“Suicide Squad” was supposed to be DC’s big-budget superhero ensemble action dramedy extravaganza answer to Marvel’s high-energy, highly entertaining “Guardians of the Galaxy”. And while it tries really, really hard – it fails to live-up to expectations.
The biggest buzz surrounding the production and anticipation of “Suicide Squad” was Jared Leto’s portrayal of The Joker, coming just eight years after the late Heath Ledger captivated the silver screen with his Oscar-winning performance in “The Dark Knight”. But, oddly, The Joker hardly has a presence in “Suicide Squad”, with Leto on screen for only about 10 total minutes. And in the midst of wacky editing, psychedelic visuals and a different retro, pop or techno song blaring every other minute – it’s difficult to appreciate him – or practically everything else director David Ayer attempts to do.
The only standout character and performance in “Suicide Squad” is Margot Robbie’s Harley Quinn. It’s a role filled with freedom – as “The Wolf of Wall Street” star gets to play an over-the-top, unstable bad gal forced to be good – and she nails it. It’s my favorite role of hers to date because it’s genuinely fun, and she shows a nice range, particularly in a handful of quiet, non-violent moments.
Harley is one of a small group of specialized convicts who are the best at what they do – killing people. The government recruits them to be the last defense against supernatural enemies human armies can’t stop. When an ancient witch returns to Midway city to retrieve her heart and begin an apocalyptic reign, they get called into duty. The fact that this is all the writers could come-up with for a villain is embarrassing – and Cara Delevingne (“Paper Towns”) was a terrible casting choice.
Will Smith, hoping to pull a Robert Downey, Jr.-type move by starring in a superhero movie and re-launching his career, plays Deadshot. Unfortunately, even with a shaved head, I felt like I was watching former Box Office King Will Smith shooting down bad guys.
Viola Davis has the most interesting “normal” role, playing the Pentagon agent who brings the “Suicide Squad” together. At times, Davis showcases her “How to Get Away with Murder” flare. But this goes along with the entire feel of “Suicide Squad”. The film is filled with bits and pieces of “daring” and “unique” – hidden in large blotches of “predictable” and “safe”.
This isn’t the dullest action film of the year, but it never gets into a rhythm. And the fact that Batman’s much-more-than-a-cameo appearance was given away in the marketing also eliminates what could have been a much-needed injection of “cool”.
On The Official LCJ Report Card, “Suicide Squad” gets a C.
Running Time: 123 min.