Suicide Squad Review: Not Bad Enough

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DC has hit a bit of a slump since the turn of the decade. In the shadow of Marvel, the comic book rival’s films have paled in comparison to the snarky infusion that’s kept even the dullest Marvel films afloat. Suicide Squad should be the film that pulls DC out of the gutter. A group of supervillains forced to fight for the government to lower their prison sentence is a relatively unique concept in the world of superhero movies. Sadly, the film sticks to the proven staples of the genre. A beam of light shoots into the sky, threatening the planet, with the only hope being a team of remarkable misfits. It’s the same old tricks, only DC hasn’t pulled them off nearly as often as their rivals.

Yet, Suicide Squad does have one wholly unique card up its sleeve. The one and only Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie) makes her long awaited debut to live-action, and the results make most of the film’s missteps worth it. The girlfriend of the Joker (Jared Leto) vibrantly and faithfully leaps to the big screen thanks to Robbie’s committed, joyful take on the character. She’s the source of what makes this film a far cry from Batman v Superman‘s super dour meditation on superhero ideologies this past spring.

The rest of the cast is a mixed bag. Will Smith gives expert marksman Deadshot some heart without sacrificing the actor’s sense of humor. Viola Davis as Amanda Waller, the cold blooded orchestrator of the titular “squad,” provides some needed balance to the large personalities of the team. The rest feel expendable. Katana (Karen Fukuhara) bleeds too close to being an outright Japanese stereotype. Rick Flag (Joel Kinnaman) is an irredeemable military man that simply fails to resonate. Enchantress (Cara Delevingne) mostly just stands there. As for Leto’s highly publicized Joker, the character nor the actor really have enough screen time to sell us either way. Some moments work, some don’t, but there just isn’t enough to form a full-fledged opinion when comparing him to his predecessors (though Heath Ledger’s iconic take isn’t even close to touched).

All this mismatched talent combines for a superhero movie almost as uneven as this summer’s X-Men: Apocalypse. David Ayer’s directorial style is exciting at the start, when the villains get fun individual introductions, but then fades into safer territory as the plot becomes more familiar. For that, Suicide Squad ends up being merely above average, and just barely at that. It’s a basic superhero movie that doesn’t take enough advantage of its villains. There’s still fun to be had, especially when Harley is doing, well, anything really, but there’s still a sense that the film could have been more. DC should be relatively pleased with themselves, this is hardly the misfire Batman v Superman was. But I do hope this isn’t the baseline for how good they’ll try to get their movies to be here on after. Grade: B

By Matt Dougherty

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