Comics Movie Reviews
Suicide Squad (2016): Film Review
By Hervé St-Louis
September 4, 2021 - 09:14
Studios: Warner Bros.
Writer(s): David Ayer
Starring: Viola Davis, Jared Leto, Margot Robbie, Will Smith
Directed by: David Ayer
Produced by: Charles Roven, Richard Suckle
Running Time: 123 minutes
Release Date: August 4, 2016
Rating: PG13 (Parents Strongly Cautioned)
Distributors: Warner Bros., DC Comics, DC Entertainment, Dune Entertainment, Lin Pictures, Warner Bros.
In the first Suicide Squad movie, director Amanda Waller recruited a team of supervillains led by Rick Flag to deal with a supernatural menace that could affect all of humanity, following Superman’s death. At the same time, she had to deal with the shenanigans of the Joker who tried to interfere in the live of squad member Harley Quinn. Was the Suicide Squad composed of misfits like Killer Croc, Captain Boomerang, Deadshot, El Diablo, Katanna, Slipknot, and the rogue Enchantress who becomes the villain of the film.
The plot of this movie is not from the comics but is very similar to the Batman: Assault on Arkham (2014) animated cartoon that pitted Batman against Waller’s Suicide Squad and the joker. However, instead of a supernatural threat, the cartoon was a classic heist movie with the Suicide Squad attempting to steal precious technology from Arkham Asylum.
This is where the Suicide Squad movie faltered. While supernatural threats can be part of their universe, the Squad works best when it deals with more low-level cases that involve sabotage, infiltration, toppling governments, and heist. The movie failed as the main threat seemed to have switched from a classic sabotage mission to one where they had to stop an interdimensional goddess and her brother from destroying the world. That is material best handled by the Justice League.
The movie tried to imbue an emotional link and high stakes by giving all the main characters proper motivations such as Deadshot’s attachment to his daughter, and Harley Quinn’s rocky relationship with the Joker. El Diablo is on a troubled path towards redemption. Yet, this did not make the movie stellar or great. Humour was forced in after the fact.
The Joker took too much space in this film, making it about himself and Harley instead of the Squad. That is a problem. Here is an unpopular view. Harley Quinn always overpowers the Suicide Squad and should probably be limited in her appearances there or removed entirely. There is a lot of chemistry and relationships about all these convicts that can be told, much like the old John Ostrander and Geoff Isherwood Suicide Squad comic. However, whenever Harley Quinn is around, especially with the Joker, the film centres around her and becomes about her. That’s overbearing.
The strength of this movie was the visual language and imagery which was innovative and beautiful, even if bloody and gritty. It captured to oddball and wackiness of the Suicide Squad perfectly, even if the story was not as good.
In the end, Suicide Squad was a box office success but not a critically acclaimed film. Much like Zack Snyder’s Justice League, there are legions of fans as well as director David Ayers clamouring for the right cut to be released by Warner Brothers. The movie’s ending was a letdown and I understand why many do not like this film. This slightly improved in the latest Suicide Squad movie, but not very much. But that’s for another review!
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