The 400-Word Review: Suicide Squad
By Sean Collier
August 8, 2016
There’s a certain irony in the Warner Bros./DC Comics team being the first studio to present a comic-book film focused on the villains rather than the heroes. For this group, aiming the camera at the dark side with Suicide Squad does not represent a departure; the Superman and Batman represented in Man of Steel and Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice are heroes in name only, neither charismatic nor particularly moral. If anything, the likes of Harley Quinn and Deadshot are easier to relate to than the recent incarnations of the Man of Steel and the Caped Crusader.
After the mass rejection of Batman v Superman earlier this year, there was ample trepidation over whether the misguided studio could do justice to the dark, anti-hero comic series. Reports held that the popularity of Deadpool caused Warner Bros. to demand reshoots to make Suicide Squad more lively and funny. Rumors of a split between writer/director and top brass further dampened audience hopes.
And yet, in this isolated case, the off-set hand-wringing seems to have resulted in a movie that stumbles backwards into something resembling quality — and unlike its predecessors, it’s actually fun.
Fearful of the power held by beings such as Superman, government heavy Amanda Waller (Viola Davis) presents a dire plan: force a group of the world’s worst villains to unite and defend humanity on command. She recruits baddies including Quinn (Margot Robbie), Deadshot (Will Smith), El Diablo (Jay Hernandez) and Killer Croc (Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje), and enlists super soldier Rick Flag (Joel Kinnaman) to keep them in line.
Inevitably, a world-threatening obstacle presents itself almost immediately, and the crew is called into action. There’s a catch, though; no one bothered to keep tabs on the Joker (Jared Leto), who is characteristically determined to free Harley.
Suicide Squad is certainly messy, and falls into a sadly pedestrian pattern in its final act; this is not a film as tight or enjoyable as any of the better Marvel films. Particularly in its first hour, however, it is fast-paced and enjoyable; meeting the cast of miscreants and watching them interact is an undeniably fun time at the multiplex.
Add game performances — particularly from the captivating Robbie, but from Leto and Smith as well — and Suicide Squad is imperfect, but worlds ahead of its big brother. As beleaguered as DC has been, that has to count as a win.
My Rating: 7/10
Sean Collier is the Associate Editor of Pittsburgh Magazine and a member of the Broadcast Film Critics Association. Read more from Sean at pittsburghmagazine.com/afterdark