Suicide Squad (2016)
Starring: Will Smith, Jared Leto, and Margot Robbie
After this year's highly divisive Batman vs Superman: Dawn of Justice, Warner Brothers and DC Studios keep the DC Cinematic Universe going with Suicide Squad. Picking up directly after the events of Batman vs Superman, the story finds the U.S. Government in the unenviable position of being unable to defend the country against attacks by what they call meta-humans. Meta-humans are, of course, humans with super powers or unique abilities. With so many meta-humans appearing, the government decides to recruit some unlikely assistants into their ranks.
Using various methods of blackmail and control to persuade people is nothing new to U.S. Intelligence Agent Amanda Waller (Viola Davis, in a great role). Working with Captain Rick Flag (Joel Kinnaman), Waller recruits some of the world's most notorious super villains to do their bidding in what is called Task Force X. From various lockups around the country, Flag and Waller round up Deadshot (Will Smith), Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie), Boomerang (Jai Courtney), Diablo (Jay Hernandez), and Killer Croc (Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje). The U.S. Government chips in Enchantress (Cara Delevingne), Slipknot (Adam Beach), and Katana (Karen Fukuhara) to help keep the new recruits in line.
When a meta-human threat appears in Midway City, this motley crew is called into action. They are told that if they do not carry out their mission as planned, the small explosive devices in their necks will be detonated, resulting in instant death. (Apparently, script writer and director David Ayers is a fan of Escape from New York.) Of course, nothing will go as planned as the new bad guys as good guys struggle to stay on the straight and narrow. When the government's true intentions are revealed to them, things go from bad to worse.
Suicide Squad is an interesting entry into the ever-growing superhero movie marketplace. The villains as heroes aspect gives it a unique quality that allows the "heroes" to struggle with doing the right thing when the right thing isn't necessarily what they've been asked to do.
Character development isn't the film's strong suit but there is a nice sense of comradarie between the main villains. Will Smith is his usual likeable self as Deadshot, the "man who never misses", and his action scenes are among the film's best. Margot Robbie's Harley Quinn is a wicked blend of humor, violence, and sexuality. Jared Leto's much-talked-about turn as The Joker occupies a scant amount of screen time compared to the heaps of publicity he's received for the role. Leto's definitely put his own spin on The Joker but I'm not sure I've seen enough of him to say if he's good in the role or not.
My main problem with the movie - and it's not a deal breaker - is that the squad members aren't really given that much to do. They do kill a large number of generic henchmen of sorts but the doldrums start to set in as the movie approaches its conclusion.
After the release of Batman vs Superman, there were reports that the studio reshot some scenes to insert more humor. If that's true, it wasn't done in overkill amounts. There are some one-liners that fall flat, usually Harley Quinn's, but the majority of the film's humor works in a low-key way.
Suicide Squad is a film best viewed with lowered expectations. It is not a top-tier superhero movie ala Superman or Batman, but it does give the DC Cinematic Universe and its characters some room to grow and breathe.
Trivia: Part of this film is set in Midway City. In the DC Comics, this was the home of the superhero couple Hawkman and Hawkgirl. (Source: The Internet Movie Database)