That’s one thing to keep in mind if you’re considering heading to the movies this weekend to see DC’s newest attempt at a comic blockbuster. It’s also not Green Lantern, which is another positive. It’s also not as long as Man of Steel, so you can exhale there as well.
But, if you’re thinking Christopher Nolan or Batman: The Animated Series, you can cease those dreams immediately, because while there are certainly some things to like about Suicide Squad, it’s messy, formulaic, and peaks less than a half-hour into its 124 minute running time.
Jared Leto’s Joker isn’t bad, but he’s attempting to play a character that Heath Ledger portrayed to uneasy perfection in The Dark Knight. Even if he’s great, he’s second best. It’s a no-win situation, except for the money he’ll make from the movie itself. He’s actually pretty good, but it’s impossible to escape Ledger’s shadow.
For me personally, all the ink across this film is distracting and unnecessary. I’m not a fan of tattoos, but here’s a Joker with a grill, with a teardrop tat, and with all sorts of designs across his body. It just doesn’t have the right feel, though I recognize that was the point. I like my Joker more Mark Hamill and less Paul Wall.
It doesn’t stop there, as nearly everyone in Suicide Squad is tatted up, with very few exceptions. As the gigantic Harley Quinn fan I’ve been since I was a child (you should see the shelf in my office), the new version isn’t the one I grew up with, but the story does do enough to explain why the differences are so drastic. There are also a few seconds that provide the nostalgia I wanted from the lovely Miss Quinzel. That brings us to Margot Robbie, who is by far the best thing about this movie.
Robbie is a superstar in the film, and her star is about to leave our orbit. She’s gorgeous, she’s talented, she’s not afraid to play a character some actresses would look down upon, and her Harley Quinn is captivating, sexy, and impossible to dislike. The costume, the makeup, everything about her is top notch. I’m always going to be partial to the classic Harley, but Robbie sold me on this one. She is just terrific.
There’s more depth to the role than I expected from the trailers, and it was immediately apparent why DC sees much more in Harley’s future. Whenever Margot isn’t on screen, you want her on screen. This goes for anything she’s in at this point, even if it’s a bathtub in The Big Short.
The story is somewhat weak, with the origins of our villainous heroes and heroines being the most intriguing thing Suicide Squad offers up, and those tales are told within the first act. Will Smith’s Deadshot is another highlight, and we see more of the guy that used to break the box office in this film. You’ll remember some of the blockbusters in this performance, for better and for worse. There’s some Hancock, some Men in Black, some Wild Wild West, it’s all here to be viewed and appreciated.
Viola Davis plays the movie’s double-edged sword, as her character creates the Suicide Squad, but is also willing to blow any member’s head off for daring to defy her. The actual villain is the Enchantress, and here is where the movie fell of a cliff for me. I didn’t care one bit about the backstory and the circumstances that put her at the center of the film’s plot. It’s more over-the-top than I needed, and I didn’t have any emotional investment in the entire reason the group is kicking ass and taking names.
I’ve enjoyed Joel Kinnaman in other roles, but this was not his finest hour, as his dialogue comes across like it’s being read off cue cards, with inflection in improper locales. He plays the movie’s relatable hero, but the performance is off. It just wasn’t the right fit. Most of the rest of the cast did a fine job, with one true standout.
It was far more entertaining to watch the squad interact with one another between various fight scenes than actually engage in battle, especially when Harley Quinn was in the spotlight. One thing Suicide Squad did realize was the same thing you’ll know very quickly as you watch it: This is Margot Robbie’s movie. It’s her DC arrival, and it’s just an introduction to what’s to come from her. While there are easter eggs and cameos and larger issues at play in the movie, the fact is Harley Quinn made it both tolerable and enjoyable.
This is a beautiful movie, and one where 3D is actually an asset, though by no means is it a requirement. The colors are vivid and the artistic style is impressive, but as good as it looks, it sounds even better. This soundtrack is absolutely awesome, featuring a wide variety of licensed tracks you’ll know and love, and when you leave the theater, the two things you’ll think of are Harley Quinn and the music. The album will sell well, and it’s the best of its kind since Guardians of the Galaxy. There’s a mix of past and present, and each selection matches its respective scene perfectly.
There’s a great movie inside of Suicide Squad, but it’s trapped within about five mediocre movies that are rushed, crammed together, and jammed into one package. Precious little is fleshed out, and the film is basically on rails, taking the group from one action scene to another. It’s a video game with no ability to move off the path and explore. You’ll want to see more of this world and much more of some of these characters, but you’ll wish there were a few less of them.
The problem for this collection of characters is in their lack of name recognition. The Avengers can get away with a crowded cast, because we’ve gotten to know all those people in other movies. Here, outside of a few, the vast majority of moviegoers won’t have a clue why they should care. There’s no time to get most of them to a respectable degree of importance. Guardians of the Galaxy, despite mainstream obscurity, didn’t have the problem, because the quantity of characters was relatively small. There’s just too much to process in Suicide Squad, and the mediocrity of the main plot makes it a disappointment.
Margot Robbie’s performance is worth the price of admission by itself, and if you’re cool buying a ticket to a C- (5 out of 10ish) popcorn superhero movie, you could do worse. Harley Quinn is a special character, and it’s excellent to see her on the big screen.
I just wish it were in a better movie.
This one could have been so much more than it is. It’s not a disaster, but it doesn’t live up to its promise. It’s an R rating caught in a PG-13 package, and whereas Deadpool embraced the edge, Suicide Squad only puts one foot in the water. It doesn’t want to alienate, though no children should see it, just due to disturbing sequences that might scare them. It’s not a dirty film, but it’s a gritty film.
If only it was a good film.
I’m @GuyNamedJason, but just call me Mistah J. Appreciate it, Puddin.