By Ed Sum (The Vintage Tempest)
* Spoiler Alert
Suicide Squad is definitely a lot of fun with Deadshot (Will Smith) commanding this team! Technically, it’s Rick Flag (Joel Kinnaman) but if this individual is going to be the good guy to take care of the bad guys, he certainly needs to learn from Deadshot in how to rile and rouse a team into action. More could have been done in the tale to show these two have a battle of wills and decide who is the most righteous. But instead, the story weaves in and out of identifying who will make up this team and why they are brought together.
The plot felt inspired by Ghostbusters I and II. Certain set pieces were definitely very familiar — where the team has to go into the heart of where the commotion is taking place in a ravaged city. Just who caused the destruction was never revealed in the trailers. It could have been terrorists, another meta-human gone postal or even be an alien invasion. A major reveal follows:
The team — an insane risk-taking Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie); a firestarter ex-gangster El Diablo (Jay Hernandez); techie-thief Captain Boomerang (Jai Courtney); muscle-man Killer Croc (Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje); and mercenary wall-crawler Slipknot (Adam Beach) — were imprisoned because they are a danger to society. But for Amanda Waller (Viola Davis), an intelligence agent, she worries about a time if one of the so-called heroes, especially Superman, decides to turn bad and take over the White House, if not the world. There’s obvious tension between her and everyone under her employment. Not even her own team necessarily sees eye to eye in how to accomplish “humanitarian” goals. In this film, everyone seems to agree that covert ops is a key to justifying an end. Waller has an edge when it comes to how much she trusts anyone. She ordered tiny micro-nukes into the necks of her newly established team. If they do not comply, they are dead.
Much of the first act introduces this new group. The focus is heavy on Smith as Floyd Lawton, the civilian identity of this merc. He’s a father with a lot of heart; he has a daughter whom he very much loves and the character development is heavy on him than the others to show how much of an anti-hero he truly is. Dr. Harleen Quinzel’s descent into madness is just as lovingly explored.
Writer/director David Ayer has to explore Quinzel’s background because studios can not take for granted everyone knows this beloved nutcase first introduced in Batman: the Animated Series. She is smart and sexy. She eventually got adopted into the comic book mainstream years later, and to see how the infatuation developed between her and The Joker needs to be explored. Sadly, this clown prince of crime was underutilised in this movie, and he deservedly needs his Batman movie to see how he shines. Jared Leto‘s performance is definitely a different take from how many remember this criminal when Heath Ledger played him. There’s more of a Puck-ish (William Shakespeare) demeanour to this new version and for the most part, he’s going to have a fun time playing with Bats when the two truly face off against one another.
El Diablo is the next most interesting character. He wants to renounce his old ways of being a thoughtless criminal. His story is developed throughout the film, and I was anxious to learn more about him. There’s a future for this character because, in the climatic battle, I had to wonder how he gained his abilities. Was it the same way as the antagonists or was the ability in-born? I haven’t read the original comics to know how he was “created,” and I wanted to know more! Could he be like Etrigan the Demon from the comics?
The team are called in to “rescue” Flag’s girlfriend, Dr. June Moone (Cara Delevingne). She is possessed by a witch-goddess figure, Enchantress, who can easily give Gozer a run for her money. And I was not surprised that only one member of the team is even capable of taking her (and her brother, who is more like a bodyguard) on. The way she acts when this spirit takes over is too familiar. I wanted an antagonist who did more than look great in tights. One detail done right is that evoking powerful magic takes time. It can not be summoned in mere seconds.
Despite some choppy story editing (not all of The Joker’s movements easily flowed as he plots to reunite with Harley) in Suicide Squad, I was left wondering more about how certain characters will continue in the DC Cinematic Universe more than considering this film as an individual product. I’d like to know how long Waller will continue to manipulate these criminals. The rest of the team felt like throwaways and changes will no doubt be in store. Yes, please bring Etrigan to this cinematic world and maybe make him part of the team!
I enjoyed the paranormal aspects introduced in this film. There was a tinge of an H.P. Lovecraft inspired end of days narrative with forgotten tombs and spirit possession. I really hope there is a Doctor Fate movie being developed because without him, The DC Universe is filled with some interesting supernatural heroes like Gentleman Ghost, Parallax and Nekron. The Justice League might have to face a supernatural threat if the story direction in Suicide Squad is any indication. Opening portals to other worlds seem to be a big thing in these comic book films of late. Even Katana (Karen Fukuhara), Flagg’s bodyguard, holds a key to the other world. She wields a sword that traps the souls of those it kills. Although she seems a bit bananas by talking to those trapped in her blade, there’s a reason behind it.
This film lacks a certain insanity to make this story over the top. When The Joker is involved, it has to be featured somewhere. This film is PG-13 rated and does not focus on this clown prince at all, save for suggesting he will become a future member if he manages to get captured. Hopefully, in his next outing, both the film and he gets the R rating he richly deserves to truly shine as a psychotic killer.
3½ Little Harleys Sitting Under the Tree