Is ‘Suicide Squad’ Really That Bad? Our Review
For all the back and forth between Marvel and DC Comics and who does comic-book movies better, remember one thing: These flicks are made to be just good old popcorn fun. Big, bold, lots of action, some laughs, some scares – and on this, Suicide Squad delivers. It’s just in the finer points, it falls a little short.
Writer/director David Ayer, who is best known for his gritty crime drama End of Watch, handles the action chores with aplomb, with a pretty action-packed final climactic scene. But one of the main issues is the convoluted story. Ayer may have bitten off a little more than he could chew, trying to pack too many details into a two-hour chunk.
This #Squad, the “worst of the worst,” are meta-humans, who – if you can control their wayward, criminal behavior – would be ideal to take down even more dangerous super entities, ready to destroy Earth. Or would they? Half of Suicide Squad is spent watching the bad guys bucking against the authority who want them to be good guys. Plus, are there really any good guys? It seems even the government agent Amanda Waller (the always-good Viola Davis) bringing them together has her own shady motives. Only the military leader, Capt. Rick Flag (Joel Kinnaman), seems to be on the up and up.
Ayer does his best, though, to bring these folks to life, and there are a few characters that truly steal the show. Much has been hyped about Margot Robbie’s performance as hot mess Harley Quinn, and thankfully, it’s justified. Robbie has way too much fun playing bubble-headed crazy with a bat, but there are moments of pathos that cross her pasty white face – and it’s those moments you notice.
Will Smith also does a nice job as Deadshot, the hitman with pinpoint accuracy who is conflicted by his work because he’s also a dad to a precocious 11-year-old daughter. You definitely wish — and more than once — that you could watch movies just about these characters. In fact, the whole cast really delivers, including Jared Leto as the Joker. His take on the iconic character is definitely more gangsta and a tad over the top, but you can’t take your eyes off him and are left wanting more.
The lackluster critical response for Suicide Squad could also be chalked up to bad timing. For the anti-heroes banding together to fight a common enemy, we already have the superb Guardians of the Galaxy. For sarcastic, raunchy, sticking-it-to the man mentality, there’s Deadpool. Damn, it’s like those Marvel people have a better movie for everything.
If we are to compare Marvel and DC Comics and why Marvel seems to have a better success rate, it comes down to tone. Marvel has found their rhythm with the characters, combining humor with action, but DC Comics is still trying to figure out which way they want to go. DC’s universe seems like it’s inherently darker, broodier than Marvel, which is the way Christopher Nolan went with his Dark Knight trilogy, but now DC seems to be having trouble owning that.
Most critics are at least giving Suicide Squad the benefit of being a better film than Batman v Superman, but there have been reports Warner Bros. was nervous after BvS flopped. “A key concern for Warners executives was that Suicide Squad didn’t deliver on the fun, edgy tone promised in the strong teaser trailer for the film,” says The Hollywood Reporter. “So while [David] Ayer pursued his original vision, Warners set about working on a different cut.” That’s a cut we’d like to see (maybe for the Blu-ray), but let’s hope things will trend upwards for DC with the upcoming Wonder Woman and Justice League movies.
Ultimately, though, Suicide Squad doesn’t really deserve the slamming it’s taking from the critics because the bar that has been set so high by the comic-book gods above is almost too difficult to reach. Let’s just say, if you are fan of the comic or a fan of having fun in the theater, then Suicide Squad should be right up your alley.