In the midst of all the buzz surrounding David Ayer’s “Suicide Squad,” it’s becoming increasingly difficult to maintain an unbiased attitude before actually seeing the movie. Whether your excitement has reached unparalleled heights due to the ridiculously entertaining trailers that started hitting the web a year ago, beginning at San Diego Comic Con, or if you had your hopes ruthlessly dashed by the slew of bad reviews from critics this week, I still urge you to go into this movie with an attitude that allows you to “view, THEN review.” That being said, I can honestly say that “Suicide Squad” isn’t a perfect movie. It’s not even a great movie. It has glaring flaws that are hard to overlook. But damn if it isn’t full of what I come to love and expect of all movies in the comic book genre: pure entertainment.
Starting the story in a post-death of Superman world (if you haven’t seen Batman v. Superman yet, and you’re trying to see Suicide Squad first, you had that coming), Ayer gives us the first taste of the fun that was promised in the trailers, as the main members of the Squad are introduced in their incarcerated states, from Will Smith’s Deadshot, a heartless assassin who doubles as a loving father, to the lovably deranged Harley Quinn aka the Joker’s girlfriend, wonderfully played by Margot Robbie, with both characters dealing with an obnoxious prison guard. These characters and their interactions with everyone else are what make the movie highly fun to watch, which is maintained all throughout the film.
Cut to stone cold government official, Amanda Waller, in a frighteningly commanding performance from Viola Davis, running down each member of her proposed Task Force X (aka the Suicide Squad)- a team of super-villains forcibly contracted by the government to go on black ops missions to defend the world from the new outbreak of metahuman threats, complete with brief flashbacks of each character’s special talents and how they were captured. It’s scenes like this which, although tend to be as cliche as it gets, drives that fun component we came to expect from this installment in the DC Extended Universe.
The flaws of the movie start to show itself when it becomes apparent just who or what the Squad is fighting against. The trailers were purposely vague, as not to reveal who the antagonist ultimately is, and when we find out the identity of said antagonist, a slight feeling of disappointment sets in. Not that is doesn’t make sense for the plot, but this was clear misdirection from the marketing of the movie, as we expected a villain that was worth all that secrecy displayed in the trailers. Jared Leto’s Joker was never meant to be the main villain of the movie, but Leto’s interpretation of the character was entertaining enough to get us to want to see more of him than the actual main villain, especially when we are treated to a flashback scene featuring Joker and Harley trying to escape from Batman, evoking most of our beloved memories of Batman: The Animated Series.
When the Squad finally engages in combat, we are treated to the gleeful violence we all wanted from the get go, and it leaves us wanting to see more gritty fight scenes. The rest of the movie, however, splits time with trying to show the rushed bonding that the characters needed to establish earlier in the story, and more fight scenes, and that’s where I started to understand the inconsistencies critics were talking about. It suggests that all those humorous reshoots from earlier in the year took the place of scenes that actually needed to be there structurally. I trust the guy who wrote “Training Day” way too much to think that those decisions were made on his own, without interference from the studio.
The strengths of the movie come with the character performances. So much emphasis is given to Smith’s Deadshot and Robbie’s Harley, that I wanted to see more of the small, but very entertaining samples of Jai Courtney’s Aussie hooligan Captain Boomerang, and Karen Fukuhara’s Katana, who wields a mystical sword that can captures its victims’ souls. Jay Hernandez’s El Diablo gives you the “hell yeah” scene of the film, and every time you see or hear Killer Croc, played by Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, he almost always gives you a “Thank God he’s on our side” moment. Cara Delevingne as the ridiculously powerful Enchantress is the biggest question mark coming into the movie, but the questions are answered halfway in as to what her character’s importance is.
Despite the fact that so much of the movie’s great moments were given away in the trailers, which definitely effected audience reaction moments in the theater, there was still enough good moments that made the movie overall worth watching. Sometimes we forget that movies based on comic books weren’t necessarily meant to be critically acclaimed masterpieces (Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy spoiled us all), but rather, to give us the same kind of gratification we sought when we read all those comics back in the day- to just have a good time. David Ayer’s “Suicide Squad,” even with all its flaws, delivers that unhindered good time.