In a world where it seems the so-called film critics love everything Marvel and despise all things DC, there is a dawn of cinematic justice (okay, couldn’t resist) – with director/writer David Ayer’s (Fury, Street Kings) Suicide Squad DC finally outdoes Marvel and then some.
If you are reading this after seeing all those rotted tomatoes heaved at the screen and other assorted critics whining about Suicide Squad leaving them wanting more, please discount their whimpering and go see what is easily one of the most fast-paced, inventive, and entertaining films of the year, clearly surpassing Captain America: Civil War, which I liked, but not as much as this film.
In that Marvel world we have the team split between Iron Man and Cap, but in this DC universe there is discord beyond teams. Fitting into the void left after Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice (no spoilers for those who did not see that), there is nothing to stand in the way of a new threat – either alien or otherwise.
In comes some secret government agency honcho Amanda Waller (in an over the top performance by Viola Davis) who proposes assembling a team of super villains to rise to the next challenge. When a new threat is imminent, she will get what she wants, and the way each villain is introduced and given a back story is an excellent opportunity to get to know our new band of despicable heroes.
Leading the group of hopelessly incarcerated bad asses who are longing for a get out of jail card is Deadshot (Will Smith seemingly combining the intensity of his Concussion character with the cockiness of his Independence Day one), who longs to have time with his daughter and for her to know that he is not all bad.
He is joined by Margot Robbie’s Harley Quinn (giving a whole new meaning to hot and mess) who is clearly the most entertaining character of the lot, and reason enough to pluck down your money to see the film. Her back story actually gets the most traction, and for good reason – she is inextricably linked to psycho clown prince The Joker (Jared Leto taking a complete divergence from the Heath Ledger version of the character) who can’t live or die without her.
The rest of the diabolical gang that couldn’t go straight includes fire producing Diablo (Jay Hernandez), mercenary Slipknot (Adam Beach), samurai sword wielding Katana (Karen Fukuhara), despicable theif and murderer Boomerang (Jai Courtney), and monstrous Killer Croc (Adewale Akinnouye-Agbaje). Following the orders of Colonel Rick Flagg (Joel Kinnaman) they are fitted with a device that will blow up their heads if they disobey orders or try to escape.
Interwoven in this story is Flag’s love interest Dr. June Moone (the lovely Cara Delevingne), an archeologist who happens to get herself possessed by ancient goddess/witch Enchantress, who exhumes the spirit of her dead brother and begins some sort of spell that will lead to the extinction of the human race – and Waller and Flag are putting all their hopes on the Suicide Squad to stop it.
There is very little down time as one action scene after the other keeps the story moving at a rapid pace, except for a few well-placed flashbacks that only enhance the story and not stop it in its tracks. Just to keep things in perspective, Ben Affleck’s Batman/Bruce Wayne pops in a few times when we least expect him to sort of connect the DC dots and prepare us for what is going to happen in DC films to come.
Cinematographer Roman Vasyanov gets the bleak DC world right, and as we get deeper into the maelstrom the darker things seem to get, and these film noir visuals are only enhanced by Steven Price’s musical score and a soundtrack of great tunes. Oliver Scholl’s production design crosses the t’s and dots the i’s, giving everything a real sense of authenticity.
While Suicide Squad diverges from the Christopher Nolan vision of the Bat’s world, it actually pays homage to the darkness that is inherent not only to the Dark Knight of Gotham City but also those evil villains with whom he has more than a thing or two in common.
Deadshot observes in one scene, “And I’m the bad guy?” when he comments on a supposedly good guy doing something despicable in the name of justice and the right cause. The whole concept of Suicide Squad brings the true nature of the comic book DC world into perspective – sometimes very fine lines separate the good guys and bad guys – so much so that in some ways they are indistinguishable.
Besides Smith’s best role in years (and seemingly having a great time while doing it), the film establishes Margot Robbie as the star we always knew she could be after The Wolf of Wall Street. Her Harley Quinn is vulnerable, psychotic, sexy, and lethal – just the kind of girl Joker (and maybe some of us?) wants to bring home to Mom. I’m pretty convinced that this is going to be the go-to costume for young ladies this Halloween.
Ayer has brought Suicide Squad comic book creator John Ostrander’s vision to life in a vivid, intense, and highly entertaining package that is like a cinematic wink to an audience that gets it much better than the critics ever will. And for those of us who have always had a preference for DC over Marvel, we have finally been given the film we so richly deserve. Go see this and enjoy every entertaining minute of it, and don’t forget to stick around for the credits – you’ll be glad that you did.