David Ayer is not someone who does a lot of films. He has written ten, directed seven and written and directed all seven of films he has helmed. He is a terrific director and an excellent writer responsible for some very fine films; End of Watch, Fury, Street Kings as writer and director. As a writer only, he has done some excellent work, most notably as the writer of the first Fast and the Furious and the Oscar nominated Training Day. Suicide Squad is somewhere in there. I frankly, do not understand the venom that critics have been spewing forth. Is it a classic? No. It is not as good as some of the Marvel films that have been released. But what I can say is this film is solid fun with some excellent performances, a terrific score by Steven Price and a rocking soundtrack, to boot. Is Suicide Squad one of the best films of the year? It might be, since the amount of very good films have been few and far between. I only have TWO that have been given five stars; Captain America: Civil War and the latest Star Trek film. That’s it. Regardless, I was surprised at how much fun I did have with Suicide Squad.
This is a spoiler free review, for the most part. But If you want a quick response, I will say this is worth seeing. The film opens as Amanda Waller (Viola Davis) is putting together a team of “heroes” made up of some very bad people. Covert and expendable, the team can be “thrown under the bus” if the whole plan turns south. Deadshot (Will Smith), Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie), Diablo (Jay Hernandez), Killer Croc (Adewale Akinnouye-Agbaje), Boomerang (Jai Courtney), Slipknot (Adam Beach), Katana (Karen Fukuhara) and led by Rick Flag (Joel Kinnamen). Their mission is a search and rescue for a unit that is lost somewhere in the city being terrorized by Enchantress (Cara Delevingne) and her brother, Incubus (all CGI). Some have said they had a hard time with the plot and yet, simple, little me was able to figure it all out, by myself. Maybe they did not like the plot but there it is. Is it ambitious? No. But this is an origins story and it is a damn fine one.
First, Jai Courtney FINALLY comes through with a fine performance as Boomerang. That’s right, you heard me. Jai Courtney has given a fine performance. His character is an Aussie bank robber and thief with a set of deadly boomerangs. He is rather funny and kind of charming, in a way. He cannot help himself to swill beer and hit on Katana even when she has her sword at his throat. Will Smith is terrific as Deadshot. He is a mercenary assassin, but still has a soft spot for his daughter and hopes to be reunited with her. He will stop at nothing to accomplish that. Margot Robbie is a hoot as Harley Quinn; sexy, smart and funny and she steals the show. Someone else that I have not been that big of a fan of is Joel Kinnamen. He was rather bad in the Robocop remake but was passable in Run All Night. In Suicide Squad he is excellent and shows what he can do with the right role. He is tough and cold but still has a certain humanity that he has not lost. He is in love with Dr. June Moore (also played by Delevingne) who is the alter ego of Enchantress. How to separate one from the other is a real chore, something the film does nicely. Viola Davis is tough as nails as Amanda Waller and a joy to watch. She is as cold as can be, but somehow, I still liked her character. That is some great acting, if you can pull that off.
Jared Leto as the Joker is phenomenal. He is an amalgamation of Heath Ledger and Jack Nicholson’s Joker but there is something fresh about how Leto embodies the character. But, be warned, he is not the main focus of this film. As are the cameos of Batman, Bruce Wayne and the Flash. This is an origins story setting up the Justice League film(s) and as an origins story, Suicide Squad is loads of fun. It has been criticized as being choppy and disjointed. A couple of action scenes do seem a bit odd in their placement in the film but, surprisingly, it did not bother me nor did it hinder the story or the pacing. Ayer keeps the action coming but has a terrific scene in a bar, when some of the backstory for the characters is explored and it is startling, but touching, heartfelt and very well acted by all. Steven Price, who won the Oscar for Gravity, provides another fresh and exciting score that fits the mayhem well. Suicide Squad has been hammered for the rock soundtrack as being distracting. I did not see that as all. The soundtrack has a song for each of the squad as their theme song setting up their personality and it worked for me.
Suicide Squad is not perfect, but what it does, it does well. It entertains as an origins story and sets up the DC film genre, if you will, with a rousing film that is fast, funny and has a lot more depth than I thought I would get. If I had any more problems, it is with the PG13 rating. Ayer is an R rated director and writer. Not that I need a bunch of foul language, but the problem is with the action. It is fine as it stands in this film, but you can tell Ayer was pulling his punches, so to speak. I have a feeling this is the studios doing and not his. I would LOVE to see the uncut version for this film. I mean, they can do it for Batman Vs. Superman, surely they can do it for Suicide Squad. I always had the feeling, Ayer wanted to go longer with the run time of the film and do a little more, but as it stands, this version of Suicide Squad is great entertainment. As for the other critics, I don’t know what to say. I don’t know what they were expecting. This is not a reinvention of the wheel. This is entertainment and Suicide Squad does it in grand style.
Suicide Squad – **** out of 5
Suicide Squad – Rated PG13 for language, violence, sexual innuendo, adult situations
Suicide Squad – Run Time is 123 minutes (theatrical cut). **The Extended Cut is 133 minutes and is unrated. Not that much of a difference, really. A few extended scenes between Joker and Harley, but basically the same film. Still PG-13 in nature. The extended cut is now available on BluRay and digital download, only.**
Suicide Squad is now playing in theaters. Check your local listings for times and locations.