super-antihero genre, quickly divided moviegoers into love or hate camps, and for good reasons. Suicide Squad has a lot of things going on; some rewarding, some lousy, most of which can't adequately be more sense of.
A big source of ire is simply the perverted faux marketing the film suffered at the hands of Warner Bros. Whether it was an attempt to get one over on it's rival Marvel or the more necessary material ended up on the cutting room floor, the film's assured adrenaline rush lags in comparison to the awesome trailers trolling fans for the past year. Ayer's next leg of DC's franchise comes across more like a messy game of bumper cars trying to get across an imagined finished line.
Essentially, the story struggles to identify what the squad is supposed to do in terms of its all-important mission and how we feel about the group.
Unlike individual installments that focus on one superhero, this flick takes us through the backstories of the entire squad: skilled marksman who never misses Deadshot (Will Smith), unbalanced former psychiatrist Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie), an assassin Boomerang (Jai Courtney), a reptilian supervillain Killer Croc (Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje), and a fire-summoning former L.A. gang member El Diablo (Jay Hernandez).
The peak into who these guys are and why they are so dangerous works to a point; we understand how they can get their hands dirty and bloody and find justification for it. The film almost spends too much time unmasking the squad until their reputation as actual dangerous criminals becomes blurred. As much as we care of the bad guys, should our hearts turn so soft to them that we forget why they are behind bars? that the impetuous headstrong Waller starts looking like the villain?
While the inclusion of backstories isn't a major mistake, their insertion is one example of the disorganized story. The script is too dedicated to playing up the task force's all-important government-imposed mission. Waller and her supposed villain end up coming across like a magician using choppy misdirection to complete a half-brained trick. The squad gel together but their cause is poorly executed.
As an ensemble and building up the squad, the cast is certainly on point. Most of the squad is very well-rounded, share a humorous camaraderie, and make-up one hell of a team. Smith and Robbie steal the show and nearly every scene. Though the pair already has great chemistry together from their previous film Focus, the two really step it up here; so much so, it would be great just to have individual installments of their own.
Additionally, there is no shortage of compliments that can be given to Robbie, who seems to be an entirely different movie of her own. Her Harley Quinn is vulnerable, clever, off her rocker; completely complex. Robbie has so much fun with the role without letting her performance become a caricature or sloppy. She is definitely the star of the film.
Suicide Squad isn't wholly intolerable. Ayer's initial attempt to create a gritty comic book ride ultimately gets diluted down into a very flawed flick. With a good cast, and wicked soundtrack, his original vision - whatever that may have been, barely survives. The film ends up existing in the ether of the superhero genre, where one can only dream it was as exciting as its trailers. Sorry to say, the joke was on us.