Bad guys you may or may not have ever heard of get coerced into fighting for good in the latest “superhero” film from Warner Brothers and DC Comics.
“Suicide Squad” is a largely enjoyable mess of a movie where director David Ayer invites viewers on a nearly two-hour thrill ride, but moviegoers have to concede some things first.
Sure, you’ve likely never heard of or seen most of these villains (or the actors playing them) before, but just go with it.
It’s true that “Suicide Squad” underwent massive changes following the poor reception for DC’s last film, the fatally flawed “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice.” Just go with it.
And yes, there are characters in the “Suicide Squad” who don’t really say much or have any impact on the plot in any way, shape or form. Just go with it.
If you’re able to buy in and ignore all of these conceits, forgetting the fact that much of the plot makes no sense whatsoever, you’re in for a pretty fun ride.
The plot is relatively straightforward. Following the events of “Batman v Superman,” the world is in need of some extra protection and the government decides to launch a program where a team of supervillains – including ultra-sniper Deadshot (Will Smith) and psychotic assistant Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie) — are assembled Avengers-style to combat an unknown threat to Gotham City. To keep them in line, a bomb is inserted in their neck and will be detonated if they disobey. Then off to war they go.
Robbie, who has constantly been a standout performer lately, delivers the single best performance in “Suicide Squad,” bordering on delirious, deranged and delightful as villainess Harley Quinn. The film plays to Robbie’s strong suits using her beauty and quirky humor and her chemistry is especially clear with “Focus” co-star Smith. Given how good Robbie is in the role, Warner Brothers and DC are already developing a film based around the Harley Quinn character, a smart move by the studio.
Smith is solid in a large ensemble role as expert hitman Deadshot. For a character never previously introduced in DC’s cinematic lore, Smith and Ayer do a great job of quickly developing the character for unfamiliar audiences. Smith feels freer as an actor in “Suicide Squad” freed from the burden of carrying the film. Deadshot is one of Smith’s better performances this decade, which feels wasted in an otherwise middling movie.
In what ultimately becomes nothing more than an extended cameo appearance, Jared Leto is the film’s biggest misfire as the iconic Batman villain The Joker. Granted, Heath Ledger’s Oscar-winning performance as The Joker in “The Dark Knight” was a nearly insurmountable hill for Leto to climb to put his own stamp on the part.
His haphazard performance paired with the weird 20s gangster direction Ayer and Leto decided to take the character fall completely flat. It’s the single biggest disappointment for an actor playing a part in a film based on a comic book ever.
It’s difficult to tell if Ayer is truly at fault for the disjointed storytelling and tone of “Suicide Squad,” which ping-pongs from character to character at the drop of a hat, sometimes for no real reason. Ayer claims that the film viewers see in theaters represents his cut of the film. It’s hard to believe him given the many reports of Warner Brothers developing their own separate cut of the film and how different “Suicide Squad” feels from Ayer’s other films like “End of Watch” and “Fury.”
There are plenty of things to like about “Suicide Squad,” especially Robbie’s maddeningly brilliant take on a classic Batman villain. Though not a flawless movie, the action thrill ride represents the last true summer blockbuster film in 2016 and is worth checking out for those looking to turn off their brains and have a fun evening at the theater.