If you have seen the reviews, critics haven’t been kind to Suicide Squad. Yet despite all the plot holes, insufficient character development and confusing morality, it succeeds in delivering an entertaining piece of comic-turned-movie. Beware of spoilers while I explain some of it.
The first problem moviegoers will notice is the introduction of a too-large number of characters with thinly-developed backgrounds. The plot revolves around Amanda Waller (Viola Davis), fearing that super-powered individuals such as Superman could go rogue at any moment and the government wouldn’t be able to stop them. So gathering a bunch of criminals as response team is the best idea they have, because they are expendable as if those same government officials didn’t die left and right during the movie without anybody blinking an eye.
So part of the problem with the movie is that Amanda’s plan sounds like a bad idea from the beginning. Her most powerful card is an ancient witch, the Enchantress, who shares a body with archeologist June Moone (Cara Delevingne), and who Amanda controls by way of poking at her heart. To be honest, everything about the Enchantress felt poorly made. June as a character is terrified all the time but still pushed to do things she didn’t want to by her love interest, Colonel Rick Flag (Joel Kinnaman) and Waller. The relationship between Moone and Flag itself is portrayed as engineered by Amanda, which makes the whole boyfriend/handler thing rather uncomfortable.
The Enchantress escapes Amanda’s control five minutes later to revive her equally ancient, powerful brother, who has no character development whatsoever and immediately starts helping her unexplained whim to destroy the world. So in case it wasn’t clear, Amanda’s intent to manipulate the Enchantress is what makes her the villain in the first place. The lack of a decently plotted villain is a usual problem in superhero movies, and it’s sad that DC hasn’t learned that yet.
Still, Suicide Squad does have some good points. As shown all around the web, Margot Robbie’s Harley Quinn is a perfect combination of a twisted mind with a perky personality and a dash of humanity that goes a long way into endearing her to viewers. She also has the best lines and successfully pulls off being the comic relief in many otherwise uninteresting scenes.
Will Smith is also pretty good as Deadshot, keeping the character grounded and likeable even when sometimes the script works against him. His scenes with Amanda Waller make up for a lot. Actually, if the movie was only about Waller, Harley Quinn and Deadshot it may have been the success everyone expected. Alas, the rest of the cast didn’t really pull it off.
It is noteworthy that Suicide Squad managed to have both the most diverse set of characters on a superhero movie so far, only to portray them in the most stereotypical way of they could find. Enter the sexist-drunk Aussie, Captain Boomerang (Jai Courtney), martial arts expert Katana (Karen Fukuhara) and fire-demon possessed El Diablo (Jay Hernandez), a Mexican guy who succeeds better than the others at being likeable even though his whole background is setting his wife and kids on fire.
Finally, we have Killer Croc (Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje), a “monster” who lives in a sewer (it is unclear what his actual crimes are) and Slipknot (Adam Beach), an expert wall-climber who appears for about five minutes.
And then there is the Joker. Jared Leto did manage to make his own version of the character and keep it hip and disturbing, but his role was so surprisingly small and unimportant that it was more like a long cameo. And although the movie as a whole is rather sexist in its treatment of women, it really felt like the Joker was more validated through Harley’s feelings for him than for his own performance.
I cannot finish without mentioning the problematic ethics around the plot in regards to government behavior and implications on the abuse of their own powers. The truth is there is no real difference between the actions of anyone in the squad compared to Waller or Flag, except that the last two are “sanctioned” to behave like that. The fact that a character like Amanda Waller is the boss makes you really wonder about who are the real bad guys.
Despite all, I stand by the opinion that Suicide Squad can be an enjoyable watch, as long as you don’t attend with very high expectations and like cool, flashy explosions and battle scenes. The music is also great and they DO set up the storyline for the upcoming Justice League movie, which may be enough for many comic fans to soothe the shortcomings of this one.