As the saying goes, a hero is only as good as his or her villain, and “Suicide Squad” — the latest entry in the DC Comics cinematic universe — is filled with villains parading as heroes, with nary a good enemy around for them to combat.
And much like the Suicide Squad itself, there’s a lot of good within all the bad.
It’s a film filled with interesting characters and all the possibility in the world that ultimately gets bogged down by a generic villain and pointless tasks for the team to accomplish. And it’s a shame, because the movie has a hip, modern style and a strong cast with some standout performances.
“Suicide Squad” has a lot to accomplish in its 2-hour run time — putting the band together, providing origins for many of the team members, establishing the villain and tying it into the greater universe. That’s a big task, and writer/director David Ayer nails some of it. The characters and their introductions are super cool, but the plot slogs along leading up to a battle with a boring, oddly-gyrating villain in the Enchantress (Cara Delevingne), who is also the sort-of girlfriend of Suicide Squad leader Rick Flag (Joel Kinnaman).
Flag is tasked with heading up a team of the worst of the worst — convicts buried deep in an ultra-secure prison. They are recruited by shady government agent Amanda Waller (a powerful Viola Davis, of course) in the event that a new super person comes around who is on the other side of the moral compass.
The standout performances come from the biggest stars in the film: Margot Robbie’s twisted Harley Quinn and Will Smith’s assassin Deadshot.
Quinn is the girlfriend of The Joker (Jared Leto, giving an intense performance in an ancillary role). Robbie fully immerses herself in the character, with highly expressive eyes and a wicked baseball bat. Her lunacy is disturbing fun, and it’s not surprising that there’s talks of a film focusing on her.
Smith is in classic form — tough but likable — as a contract assassin balancing between using his killer pinpoint accuracy and being a good father.
Deadshot is the heart of this team as one of its more sane members — which says a lot with this crew. The group is rounded out by felons Diablo (Jay Hernandez), Killer Croc (Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje) and Captain Boomerang (Jai Courtney), as well as Katana (Karen Fukuhara), a hero brought in by Flag.
The rest of these characters have their moments, but there’s only so much screen time to go around as the team battles Enchantress and her literally faceless horde of generic soldiers.
“Suicide Squad” is already breaking records for August ticket sales, and that’s a positive thing. These characters and this premise have so much potential that a lot of the problems here could be fixed in a sequel. If there were a better villain — pick from one of the countless awesome evil characters running around in the DC Universe — this franchise could be a huge success in more than just box office numbers.
Directed by David Ayer
Starring Margot Robbie, Will Smith, Joel Kinnaman, Viola Davis