Some Thoughts on Suicide Squad
Amidst the poor reviews for Suicide Squad, I made my way to the theater to see the movie for myself. Suicide Squad was a movie I had been anticipating for some time now. When it was first announced, I kind of thought of it as being similar to Guardians of the Galaxy. That movie was a quirky, lesser known Marvel series that I thought would do well, but never thought it would have the success that it ended up scoring. Suicide Squad could be in that same orbit, as it is a quirky comic series focused on bad guys trying to do some good if only to reduce their sentences in prison. Mix in a colorful cast of characters with some funny banter and it had potential hit written all over it.
Long story short if you are not into reading a bunch of my ramblings, I found the movie to be an okay experience. It never reaches the lofty expectations that many thought it would meet, but not bottoming out as much as my expectations had dropped to after Batman vs. Superman and the early reviews on Suicide Squad.
The cast of villains assembled for this version of the Suicide Squad is inspired, if not the cast I remembered from the few times I picked up the Suicide Squad comics back in the 1990’s. While Captain Boomerang was one I do remember being in the Squad, along with Deadshot, the rest seem to be new additions that came in later editions of the book. The big score here would have to be Harley Quinn, who is all the rage in the DC Universe. DC has been marketing her everywhere, from their DC Super Heroines line for kids all the way up to a handful of books launched in the new Rebirth launch. Slipknot was probably the dumbest character to include, but knowing the control mechanisms behind keeping the Squad in-line, I knew he would probably be the sacrificial lamb of the bunch and yes, he was.
I did enjoy the introduction to all the characters through their short vignettes that gives a bit of their origins, along with how they ended up incarcerated. Each of these short tales were highly inspired, but ended up taking a large chunk of the movie, eating into valuable time that could of been spent on expanding the paper thin plot that drives Suicide Squad.
Yes, the plot and general way the movie was cut together cause the biggest issues hindering Suicide Squad from being a successful start to this franchise and a turnaround for the general malaise that has stifled these DC movies. We are introduced to our main heavy early on, as she starts as a part of the Squad, the Enchantress. She is a 6000 year old sorceress that embodies a modern age scientist. While she does not sound like a handful, she ends up being a plot breaking character. She can travel great distances with a whim of thought, conjure spirits out of the ether, create complex mechanisms that can destroy civilization and generally can be thought as someone that can end existence as we know it. Knowing all that, I immediately thought that there would be no way to take this threat down and to be honest, there shouldn’t have been a way to take her down. She should have been able to destroy the Squad and the rest of humanity without breaking a sweat, but instead, these points are conveniently forgotten by everyone making Suicide Squad.
Suicide Squad also suffers from a lack of direction, as the movie jumps around, cutting from one point to the next, never really stopping to explain to the casual movie-goer as to what the hell is actually going on. Sure, I got a general grasp of the so called plot, but my wife and son seemed to be baffled as to what the movie was actually trying to convey. The fact that they forgot about even the larger details says volumes about why reviews may have been on the negative side.
And then we have The Joker. Jared Leto’s performance as The Joker is a new take on the character and one that I found to be a highlight of the movie. He is less general homicidal maniac and played more as a heavy duty gangster that just happens to be big time crazy. His infusion of zany, cool and collective make for one of the best Joker portrayals ever. Yes, even better than Heath Ledger’s Joker. The delivery of dialogue, attitude and machismo made for a great twist on an old character and I look forward to seeing more of him as you see very little over the course of two hours. Yes, Joker shows up quite a bit in the advertising for Suicide Squad, but he ends up being more of a glorified cameo than actual integral part of the movie. Some might say I am being overzealous with this one, but I doubt he ends up taking more than 10 minutes of actual screen time throughout the movie.
And yet, I found myself enjoying enough of Suicide Squad, that I think people should go see the movie. Is it great – no. But is it as bad as many of the critics are saying – far from it. It is maligned, disjointed and downright confusing, but the characters are fun and interact well with one another and there is a movie in here screaming to be found. Maybe catch a matinee or wait for it to hit Redbox but I think there is enough in here for people to find some entertainment and the promise of something more down the line.