August 6, 2016 -- The trailers for this film didn't look very good, and the early reviews were a bummer, but I decided to go see it anyway. Guess what? It is not as bad as some people are saying it is. Sure, it isn't as good as “Deadpool,” but it isn't as bad as “Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice,” either.
There has been a run of disappointing action films since “Deadpool.” I was really disappointed in “Star Trek Beyond” because I was expecting big things from director Justin Linn and co-writer-actor Simon Pegg. It helped that I was not expecting anything at all from “Suicide Squad.”
Also, I am not a fan of these characters, although I had seem some of them before. The only thing I knew about the Suicide Squad itself is what I saw of it in the “Arrow” series on the CW network, which has some of the same Suicide Squad characters, like Deadshot, Harley Quinn and Amanda Waller.
These characters are quite different, and not all for the better, in the movie. The real star of this movie is Margot Robbie (“The Legend of Tarzan”) who plays Harley Quinn, a mercurial psychopathic killer, who is also somewhat charming. It is Robbie's captivating performance, along with the reliable and amiable Will Smith, who plays Deadshot, that makes this film worth watching.
The biggest disappointment for me was the Amanda Waller character, played by Viola Davis (“The Help”) who is a truly great actress. In this film she is saddled with a murderous, ruthless, grim, one-dimensional character who exhibits almost no humanity. When you have an actor with almost unlimited capabilities like Viola Davis, it is a sin to saddle her with a character like this. I think I know why this was done, but I don't agree with the decision.
The idea of this movie is that, with the advent of meta-humans (mutants with extraordinary powers) you need a team of meta humans of your own to combat this new threat. This takes place right after the time line of “Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice,” between the death of Superman and his resurrection.
Amanda Waller persuades government officials to let her form the Suicide Squad project, despite the dangers of trying to control a bunch of unstable super criminals. As you would expect, it doesn't go as planned. An ancient witch who possesses the body of archaeologist June Moone (played by Cara Delevingne of “Paper Towns”) slips away from Waller's control and threatens to destroy all of mankind.
The scenes showing Waller losing control of the witch made no sense. It looks like there may have been some missing scenes that better linked these events to the rest of the story. Maybe connecting scenes were cut to make the movie shorter (the film runs a little over two hours). Films are sometimes cut shorter so that they can be shown more times each day in each theater.
There are a series of battles as the Suicide Squad moves toward the big showdown with the powerful witch. The squad is accompanied by a group of soldiers, led by Colonel Rick Flag (Joel Kinnaman of the 2014 remake of “RoboCop”). Even though Flag has the power of life and death via remote control bombs over the Suicide Squad, he realizes he must appeal to the humanity of the squad members in order to complete the mission.
The action scenes are well done in the film, but it is the characters, and their stories who make the film work, especially the four main characters, Harley Quinn, Deadshot, Flag and El Diablo (Jay Hernandez of “Crazy/Beautiful”) a tortured meta human who can turn into a raging inferno. I also liked the crocodile-like meta human known as Killer Croc (Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje of “The Bourne Identity”).
The characters in this film, which include brief appearances by Batman and The Flash, are based on popular D.C. Comics characters. So far, the recent attempts of the “D.C. Extended Universe” films have failed to match the quality and success of the “Marvel Universe” films, upon which they are clearly modeled. I do hope they succeed, but so far, they are falling short.
Thanks to some interesting characters and some Deadpool-inspired gallows humor, this is a fun film to watch, but not as much fun as it should have been. It has a number of problems, some of which I mentioned in this review, but it does manage to rise a bit above the usual Hollywood mediocrity. It rates a C+.
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