Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Movie Review: Suicide Squad (2016)

Suicide Squad - Written and Directed by Dayid Ayer; Starring Will Smith, Margot Robbie, Cara Delevingne, Common, Ike Barinholtz, Jai Courtney, Jared Leto, Jay Hernandez, Joel Kinnaman, Viola Davis.

By Kenny Howell

Well, at least it wasn't mopey Superman for three hours.

DC has had a problem lately with thinking that since Batman was great at being dark and brooding, that every super hero movie they do has to be dark and brooding.

But that obviously doesn't work with all superheroes, and they are trying to rectify that with Suicide Squad. They just tried way way too hard.

The way the film kicks off is pretty cool, as we see governmental ring leader Amanda Waller, played by Viola Davis (Prisoners), introduce us to this group of baddies that is going to fight covert missions against even worse people.

We meet Deadshot, played here by Will Smith (Focus), an excellent marksman who has never missed a shot and kills people for money.

Then we move on to really the star of the show, Harley Quinn, the Joker's super crazy girlfriend, played by Margot Robbie (Whiskey Tango Foxtrot) having a ton of fun.

Those openings are fun, stylish, if maybe a tad overkill, but pretty slick. Problem is there are a couple more members, and none of them are nearly as interesting as Deadshot and Harley, partially because you have Smith and Robbie, two people that ooze charm, playing those roles. And partially because the characters just aren't all that interesting. You have a witch, a crocodile man, a guy who has a boomerang, and someone who can shoot fire. The movie treats them that way as well, after Deadshot and Harley's big entrance, we rush through the other members, granted, for good reason. But they also try to fill in some of their backstories way later in the film that sort of brings things to a halt.

The witch, Enchantress (Cara Delvingne), has taken over the body of a doctor, but she went and lost her heart, which is in Waller's possession. Despite being thousands of years old, she is not as deadly without her heart, and she wakens her brother to help get it back.

With her heart, she is nearly unstoppable, so Waller enlists the help of this new suicide squad to stop her, led by the best soldier America has to offer, Rick Flag. Waller implants something in their bodies that she can blow up at any time if they deviate from the plan or try to escape. Their reward for going through with the mission is they get time off their prison sentence or other perks.

Muddling the plans a bit is the Joker, this time portrayed by Jared Leto (Dallas Buyers Club), wants Harley back. And Harley, being the abused woman that has been brainwashed by him, desperately wants to get back to him.

There were rumors that Suicide Squad had some reshoots because of the bad response to Batman V. Superman: Dawn of Justice, and they tried to fun it up a bit because Deadpool earlier this year was such a big hit as well. I applaud the effort for trying to make it fun, something comic book movies should be (though not always I understand). Problem is, it is just too much. The soundtrack is non stop in this film, with songs ranging from Creedence Clearwater Revival to Queen to Kanye West to Eminem. There are portions that feel like there is a song a minute.

It matches the overkill of some of the other character, specifically the Joker. Jared Leto is actually pretty good, but there are so many bells and whistles added to his get up it hides the pretty good work he did. Killer Croc is also supposed to be some of the comic relief, but it seems so forced. By the end, the story kind of falls apart, and like they are grasping at straws a bit to see what works.

But, hold it, there is some good. Robbie being the biggest part of that good. It was only a matter of time before Harley made her way onto the big screen, and Robbie seems like the perfect person to play it. Will Smith is also Will Smith, and there is a reason he is Will Smith. David Ayer does create some pretty exciting set pieces, and you can't help but have fun with Joker's henchman. And I want more Ike Barinholtz as the sadistic prison guard that wears tiget t-shirts under a white suit when he goes out to the club. He was great.

I know it is kind of hypocritical to say all the time that DC movies should go farther while also telling them to reign it in a bit. There is a balance to be had there. I don't even think Deadpool really got that for Marvel. However, Suicide Squad is the perfect example of that. At least they are headed toward finding that balance.

Rating: **

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