Title: Suicide Squad
Describe This Movie In One Simpsons Quote:
Moe: Oh boy, looks like it's suicide again for me.
Rating Using Random Objects Relevant To The Film: Three Red Hoods out of five.
Brief Plot Synopsis: Dirty (half) dozen does dirty deeds, cheap.
Tagline: "Worst. Heroes. Ever."
Better Tagline: "We need to Guardians of the Galaxy this up by about 30 percent."
Not So Brief Plot Synopsis: The sudden appearance of "meta-humans" — more to the point, Superman — has put America's defense agencies in a bit of a bind. In response, government operative Amanda Waller (Viola Davis) secures approval to create a team consisting of meta-criminals — including insane ex-psychiatrists Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie), assassin Deadshot (Will Smith), and reformed pyrokinetic El Diablo (Jay Hernandez) — to perform a rescue operation in Midway City, where an entity known as the Enchantress (Cara Delevingne) is fashioning a superweapon. Leading the team is Colonel Rick Flag (Joel Kinnaman), a normal human who is romantically involved with the Enchantress's human alter ego. Oh, and Quinn's ex-boyfriend is also lurking about. You may have heard of him; calls himself the Joker (Jared Leto).
"Critical" Analysis: Everybody can calm down: Suicide Squad isn't *that* bad. Parts of it, and some of the performances, are actually quite entertaining. Of course, you may be hard-pressed to believe this if you've been following the amusing developments regarding Rotten Tomatoes and the (now withdrawn) petition to shut it down over what some have viewed as the critical establishment's "unfair treatment" of DC Comics movie properties. More on this later, if you care.
Right off the bat, Suicide Squad has a more intimate feel than previous modern DC efforts. Yes; there’s a plot to take over the world, and yes; there's some not-insignificant property damage. But when the movie takes time to show Deadshot with his daughter, or offers a belated interlude in which the entire crew takes five in an abandoned bar right before the final fight, it also gels better than any of its predecessors.
And it’s no coincidence that in most of these scenes, Robbie or Smith are anchoring the action. Robbie — predictably, after watching her in The Wolf of Wall Street and Whiskey Tango Foxtrot — is the unrivaled star of the show. She doesn't quite sell the romantic arc with the Joker, but the fact that we don't laugh her off the screen entirely during those scenes is further proof of her charisma. She also pulls this off while she (and Katana, and Enchantress) are clad in the equivalent of tube tops and hot pants.
"Curiously," most of the male team members are tricked out in body armor and tac vests. Even the B-level dudes ('sup, "Captain Boomerang?") warrant big jackets and boots. Executive producer Zack Snyder sucker punches us again.
As for Smith, well, there’s a reason he was one of the biggest movie stars on the planet before indulging in weird vanity projects. Deadshot provides the movie's emotional focus, which ultimately shortchanges just about everyone else’s story (not to worry; director David Ayer loves him some flashbacks). Also, there’s more humor than in Man of Steel or Batman vs Superman (not exactly a tall order), and Viola Davis is a bigger badass than the rest of the cast combined, but you probably already knew that.
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What — or rather who — *doesn't* work? The Joker, who’s just as insufferable as that eponymous Steve Miller song. Much virtual ink has been dedicated to Leto's, uh, "immersing" himself in the role of the Clown Prince of Crime, and while he's obviously relishing the experience, the effect is the diametric opposite of what's intended. Even if you're not a fan of the character, his every appearance drags the movie to a flamboyantly contrived halt.
And perhaps it's not entirely his fault. Left to choose between Jack Nicholson's sinister smarm and Heath Ledger's superlative anarchy, Leto opts for "Insane Clown Pimp," with the results being about as enjoyable as you'd expect from anything with the initials "ICP."
It’s apparent early on that Suicide Squad is the result of two not entirely divergent thought processes getting mashed together: the pervasive depression of the so-called DC “Murderverse” and more light-hearted elements, courtesy of Warners’ panicked response to Batman v Superman’s negative reception. The patchwork structure and tonal shifts also don’t bode well for the rest of the Justice League slate, including what may be the studio's most hotly anticipated movie of 2017, Wonder Woman.
Still, the movie isn’t deserving of the curb stomping it’s received to this point. Chalk it up to the pitfall of diminished expectations, but also give it the benefit of the doubt for actually – haltingly — trying to have fun. Having said that, one marginally favorable review isn’t going to put the brakes on DC’s continuing cinematic slide. If this were Warner Bros.' first effort, instead of what feels like the umpteenth attempt to jumpstart DC's mythology, it might be better received. As it is, Suicide Squad scores, at best, a Pyrrhic victory.