It’s become trendy on social media, and on Twitter especially, to refer to any and everything as “trash” if you dislike it. When word spread online that Suicide Squad was “trash,” I was disappointed that the highly anticipated DC Comics film hadn’t lived up to expectations – but I needed to see for myself. And I’m glad that I didn’t heed the naysayers. Although the movie was not without its flaws, it was far from the disaster everyone described.
The movie is built on an intriguing premise: What if Superman were bad? Who would stop him? This essential question is what drives Amanda Waller (Viola Davis, Lila & Eve), a high-level national security advisor who ascribes to the old adage that you fight fire with fire. She assembles a team of badass miscreants to keep on standby for any kamikaze mission, should the need arise. If things go south, this band of ragtag criminals and “meta-humans” will be easy to disavow. The Suicide Squad is comprised of Deadshot (Will Smith, Concussion), Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie, The Legend of Tarzan), Killer Croc (Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, Concussion), Boomerang (Jai Courtney, Insurgent), Diablo (Jay Hernandez, Bad Moms), and Slipknot (Adam Beach, Diablo).
Dr. Harley Quinn was a psychiatrist at Arkham Asylum, where she treated The Joker (Jared Leto, Dallas Buyers Club). She fell in love with the charming psychopath, and the pair unleashed a reign of terror across Gotham until Batman (Ben Affleck, Batman v. Superman) nabbed her, splitting the demented couple apart. Batman also reeled in Deadshot, an assassin whose pinpoint accuracy netted top dollar amongst underworld figures. Harley, Deadshot, Croc and Diablo share a prison, while Boomerang and Slipshot are apprehended later, rounding out the Squad.
Colonel Rick Flag (Joel Kinnamon, Run All Night) is Amanda Waller’s second in command, tasked with corralling the Squad as they did her bidding. He is in love with Dr. June Moon, an archaeologist whose body and spirit have become inhabited by a witch dubbed Enchantress (Cara Delevingne, Pan). Moon’s altar ego unleashes a sinister force, spurring Waller to call the Suicide Squad into action. I’ll end the plot summation here, as the storyline is perhaps the weakest aspect of the movie. The details of the Squad’s mission were muddled, and writer/director David Ayer (Fury) seemed to take an ad hoc approach to the storyline’s structure. The movie’s strength lies in the chemistry of its titular ensemble cast, namely Harley Quinn and Deadshot.
Robbie and Smith have undeniable chemistry, evidenced by their previous work in last year’s Focus, and again here. Robbie clearly relished the role, embodying the beautifully batty Harley with an endearing air of likability. I watched the Batman cartoon as a kid, and I remember Harley as an adoring nuisance to the Joker, a smitten pest. Here, she was every bit his equal and true love interest. Regarding Joker, there will be inevitable comparisons to Heath Ledger’s portrayal, but I encourage you to let each interpretation stand on its own. Leto did a fine job with the role, putting his own spin on it while maintaining the evil eccentricity we’ve come to expect.
The entire cast was excellent, but Smith and Robbie were the standouts. To put it simply, Deadshot is a bad ass MF. Smith is charismatic enough to carry his own Deadshot movie, and I hope DC is at least considering the notion. Viola Davis couldn’t turn in a bad performance if she tried, and she shone brightly in what could have been an average role. She was formidable in her own right, which was befitting of a character charged with keeping such a group in line. Was this the best comic book movie ever? No. In fact, I can understand why someone wouldn’t love it. But the disdain is totally overblown. Bolstered by the chemistry of its cast and the sheer amount of fun they seemed to be having at every moment, Suicide Squad made for a good time at the movies. Grade: B