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Movie Review: Suicide Squad

I would have preferred a different tag line for Suicide Squad, the DCCU's Summer blockbuster action-fest featuring a team that is 90% villain. Instead of 'Worst Heroes Ever' I would have preferred 'Get Ready to Root for the Bad Guys' because that's what this film really tries to do.

Suicide Squad pretty much looked at the existing format of the DCCU: dark, overly serious, and flailing in attempts to convey psuedo-psychology messages in attempts to be deep, and snubbed it's nose at them. Much what you would expect from the misfit characters who headline the film.

I apologize in advance, because it is very hard to not draw comparisons between this movie and Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy. These are in no way the same kind of movie, or similar in approach. However I'd be lying if I felt that director David Ayer didn't draw inspiration from Marvel's own Misfit Toys. From the attitude of the film to the soundtrack used, it had a very similar energy.

This movie is not big in story, but like Guardians and Fox's Deadpool it doesn't need to be. This is a character driven film, and a film about the collection of these villains coming together in team dynamics. And because of that, this movie succeeds in spades.

You have Deadshot, an assassin who is doing his dirty deeds to build a better life for his daughter, Harley Quinn, the Joker's gal pal and resident maniac, Killer Croc, a hideously deformed man who has been tormented his whole life for his appearance, El Diablo, a former gang banger who is trying to atone for accidentally murdering his wife and kids, Captain Boomerang, Slipknot, Katana, and Rick Flagg, the US Navy SEAL who is tasked with keeping these wackos in line. If it seems like I glossed over the last few, it's for a reason that I'll get to later.

The premise is that Amanda Waller, a Homeland Security Agent excellently depicted by Viola Davis, wants to covertly use a team of incarcerated metahumans or near-metahumans for tasks against alien or superpowered threats. One of the team's members goes rogue, the Enchantress, and this leads to the team being deployed to stop her from wreaking havoc on mankind.

Simple premise with a very fun and action-packed execution. We needed nothing more.

The characters are all well portrayed, perhaps none more so than Margot Robbie's Harley Quinn. She nails the chaotic nature of the character with little quips here and there to remind us just how intelligent Harleen is. Will Smith nails Deadshot in feeling and personality. Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje (no, I will not be writing that again) is entertaining as Killer Croc, even if his character has very few lines. But Croc is a character of action, not words, and he succeeds there. Jay Hernandez plays El Diablo in a manner that you actually feel for him, despite his obvious nefarious past.

If anything this movie suffers from character bloat. Some people may disagree with me here, but I'm going to be the one to say it. I think this movie would have been better without Katana, Captain Boomerang, and even the Joker.

Yes, the Joker was not needed (or wanted it honestly felt like). Captain Boomerang is a long time Squad member from the comics, so I'm sure other comic fans would have been upset if he wasn't included, but he contributed nothing to the film. He had a few funny one-liners and cheap laughs with his pink unicorn fetish, but that's it. During the film's climax he's literally left out of a handful of big moments and often overlooked in the big fight. Katana fills a role some may think of as necessary, but I feel her role would be better used later. She says little, has a few cool fight moments, and a hastily explained backstory. Nothing major, moving on.

I understand that they need disposable bodies. It IS the Suicide Squad and I would be disappointed if people didn't die. However to have characters who mean zero to the film live when they did nothing and meant nothing and literally took up space felt like they just wanted to arbitrarily cram as many big name villains as they could on screen.

But let's address Joker. Jared Leto is a great actor, now that that is established I was unimpressed with his Joker. His performance with it was adequate, but honestly compared to Ledger's it lacked menace and unpredictability. Yes, Dark Knight and Suicide Squad are two very different films. Yes, they are both different kinds of Jokers. That doesn't de-facto mean Leto's was awesome. There's very little of what I, as a life long Batman reader, consider to be Joker. His relationship with Harley is very different than the comics, to the point where I'd say it almost changes Joker as a character.

Oh and the amount of gratuitous slow-mo action and one particular overly-dramatized slow-mo end scene were cringe and groan worthy.

Not everything needs to be like the comics, but the best CBMs tend to show great respect to their source material. Suicide Squad does this, but in some ways doesn't. Which I think prevents it from being great. Having said that, Suicide Squad is very good. The action and characters are awesome, which is exactly what we needed. This is DC's best film to date. If I had to compare it to Marvel, I'd say it isn't as good as Winter Soldier, Civil War, Guardians of the Galaxy or Avengers, but it is better than the 'average' Marvel film. I'd say I enjoyed this a bit more than Ant-Man. Solid B+, definitely recommend.