– Paulie Spiceflow –
What happens when you try to shove 9 comic book characters and their origins stories into one movie? What happens when all your dialogue seems to come from Vin Diesel movies? What happens when you try to be funny when you’re not? Suicide Squad. In a highly risky move, DC Comics decided to go in a new direction away from its epic but gritty Justice League flagship (Man of Steel, Batman vs. Superman). Suicide Squad blends Quentin Tarantino with a little Deadpool and Watchmen to make a colorful, violent comic book movie experience. While it came off as painfully cheesy to me, a large number of moviegoers enjoyed it.
The movie begins with an introduction into our new universe full of metahumans. Superman is recently deceased and the world is coming to grips with the existence of super beings with amazing powers. Amanda Waller (Viola Davis), wants to build a spec ops unit of metahumans to combat the potential threats that are coming our way. Bruce Wayne shared similar sentiments at the end of Dawn of Justice. Of course, it didn’t occur to Waller to try and recruit good guys first before conscripting prisoners.
Up to this point, every single threat to Earth in the DC Universe has come from Krypton. Where is all this preemptive fear coming from? To create a new threat, the movie introduces Enchantress (Cara Delvingne) an ancient metahuman who managed to live on through a doll. She escaped when the inexplicably beautiful archeologist June Moone stumbled upon her doll in the jungles of Central America.
So, just as Waller tries to persuade the Pentagon of new rising threats from metahumans, one appears. Speak of the Devil! Although maybe it isn’t such a surprise. As it turns out, Waller is directly responsible for freeing Enchantress and bringing about the apocalypse. Whoops.
Enter Deadshot (Will Smith), Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie), Killer Croc (Adewale Akinnouye-Agbage), Diablo (Jay Hernandez), and Boomerang (Jai Courtney). All five are serving life sentences in Waller’s secret prison. We get a glimpse of their origin stories, in particular Deadshot and Harley Quinn. Through her origin story, we get our first look at Jared Leto’s Joker. Gone is the ugly terrorist immortalized by Heath Ledger. Instead, the producers wanted to make the Joker a sexy crime lord then give him his Bonnie in Harley Quinn. Never mind that it deviates widely from the comic book versions of the characters. Jared Leto definitely sold the crazy part but his version of the Joker isn’t an agent of chaos. He is merely an eccentric gangster and serial killer. Some suggest he is not the original Joker but one of the Robins gone crazy. Either way, I prefer the chaos-loving hideous psychopath Joker of Heath Ledger.
Another character complaint: Harley Quinn’s character abandons the tragic woman from the comics in favor of a Bonnie and Clyde type. In the animated series and many of the comics, Joker never really shows much affection or devotion to Harley. She is merely an amusing play toy, nothing more. Since the relationship is one-directional and abusive, Harley is more of a battered woman still hopelessly devoted to her abusive husband than a bad ass strong female character. In other words, she is meant to be a tragic character, not Bonnie. It is another example of the writers over at DC altering the characters.
Anyway, the motley crew of killers are released to help fight the Enchantress threat (sort of). Some of the action is pretty awesome while some is hidden by bright flashing lights and frantic movement.
The dialogue is pretty low-brow with plenty of threats and posturing, perfect for those who love comic book movies but are tired of the lofty idealism. There is plenty of violence, action, explosions, auto-tune, and an amazing light show. Director David Ayer also included a kick ass soundtrack, with classic rock and rap playing over just about every scene. For Tarantino fans, there is plenty of romanticizing of killers and gangsters. My guess is this movie has a pretty solid fan base out there.
So did they pull it off? Is Suicide Squad the next Deadpool?
Well, if you have ADHD, yes it worked. By shoving 9 characters and their backstories into a 2 hour movie, you never get a chance to get to know any of them that well. Since all of them are such unique and interesting people, it is sad we only really get a few minutes of them here and there. This doesn’t help for those of us who have no idea who these characters are. Okay, I know Harley Quinn and Joker but I know nothing of the others. Unless you are a serious comic book fanatic, you come into the movie wondering where all these weirdos came from. The movie relies heavily on the all star cast to bring out the most in these anonymous villains. It also didn’t help that the writers throw in Slipknot and Katana, two more characters I have never heard of before.
Some of the scenes are chopped up so bad, it feels like you are moving instantly from one panel to the next without any transition. One of the great advantages of the moving pictures is you can show some of those transitions. David Ayer and Co. decided to bring abrupt shifts and short scenes from the comics to their movie instead of trying to adapt to the medium. It is more of a music video than a movie.
It is also pretty obvious the producers wanted the re-shoot to make it funnier. Deadpool killed it in theaters earlier this year, and many in the DC realm wondered if its dark, dry, self-deprecating humor was the new fad in superhero movies. Well they tried and yes there are some great lines in the movie, but is it as funny as Deadpool? Not. Even. Close. The movie feels a little like a parody of itself at times but you never get that full self-deprecating, breaking of the fourth wall moment.
How does it stack up against the competition?
It is not as good as Deadpool, even though it had twice the budget. I enjoyed it a tiny bit more than Batman vs. Superman but that isn’t saying much. Captain America: Civil War was better. So far, the critics hate Suicide Quad but customer reviews are pretty solid with a 3.8 on Rotten Tomatoes. It also raked in an impressive $135 million in the first weekend. Including the Joker and Harley Quinn probably kicked up the hype for the first weekend. The all star cast helps as well. However, I’m not sure whether the momentum will continue. It is a half-decent comic book movie but I don’t see it blowing up the bank.
Paulie Spiceflow is a regular contributor, movie reviewer and unbelievable smart ass. He prides himself on his excessive knowledge of movies, TV, books, internet memes, and pop cultural references. During college, he spent minimal hours studying but took full-advantage of the free internet and lack of bills to broaden his knowledge in numerous genres including spoof comedy, fantasy, Shakespeare, military history, zombies, and cartoons.