Suicide Squad

Suicide Squad

Suicide Squad

2016. Directed by David Ayer.

Easily one of the most anticipated films of the summer, Suicide Squad has pieces of glory that are ultimately lost in a maze that the DC Extended Universe can't seem to navigate. (Hint: A lot of things get blown up....again...)

Amanda Waller (phoned in by Viola Davis) assembles a black ops team of villains to combat the growing meta-human threat. Bad guys show up, threaten a city, and in goes the team to save the day.

The thing I want to be clear about is that this film has a lot going for it. There are some scenes that are amazing, but they are sadly overshadowed by wanton CGI and a dull script, which is only saved by a talented cast doing their very best with scraps from the four colored table.

The marketing, posters and original trailer presented this as a street level crime thriller with a lot of depth and serious stakes. The film toys with these ideas but never explores or exploits them, leaving the viewer with an ill defined Avengers B team that manages to limp across the finish line on it's precious moments greatness.

Margot Robbie steals the show (of course) with a great and loyal portrayal of Harley Quinn. For those worried about how the film treats her noxious affair with the Joker, rest easy, it is addressed, though subtlety and in one of the aforementioned parts of the film that works. Jared Leto is amazing. His take on the Clown Prince of Crime is just that. Leave your sociopathic anarchist presumptions at the door. This is a mythical figure in Gotham's underworld who's appearance is a game changer, and essentially a prolonged cameo(one of the better editing decisions). There's one scene in particular that sold it for me that takes place in a kitchen, but I'll leave that for you to decide.

Will Smith is capable as always and manages to not play a caricature of himself. It's his chemistry with Robbie's Quinn that pushes this from a C level venture to something close to awesome. They share a scene that is heartwarming and important, but again, overshadowed by explosions and gun play.

Katana and Slipknot were literally tacked on, but Jai Courtney manages to hold his own with the comic relief. Jay Hernandez's role is so telegraphed his entire arc is eye rolling in it's summation. Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje's Killer Croc is another great character who shines whenever he's given the chance...which is almost never. That is the major problem. The film bounces from great dialogue to important gestures as if they are landmines to be avoided and not embraced. Every possible opportunity for emotion and development is sacrificed to boring combat sequences and stilted dialogue between Waller and the team.

The soundtrack is fun, but ultimately the naughty cousin of Guardians of the Galaxy. Roman Vasyanov's cinematography captures some amazing scenes, but his vision is dulled by the film's adherence to a certain color pallet from other more dubious DC offerings. Graham Chivers makeup on Croc is also a visual splendor, as is Kate Hawley's costume design (pay attention to Joker's thugs).

In theaters now, Suicide Squad is a fun action film with many great qualities. The frustration is that these qualities are hidden Easter eggs in a garden of Warner Brothers "the Earth is ending again" destructive and soulless set pieces. It's worth it for the squad, the music, and the shadows of legitimacy that hide among the ruins of...some city in America.

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