‘I’ ON CULTURE
Suicide Squad is an enjoyable movie. It’s not a great one, but it has a sense of fun sadly lacking in its prequel Batman vs. Superman. The idea of putting the villains at the center of a movie is clever. Most of the superheroes are boring, as clearly demonstrated by the earlier film. That is the reason the villains steal the show in just about all of these movies.
The film begins with Superman’s funeral (he died at the end of the prequel). Tough bureaucrat Amanda Waller (Viola Davis) points out that this time the world was lucky; the metahuman visitor was friendly. What would happen the next time? She gets permission to create a squad made up of supervillains, forcing them to cooperate by having poison capsules injected in their necks.
We then meet the group. Deadshot (Will Smith) is the world’s best assassin; he never misses. Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie) is the Joker’s girlfriend, even crazier and more violent than he. Boomerang (Jai Courtney) is a super-violent Australian thug; Croc (Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje), has skin like a crocodile and is great underwater. Chato “El Diablo” Santana (Jay Hernandez) is a pyro-kinetic; he can create fire whenever he wants. Assigned to Capt. Rick Flag (Joel Kinnaman), they are forced on a mission to take down the Enchantress (Cara Delevingne), a sorceress from another dimension who has taken over the body of Flag’s girlfriend June Moone and plans to destroy all life on Earth. In the middle of all of this, the Joker (Jared Leto) plans to get Harley back.
All of this leads to some major fighting. There are some great sequences; watching Deadshot use his skills to wipe out more than a dozen monsters is a dazzling ballet. Harley wields a deadly baseball bat, and all of the characters seem expert fighters.
The fascinating thing is that the nastiest killer in the movie is Waller; she makes the “bad guys” seem not nearly as bad and, to make matters worse, she is easily the most realistic of all the nasty folk. Watching Deadshot hit his targets feels movie-like and cartoonish. Soldiers shooting at bad guys is standard. Government officials making deals they won’t keep, shooting their own people as a cover-up, feels all too real.
The cast is good. Davis stands out as the too-mean-to-die boss. She could be a supervillain on her own, although her main superpower seems to be that she is totally coldblooded. Leto is disappointing. While coming across as appropriately nuts, he pales when next to Robbie and is not in most of the movie. Smith and Robbie are the standouts. He is great. While all of the other supervillains play over the top, he is cool. His is the most complete character, and he provides the backbone of the whole film. It is a good change for him; he has been in a lot of flops recently, but here he really centers the film.
Fernandez gives a good performance as Chato, horribly torn because, after using his skills as a casual arsonist, he lost his temper and burned up his wife and children. His torn feelings gave some heft to the film.
But Robbie steals the film. When she’s on screen, you barely see anything else. A beautiful actress, she casts at least a bit aside as she goes for the crazed gamine look. Her platinum pigtails, tiny costume, crimson mouth and face tattoos demand we keep our eyes on her.
I have heard that Robbie will be the main character in an upcoming film. She deserves it. She also gets a few good laughs. At one point, she gets her old outfit back. We see her in the last second as she changes into her tight, very short shorts and pulls her shirt down, turning around and asking the dozens of men staring at her, “What?”
The movie does not work perfectly. It sags at a couple of points, and some of the characters are one-dimensional. On the other hand, we all enjoyed ourselves. And Smith and Robbie were memorable. This is a nice summer movie, perhaps one of the last of the season.