This was an interesting film with an interesting concept. It has all the makings of a classic anti-hero superhero film. You take a bunch of recognizable villains from the DC world and bring them together in order to pursue a greater good; you know, because even the very worst villains are people, humans or creatures with human-like capacities. Every good superhero story has a villain that is humanized. As the audience we get why the villains are the way they are but we choose not to go as far as they are willing to go because we have a stronger, more intimate attachment to the greater good. We are given the choice to be more compassionate and very often, our heroes are endearing because they not only overcome great odds (and tragedies) but they manage to remain compassionate and charismatic as they go on to set wrongs to right.
Suicide Squad tells us a story of DC villains (Harley Quinn, Deadshot, Captain Boomerang, Joker, Killer Croc, El Diablo, Katana and Slipknot) getting together for the greater good. Amanda Waller creates this group of villains as a sort of contingency “hit squad” for the military to fight against meta-humans and future threats from other villains. It’s a great setup for getting us to know more about these villains that we have come across in the DC universe. Unfortunately, the film falls horribly short at getting us to know about the villains. Outside of the first impressions we get of these characters, we do not get to know more about their motivations, where they are from, what shapes their ideals, what are their plans, what is their relationship to our heroes, why should we care about them? We get brief background descriptions, mostly in bulletpoints, but not much more than that. We’re also given appearances by Batman and the Joker. The Batman appearance makes sense as it fits into the overall narrative and our understanding of how the Bat operates; quick, brief and efficient. The Joker on the other hand was just horrible. Jared Leto’s impression/interpretation of the Joker is so painful to watch and downright cringe worthy. There was no reason to care about anything the Joker does in the movie and considering Heath Ledger’s Joker, this one was just comical (and not in a good way).
Apart from the poor character development in the movie – the Enchantress was just ridiculous and looked like she belonged in the Mummy series and not in a Batman/Superman comic – the story telling was also very poor. In creating the Suicide Squad, Amanda Waller unleashes the Enchantress on the world and requires the squad to clean up the mess and to take the responsibility for the debacle. The government does nothing but panic and express shock or surprise but they never take any action. Waller takes action but only in creating more death and destruction. Enchantress’ brother is given no backstory whatsoever; we don’t even know what his motivations are or how he and his sister ended up in a clay doll. We see faceless creatures created by the Enchantress but we have no idea why or how they operate as part of her army; or why she even needs an army given the incredible power that she exhibits. We never really get to understand the extent of any of the characters’ abilities or capabilities nor do we get an idea as to who needs to be saved and why they deserved to be saved. The whole story is just cluttered and pretty much nonsensical.
But all isn’t lost. There is a dark comedy aspect to the film that does shine through. Of course Margot Robbie does a great interpretation of Harley Quinn that any audience can appreciate. She manages to come off as sexy, delirious and murderous, all at once; it’s quite funny to watch. There were opportunities for Jared Leto to play the Joker in a multifaceted and funny way as well but he seemed to be trying too hard to make the character be taken seriously; it just wasn’t funny. The other characters had lots of funny moments as well and I have to admit that I spent a good portion of the movie laughing. I think this is one of those films that will make for a good late night viewing on Netflix or as part of a future drinking game with some good friends. It’s good for some laughs for sure but I don’t think this movie should be winning any awards any time soon. As far as movies, it falls pretty short of being a blockbuster film. However, it really wins as a dark comedy worthy of re-watching; I just wouldn’t pony-up any more money on this film or any of its merchandise. It’s good for some laughs if you need one but ultimately, it’s a very forgettable telling of a story that should have been a classic. Hollywood needs better writers and story tellers. Who are these characters and why should we care about the Suicide Squad? The film never answers that question.