Director: David Ayer
Cast: Will Smith, Margot Robbie, Joel Kinnaman, Viola Davis, Jared Leto, Jay Hernandez, Jai Courtney, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, Cara Delevingne, Ike Barinholtz, Karen Fukuhara, Adam Beach, Scott Eastwood
MPAA Rating: (for sequences of violence and action throughout, disturbing behavior, suggestive content and language)
Running Time: 2:03
Release Date: 8/5/16
Review by Mark Dujsik | August 4, 2016
It's pretty obvious that writer/director David Ayer thought the premise of Suicide Squad was enough. The premise is that super-villains come together to form a team and try to save the day for once (One has to assume that every superhero came down with a bad case of food poisoning at the meeting to set up their own team). To be fair, it's a neat concept, but as everybody knows, that alone is not enough to sustain an entire movie.
There is very little to sustain this one. From a narrative standpoint, the movie is listless. After an hour of establishing and re-establishing the stories of its multiple antiheroes, we finally arrive at something resembling a plot. For some reason, that's when Ayer's screenplay decides to play coy with us. After spending an inordinate amount of time explaining the setup, the script has a character quite curtly dismiss the notion of explaining of the plot: "If I explained it to you, you wouldn't believe me." The plot is unbelievable, not because it involves a 3,000-year-old witch trying to take over the world, but because of how utterly generic and completely inconsequential it actually is.
To be fair again, the plot shouldn't matter, since it's clear from the lengthy setup that Ayer is betting on the personalities of these villains to carry the entirety of the movie. We're introduced to a few of the main characters, locked away in a high-security prison, and then Amanda Waller (Viola Davis), the government official who introduces the plan to assemble a team of villainous meta-humans, proceeds to introduce each member of the team again. If the description of what happens in the first hour is starting to sound redundant, that's good. It's how the movie feels.
There's Deadshot (Will Smith), the world's deadliest hitman with a heart of gold. He was stopped by Batman (an uncredited Ben Affleck) when his daughter (Shailyn Pierre-Dixon) stepped between the hitman's gun and the superhero (who just lets the girl do it without trying to, you know, protect her). Yes, if the money's right, he'll kill anyone without any remorse, but he loves his little girl. That's supposed to even it out, one supposes.
There's Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie), the Joker's (Jared Leto) former psychiatrist who set the criminal free, only to be physically and psychologically tortured by the maniac as her reward. Now she's abused and ogled by the prison guards. She's essentially a sociopath, although she still "loves" the Clown Prince of Crime. There are times when we suspect Ayer recognizes that Harley is the victim of an abusive relationship with a master manipulator, but instead of seeing that as the tragic side of the character, he approaches her "love" without quotation marks.
The montages relating the major characters' back stories continue. So, too, do Ayer's attempts of exonerating these villains of any real villainy. Essentially, in trying to make these characters broadly sympathetic, Ayer has removed any degree of personality that might make them noteworthy.
Diablo (Jay Hernandez) is a reformed gangster who has the ability to create and shoot fire, and he insists he's finished with violence. Luckily for him, when he does need to return to his fire-shooting ways, his victims are all mindless, zombie-like spore monsters created by Enchantress (Cara Delevingne), the aforementioned witch. She was supposed to be part of the team, but you know witches with tendencies toward global domination.
The rest of the squad is made up of villains Captain Boomerang (Jai Courtney), who throws his namesake, and the hulking, scaly Killer Croc (Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje), as well as soldier Rick Flagg (Joel Kinnaman) and samurai Katana (Karen Fukuhara), who possesses a mystical sword. The latter two try to keep the rest of the team in line under threat of grisly death if they stray (A random addition to the team appears out of nowhere just to prove the point). The team moves forward with a vague goal (which, apparently, has nothing to do with stopping Enchantress until it becomes necessary for something—anything—to happen plot-wise), while the Joker slowly makes his way toward rescuing Harley.
While in action, these characters are nothing more than apathetic, sarcasm-prone action heroes. The cast members are game (especially Smith, who's too likeable for this role, and Robbie, who helps to highlight the actual tragedy of her character), but Ayer's screenplay fails to give them anything more than one-liners to toss out with an indifferent attitude. Here's something of a feat, then: Suicide Squad spends more than half of its running time establishing these characters, only to turn them into personality-deprived pawns when they actually have to do something.
Copyright © 2016 by Mark Dujsik. All rights reserved.
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