ReelBob: ‘Suicide Squad’
By Bob Bloom
A movie about bad guys kicking ass — even as reluctant heroes “recruited” by the federal government — should be loud and over the top, displaying attitude and anarchy.
But “Suicide Squad” is a product of the serious and dark DC Comics world, where it must be against the law to show brashness and flex some craziness.
This is a movie where the light is sucked out of the film — and the audience.
It takes place mostly at night and in deep, dank prison cells.
And that is one of “Suicide Squad’s” problems. It lacks that in-your-face presence that dares the audience to embrace it. It’s a film that should say take me or leave me, I don’t give a damn.
I realize it grows tiresome comparing the DC cinematic universe to that of Marvel, but “Suicide Squad” was the perfect vehicle for DC to do what Marvel did with “Deadpool” — let the audience in on the joke, remind them that we are having fun here.
Instead, we get what basically is a two-hour setup for the next “Justice League” movie.
“Suicide Squad” should have raced along nearly as fast as a speeding bullet. But, it bogs down by taking too much time with introductions and back stories.
Most of the movie’s first hour delves into the background of our villainous heroes — Will Smith’s Deadshot, Margot Robbie’s Harley Quinn, Jai Courtney’s Boomerang, Jay Fernandez’s Diablo and Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje’s Killer Croc.
Along the way, we meet some peripheral characters, such as Jared Leto’s Joker and Joe Kinnaman’s Rick Flagg.
Ironically, the baddest of them all is Viola Davis’ Amanda Waller, the head of the government agency who sets up these teams of sociopaths.
Her stare can freeze you; she is ruthless, heartless and deadly, willing to sacrifice anyone without a moment of hesitation.
She makes the others look like amateurs.
Don’t ask me to explain the story; it deals with an ancient witch-enchantress who appropriates the body of scientist June Moone (Cara Delevingne), then goes about trying to create some sort of machine, so she can wipe out mankind and reclaim the Earth.
It actually makes no sense, but that doesn’t really matter.
Of all the performers, Robbie seems to be the sole participant who actually shows some flash and individuality. Sure, she’s crazy; it would have served the movie better if the squad were more of a band of psychos who followed her lead.
Writer-director David Ayer does not afford his cast much opportunity to do more than pose, use their weapons and crack some lame one-liners every few moments.
The movie feels messy and disconnected, with a wafer-thin storyline and a muted color palate. “Suicide Squad” is visually unappealing.
Even cameos from a couple of DC superheroes cannot help.
Leto’s Joker had a high mountain to climb — trying to fill the big shoes left by Heath Ledger’s portrayal of the arch-villain in “The Dark Knight.”
It seems Leto can’t get a grip on the character, using a cackling laugh and terrible overacting as compensation for a lack of direction.
“Suicide Squad” is fun in spots; the second hour of the film is mostly action, which saves it from being a total disaster.
It simply feels out of whack, as if it’s a prologue for something else.
This movie should have been devilishly delightful. Instead it bounces around without finding a definitive center or tone that it could — and should — have boldly thrown in our faces.
Bloom is a member of the Indiana Film Journalists Association. His reviews appear at ReelBob (reelbob.com) and Rottentomatoes (www.rottentomatoes.com). He also reviews Blu-rays and DVDs. He can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @ReelBobBloom.
1½ stars out of 4
(PG-13), action violence, disturbing behavior, mayhem, language, suggestive content