By Jack Dignan
The first trailer for Suicide Squad came out just over a year ago, and now the film is set to open this weekend. The hype is insane, and the film was confirmed to be the most talked about movie on social media. The advertising is everywhere, and I'm certain nearly every person on the planet has heard of this movie, and yes, every person on this planet is probably going to go see it, too. It was easily one of my most anticipated films of the year, especially since the comics this film is based on are so bloody good. The film has a lot to live up to, and so it is with great pleasure that I am able to say that Suicide Squad not only managed to live up to the hype, but it exceeded it. This is the film that will put DC back on the map.
Written and directed by David Ayer, Suicide Squad is, as he puts it, a tale of bad versus evil. Amanda Waller (Viola Davis) has spent years trying to put together a team of some very dangerous people, and at long last, she has them. The worst of the worst. To take down a very powerful threat, Waller assembles Task Force X, AKA the Suicide Squad. The team, led by Rick Flag (Joel Kinnaman), consists of Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie), the girlfriend of the Joker (Jared Leto), Deadshot (Will Smith), a ruthless assassin, Captain Boomerang (Jai Courtney), a criminal from down under, El Diablo (Jay Hernandez), a man who can shoot fire out of his hands, Killer Croc (Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje), a man treated as a monster, Slipknot (Adam Beach), a guy who's uh good with knots I guess, Katana (Karen Fukuhara), who's brought on to keep the team in check, and Enchantress (Cara Delevine), a young explorer who's possessed by a witch. They're bad guys, and they might just have to save the world.
This is without the doubt the most insane movie I have ever witnessed. David Ayer is a very talented director, his filmography including Fury and End of Watch, amongst others. Based on the stories I've heard from set, Ayer is a director who knows how to get the best out of these actors. He knows how to bring out their crazy, and that he does. This film is ridiculously bonkers, and a riot from start to finish. The first thirty minutes is pure madness, especially thanks to the editing style. It's edited in a way that brings you into the headspace of all these characters, and it's relentless. It's hard to describe, but once you see it, you'll understand just how off the charts the start of this movie is.
Ayer spends time setting these characters up, giving them depth and an emotional core, all while cutting between the post Batman V Superman world. It's a film that deals with the consequences of that movie, and it's done so with a fantastic line up of characters, all of whom get their moment to shine. The actors are all the perfect choices for the roles, and I just have to say that each of their introductions perfectly encapsulates who they are as characters, and even sets things up for the long run. There's a scene about two thirds of the way through this movie that put me on the brink of tears, and it's followed soon after by a scene that made me love and understand these characters even more.
While everybody in this movie feels real, developed and likeable (slightly less so the villain, but they're still great), there are a few standouts amongst the large and heavily talented cast. Will Smith as Deadshot is unbelievably good, and it's his character that really holds this team together at times, along with the help of Rick Flagg. I really liked the dynamic between these two, almost as much as I liked the dynamic between him and Harley Quinn, another standout character. Margot Robbie looks, acts and feels like the character we know and love, and she does a fantastic job at bringing her to life. Other standouts include Viola Davis, who kicks all sorts of ass, and Jai Courtney, who I've always considered an underrated actor. Also, can we please appreciate how good Ike Barinholtz was in this movie. He played a much more important role than I thought he would and he absolutely killed it.
Heath Ledger's portrayal of The Joker in 2008's The Dark Knight is famous, and many agree that it's the best on-screen take on the character so far. Jared Leto had big shoes to fill, and despite some strange tattoos that I still don't know how I feel about, he does a pretty damn good job. He only plays a small role, but he's a guy I wouldn't want to mess with. He's a sadistic, violent criminal, who, at the same time, is strangely likeable and sympathetic. This take on The Joker pins him as both a mobster, lunatic and a guy desperate to do anything for the woman he loves, and while he's not always like that in the comics (his relationship with Harley is much more violent in the comics), it's certainly an interesting take on the character. There are times where I was rooting for him, and I never thought that would happen, but I'm not complaining. He is a fascinating character.
This may be a very character driven story, but it's so much more than that, too. It's an action packed installment into the DC Extended Universe, introducing several new characters, but staying faithful to the universe and the lore. It feels like a two hour comic book being played out on screen, and that's one of the biggest compliments I can give this film. The dialogue, the story and the action all feel as though they're the pages of comics coming to life. While the plot takes a little while to set up as there's so many characters to introduce, once it gets going, it's an explosive look at the antics of super villains, and it's a combination of everything I love about comic books.
When the film went into reshoots earlier this year, there were a lot of rumours going around that this was to add more humour into the movie, making it a more fun and accessible film for all different types of people. The rumours were denied, claiming it was to add in more action, and while I can't say for sure, after watching the film, these rumours certainly appear the be false. There's plenty of humour, sure, but it all comes naturally from the characters, much like it does in the source material, and it never feels forced. Everything flows smoothly, and this film isn't afraid to get dark and gritty when it needs to.
At its core, Suicide Squad is without a doubt a comic book movie, but it's so much more than just that. It's a film with layers and depth, spanning over multiple genres. It's a combination of a war film, a gangster film and a superhero film, all while giving insight into the mentality of a villain, and what makes them do the things they do. They're not bad guys, they're just people trying to make a living in the world, and it shows them in a sympathetic light. A lot of their backstories are tragic and even heartbreaking, and it gives it an emotional core that makes it stand out amongst the many, many superhero movies we're given each year. It makes this film something special, and I can safely say I had a smile on my face that didn't disappear until well after the credits (and awesome mid-credit scene) had come to an end.
To sum up, Suicide Squad is a ridiculously insane, action packed, extraordinarily edited and directed character driven look into the mindset of villains, and it does so by telling a fresh and fun story with some brilliant characters who I'd be happy to see further developed in ten more movies. Also, there's a killer soundtrack.