Film Reviews

REVIEW: Suicide Squad

Written by John Hussey

After much anticipation Suicide Squad has finally hit our screens and the big question everyone wants to know is: Was it better than Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice? Kidding of course, because I actually liked that movie (though I’m no doubt in the minority there), but it’s fair to say that with all the hype surrounding this film a lot of fans and casual viewers want to know that they are getting their money’s worth. And I will happily say yes, yes you will.

Suicide Squad does certainly feel like a comic-book movie with all of its characters and the world it creates. The imagery, the colourisation, and the character set-ups all feel like they have been lifted from the pages of a comic and perfectly adapted into moving imagery. What I did like is that all the main characters got given an introduction via a flashback sequence that explains their character. It did make the beginning of the film drag somewhat but in a good way in order to deliver necessary information which allowed you to feel invested in the characters onscreen through the film actually making you give a damn.

There is a variety of different characters within Task Force X and each of them has a story to tell accompanied with their own unique imagery which allows them to stand out from one another. Deadshot and Harley Quinn easily have the most development and backstory and each share a unique bond, with Deadshot in many ways giving Quinn guidance and a form of friendship. Deadshot certainly has a lot of audience connection through his relationship with his daughter who he cannot see due to his imprisonment. He comes across as a lethal assassin but at heart he is noble and wants what’s best for his child.

With Quinn we are given snippets into her messed up relationship with The Joker and how she became obsessed with him during her psychiatry sessions with him in Arkham Asylum. We saw through flashbacks how he tortured and transformed her into the psychopath we saw in the rest of the movie. But what is refreshing with this take on their demented relationship is how madly in love Joker is with Quinn, with him utilising his entire screen time trying to find and rescue her. Literally this version of The Joker isn’t heartless toward Quinn and instead is overly protective of her and kills anyone who looks at her funny. We also get the usual obsessive nature from Quinn towards her Mr. J, with one scene showcasing her devastation when she believes The Joker has been killed, which in turn showcases how they cannot be whole without the other.

The most surprising character to receive development is El Diablo who is back benched for the first half of the film due to not getting involved. This instantly made me wonder why he would go cold-turkey and hang up his villainous ways. We discover that his acts of violence led him to kill his own family and upon realising what he had done he vowed to stop unleashing his inner-demon. But, in a poetic fashion, he learns that he can use his abilities for a good purpose and through his determination to protect his new family he ultimately makes the ultimate sacrifice to help save the world.

What I found great about this film was the connection between the characters. They all played off each other incredibly well. This allowed for some really comical moments, something that was lacking within the previous DC Extended Universe entries. The diversity of the characters brought about some interesting combinations, like Boomerang trying to impress Katana, Deadshot trying to understand Diablo and even the inclusion of Killer Croc as he slowly settled in and became part of the team. By the end of the film you feel these characters have come a long way in terms of understanding themselves, becoming more than they once were and growing to care for their new found friends as they share their connections and burdens.

Then there was the well constructed character of Amanda Waller who was an absolute brutal bitch through her ability to manipulate other’s through carefully constructed threats. She was extremely intimidating in every scene through fierce presence and ambitions. It was great to watch her manipulation of the team, especially with Rick Flag whom she controlled through threatening Enchantress, thus killing two birds with one stone. She had control over Task Force X through the bribery of detonating a bomb inside of their heads, to which meant they couldn’t kill Rick because it meant their deaths, and if they were disobedient or tried to escape they would also die. It’s fair to say that she held all the cards in this movie.

Another thing this film did well at was further establishing the DC Extended Universe, which was started in Dawn of Justice. Though some of the elements in that film felt slightly forced, here it all came together naturally and really helped to cement the shared universe through deepened mythology. Continuing on from Dawn of Justice Amanda feels the need to create Task Force X to become a perfect tool against threatening Meta-Humans. In question the members of Task Force X constitute of villains that Batman and The Flash have helped to capture. These were very welcomed cameos and helped further establish threads and connections between the different characters. Furthermore through Amanda Bruce Wayne is able to gain access to the files of Barry Allen, Arthur Curry and Victor Stone, which explains how he is able to find them in Justice League.

Of course this film wasn’t perfect. One of the biggest disappointments of the film was the absence of The Joker. Now I had my suspicion in the beginning that The Joker wouldn’t be involved that much but through extensive publicity, and the fact that Jared Leto is given the second listing, it made me hope that The Joker’s appearance was extensive. Sadly it is pretty much an extended cameo with his collected, and brief scenes onscreen, adding up maybe a total of 10 minutes of footage. This was a shame because of the character’s status within DC Comics, but I guess they wanted to push him aside to allow for some new additions to take centre stage.

If anything his appearance was a massive tease for upcoming appearances but the question is when will that be and will his future appearances be more hands-on, and not short and sweet cameos? It’s fair to say that The Joker was truly intimidating and mad whenever he did show up but it’s too early to say whether or not Leto is a good Joker. Plus his deep force and strange way of pronouncing words left me puzzling as to what he was saying half the time, reminding me too much of the grunting of Christian Bale‘s Batman.

Then there is the obvious fact that not all of our protagonists got decent amount of screen time or failed to get any real character development. Killer Croc definitely felt like he was just there, and it didn’t help through the fact that his design was awful and his contribution made for little impact. As much as Boomerang was fun to watch he didn’t gain any real development and again was more there for show (but at least he did some cool stuff from time to time). Poor Katana was given barely any dialogue, with Rick being used as an information tool to pass important points about her character to the rest of the team. The biggest punch in the teeth was Slipknot who literally only appeared for about 10 minutes before being killed off. His purpose in the film was to showcase that Amanda wasn’t lying about the bombs in their heads.

Another weak point was Enchantress as a villain as she felt rather weak in terms of originality and threat. Yes she was a threat through her powers but she didn’t really do much throughout the film other than look impressive through her design. Plus her brother felt rather generic and most of the threat value came from the minions Enchantress created. There was little focus on their plan and why it was being executed. In many ways The Joker would’ve made for a far more interesting villain because of his character and what he can do, allowing for a villainous scheme that would’ve amounted to something more original, but sadly was given a romantic sub-plot to get lost in instead.

But when it comes down to it The Joker wasn’t the highlight of the movie and despite him being my most anticipated element Suicide Squad turned out to be a very enjoyable experience without him and I loved every second of it, from the character development, their interactions, watching Amanda being a brutal bitch, to all of the glorious cameos and establishments. It was a great film and certainly shows that the DC Extended Universe is fine and knows where it is going. Say what you will about the pacing, and all the catch-up their trying to do, but I feel this style is working and getting the ball rolling at just the right pace and with Suicide Squad it shows that we have a successful shared universe on our plate and one that I enjoy delving into just as much as the MCU.

Have you seen Suicide Squad? What did you make of it? Let us know in the comments section below or send us a Tweet!

About the author

John Hussey