Everyone was hoping Batman and Superman would save the DC Extended Universe earlier this year, but that sadly wasn’t the case. In a twisted turn of events, however, this superhero franchise has found some redemption thanks to a ragtag team of murderers and homicidal maniacs. Suicide Squad pretty much gives audiences what they’ve been wanting from the DCEU: humor, colors, clever banter, and even a heart. With that said, the movie isn’t without some of the same problems we’ve come to expect from this franchise: jumbled pacing and one too many characters. After two dark, brooding disappointments, though, it’s nice to see that DC is finally having some fun. Leave it to the bad guys to save the day.
Viola Davis is perfectly icy as Amanda Waller, a calculating government official that knows how to get away with murder. Knowing that another global catastrophe is bound to happen, Waller decides to assemble a unit of supervillains to carry out suicide missions. To lead this task force, Waller turns to Joel Kinnaman’s Rick Flag, a no-nonsense solider that isn’t afraid to get his hands dirty. Both Davis and Kinnaman do a great job at maintaining a straight face, even when sharing the screen with some of DC’s craziest creations.
Will Smith gives his most entertaining performance in a while as Deadshot, an assassin who never misses his target. Despite being a lethal marksman, he has a soft spot when it comes to his daughter. Ironically, the scenes between Deadshot and his child are more emotional than anything we’ve seen involving Henry Cavill’s Superman. While Smith is a compelling presence, it’s Margot Robbie’s Harley Quinn that steals the show. Watching Robbie, it feels as if the Maiden of Mischief has flown out of the comics and onto the silver screen. She nails every aspect of Harley, from her playful charm, to her psychopathic tendencies, to her sick attraction to the Joker.
Speaking of which, let’s talk about Jared Leto as the Clown Prince of Crime! Leto had the misfortune of following in the footsteps of Heath Ledger, who posthumously won an Oscar for playing the character in The Dark Knight. Leto wisely doesn’t impersonate Ledger, however. He creates a blinged-out Joker of his own that’s menacing, unpredictable, and overflowing with chaos. Even if nobody will ever be able to top Ledger’s immortal portrayal, Leto definitely gives Mark Hamill and Jack Nicholson a run for their money.
Oh, and the film also stars Jay Hernandez as the fiery El Diablo, Jai Courtney as the bug-eyed Captain Boomerang, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje as the scaly Killer Croc, and Karen Fukuhara as the deadly Katana. It might sound like I’m just rushing through character introductions, but that’s basically what the movie does too. Several characters are given rich development and several other characters just kind of go along for the ride. That’s probably the biggest problem with Suicide Squad. It packs in more characters than it knows what to do with, which prevents this ensemble from reaching the same heights as the Guardians of the Galaxy. Matters can become especially muddled when we’re introduced to Cara Delevingne’s Enchantress, a wicked sorceress with an overly complicated backstory.
Even if Suicide Squad can be overstuffed, the entire cast shares marvelous chemistry. While some characters are more fascinating than others, everyone is allowed a moment to shine. Most importantly, writer/director David Ayer keeps the interplay between these people fresh, energized, and witty. As dishonest and immoral as our heroes are, the rapport they develop feels surprisingly natural. On top of that, Ayer pumps his film with several rousing action set pieces and more than enough dark humor.
On the whole, Suicide Squad is full of great scenes, although some of them could have been elaborated on. The editing can also be a little topsy-turvy, occasionally jumping between the past and present with no rhyme or reason. Nevertheless, the film isn’t dull for a second, which is beyond refreshing after Batman v Superman bombarded us with so many pointless, drawn-out scenes. The result is easily the best DCEU to date, giving us hope for this franchise. It might not be quite up there with Captain America: Civil War or Deadpool, but being the third best superhero movie of 2016 ain’t half bad.