Movie Review: Suicide Squad

Suicide Squad (2016)

Rated PG-13: For Intense Violence, Mild Language, Disturbing Imagery and Some Sensitive Themes

Running Time: 123 Minutes (2 hours and 5 minutes)

Genre/s: Action, Adaptation, Adventure, Comedy, Science Fiction, Superhero

Released on August 5, 2016 (US Release Date; Available For Worldwide Viewing)

Presented by Warner Bros. Studios

Writer and Director: David Ayer

  • Will Smith as Floyd Lawton / Deadshot
  • Margot Robbie as Harleen Quinzel / Harley Quinn
  • Joel Kinnaman as Rick Flag
  • Jay Hernandez as Chato Santana / El Diablo
  • Jai Courtney as George "Digger" Harkness / Captain Boomerang
  • Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje as Waylon Jones / Killer Croc
  • Karen Fukuhara as Tatsu Yamashiro / Katana
  • Cara Delevigne as June Moone / The Enchantress
  • Viola Davis as Amanda Waller
  • Jared Leto as The Joker
And now it is the best time for something that is completely different for this year of superhero movies, supervillains saving the world from utter destruction. After our school examinations, and during our DC Extended Universe critique post, I have promised myself that I would be watching Suicide Squad as soon as I rid myself of all the school work, but an avalanche of projects followed, and there went what could have been the best weekend of the school year. But finally, we celebrated National Heroes' Day by watching the Worst Heroes Ever on the big screen, which is pretty ironic once you think about it. Is this film the definitive DCEU movie fans have been waiting for, or is this a major red flag towards the franchise' dwindling quality? Join Dateline Movies as we review the third consecutive, polarizing DCEU flick, and most definitely not the last of its kind, Suicide Squad!

What is the movie about?

In the aftermath of the world's most powerful superhero, Superman's demise at the hands of Doomsday, Earth is left without a protector. The mysterious figure named Amanda Waller, played by Davis (Beautiful Creatures) spearheads the program known as Task Force X, which involves the assembly of the world's most ruthless assassins, criminals and all-around villains, in exchange for reduced prison sentences, as a means to take down extraordinary threats that a regular human could not handle.

Waller already has selected individuals under her grasp who have the potential to join-in the ranks of being a member of a Suicide Squad. Arrested by Batman in Gotham City, ace assassin Floyd "Deadshot" Lawton, played by Smith, struggles to prove to his daughter that he is more than just a killer. The pyrokinetic Chato "El Diablo" Santana, played by Hernandez (Max), lives in self-isolation after his powers led to the accidental deaths of his wife and daughter. Former psychiatrist Harleen "Harley Quinn" Quinzel, played by Robbie (Smith and Robbie appeared in Focus), is also apprehended by Batman after the Dark Knight had a run-in with his nemesis, the Joker, played by Leto (Panic Room). Another Batman rogue, Waylon "Killer Croc" Jones, played by Akinnuoye-Agbaje (Game of Thrones), is born as a cross-breed between a lizard and a man. Wisecracking boomerang-based thief Digger "Captain Boomerang" Harkness played by Courtney (Terminator: Genisys), is dragged into the program as well after the Flash caught him. The mythical June "Enchantress" Moone, played by Delevigne (Paper Towns) is selected as a candidate due to her connections with the paranormal.

All of these fine and deadly ladies and gentlemen are part of Task Force X. To keep the order intact within the team, Waller assigns her most trusted colleague Rick Flag, played by Kinnaman (Run All Night) to monitor the group with bombs implanted in their necks, with Flag's bodyguard and friend Tatsu "Katana" Yamashiro, played by Fukuhara in her debut role.

But things quickly turn dangerous as the Enchantress' darker personality, the demon that possessed her and who grants her abilities, has taken over, and has freed her sinister brother Incubus. With her brother, the insidious duo takes over Midway City and transforms the populace into mindless henchmen. Now planning to start a frightful new world order, Task Force X must get it together if they are to be more than just your average evildoers. However, they forgot about the Joker joining the game. 

What we think of the movie?

Acting = (3/5)

When we think of the iconic beauty of a character that is Harley Quinn, two things would come into mind. First, Harley is indeed gorgeous, and second, she is a fairly complex character, packed to the brim with complicated love-related issues and dark humor. I am here to tell you now that this iteration of Harley Quinn, is more or less tamed. Sure, omitting the trademark abusive Joker-Harley relationship is done to cater to all audiences, but I have to agree with other Internet users here, this just made Harley pretty one-dimensional. But character underdevelopment aside, Margot Robbie nails it as Harley Quinn, and she is by far the best performance throughout the entire movie, as if she is the very heart of the flick. Making use of her charming talents to capture the lovable nature of the iconic comicbook character of the same name, Robbie steals the show by becoming the inevitable comic relief that is actually fun to watch, compared to the really annoying. However, I do miss the notable Brooklyn accent from the original animated series. 

Given my love for comicbooks, you could easily assume that I know who Chato Santana is before watching the movie. Well you are really, really wrong, because this El Diablo is not the one I am familiar with, who is a Spanish cowboy who hangs-out with Jonah Hex in the old west. Storywise, Jay Hernandez's "isolated himself from society" character is undeniably cliched. Seriously, El Diablo is just like any other guilt-driven character in all the other crime films I watched. However, there is something about Jay Hernandez's portrayal that makes him a highlight. Was it the actor's ability to make audiences sympathize, or was it the fact that he transformed into a full-fledged flaming demon by the climax made us cheer? Either way, we can all agree that El Diablo, who in the wrong hands could have just been a charmless gangster, have been a standout among the cast members of the entire film by conveying raw emotions, making viewers relate to this sadly killed-off character.

The Joker, played by Academy-Award winning method actor and 30 Seconds To Mars front man Jared Leto, is part of the main cast of characters but only appears for a handful of minutes. After all of the anticipation brought upon by the endless circulation with regards to Leto's unorthodox ways of getting into character, such as pranking his co-stars to the point that Viola Davis threatened to pepper spray, to blurring the lines between actor and character by becoming a total psychopath, a lot of us would assume that Leto would be getting a proper amount of screen time. Prepare to be eerily disappointed as the Joker's overall screen time meets little to no expectations at all due to the apparent one-hour worth of footage that is "enough for a Joker movie." removed from the final cut. Regardless of limitations, Leto does have the potential to be a truly terrifying Joker, and the scenes that featured him are somewhat enjoyable but are too short to make an impression. Unfortunately, there simply was not enough time for him to show-off his complete dark side, and had the scenes remained, maybe we could have seen a completely unique portrayal. As such, my final judgement remains in the "gray area".

Amanda Waller, as I have seen from the classic DC animated shows, is a very intriguing authority figure in a world filled with gifted superhumans, and a very threatening foil to our heroes in red, blue and black. She represents the ideally paranoid government officer who knows her way in and out of the ever changing world, and someone who knows the many difficult and regretful decisions she has to do to preserve the greater good. In this movie, well, she is slightly underdeveloped, given that she practically acts as the squad's handler, and not much else, but Viola Davis' delivery, dashed with her How To Get Away With Murder energy, shows a small but engaging glimpse at who her character truly is. Despite the slightly under-cooked characterization, the movie does a great job at making her easily hated by a lot of fans, in a good way. With her being the secondary focus of the story, combined with Davis' performance, we get to see serious and committed Amanda Waller, who knows how to get through everyone's heads, and play with them for her own gain.

Will Smith is usually the kind of actor that would be the source of a movie's energy. For a man who is a very talented actor and rapper who is often displayed for a party animal or a bad boy type of protagonist, Smith's performance as Deadshot represents some of the aspects that he is notable for. While Smith delivered some interesting moments such as the training scene, and his character is developed, although cliched, this performance feels a little bit tired, and most of the gag scenes that he is in seem to be lost in translation. No, I am not joking. Not a single soul in the movie house cracked a smile in some of the scenes that has him attempt to be charismatic. However, I am still hopeful to see more of him as time goes by, and maybe return with much more energy.

Joel Kinnaman is a pretty decent actor, if you would ask me. He has had some ups, such as his role in the acclaimed drama House of Cards, and times that he is somewhere within the middle such as the RoboCop reboot and Run All Night. But I will be perfectly honest here, his role did have purpose, yet it is overshadowed by the sub-plots concerning the other major characters, specifically by Harley Quinn's backstories. His performance as Rick Flag is sort-of average at best, as I am very much familiar with the "no non-sense field leader with a huge military background" trope like if its is my own backyard, and his portrayal matched the description.

Character underdevelopment plagued not only Rick Flag, but also not one, not two, rather four other characters in the movie, namely Jai Courtney's Captain Boomerang, Cara Delevigne's Enchantress, Karen Fukuhara's Katana and Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje's Killer Croc. I cannot remember how many times I actually said it to myself in the theater, but I did say "Oh yeah, I forgot they're in the movie.". In Akinnuoye-Agbaje's case, his character's vocabulary range from reptilian growls, to some gags, but mostly reptilian growls. Had he do more than those, except for that one hilarious bar scene, he could have been more memorable. For Captain Boomerang and Katana, it is as if they are just extras in their own movie. While this is undoubtedly one of Jai Courtney's much better portrayals, and Karen Fukuhara shows promise, their amount of dialogue in the entire movie is about five to seven lines. For Enchantress, it is the trope of being the typical kind of villain that you would normally expect from every other superhero movie that completely ruined Cara's performance. Also, while Delevigne is very hypnotic in appearance as the Enchantress, there is some notable lack of energy, aside from a few scenes of her chanting an incantation, but again the screenplay is the true culprit here.

Also, Adam Beach is here as Slipknot, for only two minutes or less until his character dies with only a few words out of his mouth. What was the point of him being in the poster again? I saw a lot of posts on Facebook saying that he was the "highlight" of the movie, powered by an "amazing performance" by Adam Beach. On that day, I learned to differentiate pure sarcasm to actual praise by looking beyond the words on my computer screen. Seriously, he does not even get to have an origin story at the beginning, compared to the rest of the cast mates. While his character in the comics is very bad in terms of both power and characterization, given that he only uses powerful ropes to climb (and that is about it), it would have been pretty interesting to at least try to expand the character a little bit further by giving him a stand-out scene, or maybe a one-liner.

Production Value and Cinematography = (3/5)

Well this is, after all, a big-budget action movie, so I would expect some high quality production value. And the final result featured a bundle of stylish art direction, especially in the introductory origin story montage for all of our villains. The use of bright pink colors to imitate neon lights was all around eye-catching, and it really did reflect the psychotically humorous tone of the entire movie, which makes this a very good hook for audiences. It really did feel like a heist movie with superpowers.

In terms of the rendering of the computer generated imagery, it appears very frequently that it is incomplete, as if it is made for a cartoon rip-off. Some examples to back this up would be how Killer Croc is almost noticeably different, like how the colors of his scales change from dark green to bright yellow green in some scenes, notably in the climactic battle. Another evidence of this fault would have to be that in some cases, the mind-controlled citizens of Midway City look cartoonish, and in a lot of shots, they appear as dark silhouettes. Incubus is the worst of the worst among all the unpolished CGI creations, the Enchantress' brother, looks something straight out of a poorly made video game, as his appearance alone looks like a terrible mash between The Scorpion King from The Mummy 2, and Doomsday from Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice.

The direction and the editing of the movie felt pretty messy, as one can feel that the end result was indeed rushed for release. For instance, near the end of the movie after Amanda Waller is rescued from mind-related torture, she somehow gets to walk alright even after a lengthy battle. Normally, someone who experienced some torture related to this one would feel weak, but apparently Amanda Waller is so strong that she can simply threaten the entire Suicide Squad after a night of mental agony.

It is shown throughout the movie that the Enchantress is a goddess-type of villain who is very formal and sophisticated with her vocabulary, given that she does keep saying things in a Dracula-esque manner. However, by the conclusion of the climactic battle, with the Enchantress' weapon of mass destruction destroyed, she changes from a calm and mature villainess to a potty-mouthed crybaby as upon her defeat, she threatens Flag that he does not have the "parts" to kill her. I had to paraphrase so as to keep this website family-friendly, but you all know by now what "parts" I am referring to.

The action sequences are pretty much okay really. The hand-to-hand combat is enough to thrill audiences and to keep us distracted from the CGI nonsense of the rest of the movie. This is indeed true, especially in the final battle between the Suicide Squad and the Enchantress, although the lighting and the camera work would prevent moviegoers from really knowing what is going on. One example of this being in the Squad's entrance of Midway City, and their first encounter with the mind-controlled citizens. The darkness makes it really hard to make up what is going on.

Also, can the Enchantress take a break every once in a while from dancing while casting an enchantment? I am not joking, as in about the entire movie she is endlessly moving her hips.

Overall the editing and the direction could use some more polish, and the CGI could use some more tinkering as well, but it does not necessarily derail the movie.

Story, Dialogue and Flow = (3/5)

By now, you might already notice that in every movie review we make, I would always place emphasis on a film's story. Why I do this is because, well, stories are the lifelines of each flick, and without a cohesive and/or interesting plot, then the movie is slightly doomed, unless the director and the crew make the best out of it. In this movie, the plot is fun, engaging and full of interesting ideas, given that this is the first released movie based on comicbook supervillains, most of these are tragically wasted.

A lot of people claim that this is the DC Extended Universe version of the Marvel Cinematic Universe's Guardians of the Galaxy, as both films feature relatively then unknown and obscure characters, and both make use of humor as an essential part. However, unlike the latter flick, Suicide Squad failed to give each member of their team, including the main antagonist, a proper story arc, which makes them feel more like they are more or less shoehorned into the film for other fans to be intrigued.

We have already mentioned about all the underdeveloped characters in the movie in the first section of this movie review, but we have not tackled the Enchantress brick by brick. Let us start with the weakest antagonist the DCEU has to offer so far, the Enchantress. Again, like the other superhero movies released recently, the Enchantress basically has a recycled master plan to conjure, but has almost no backstory to fully explore the character's motivations and goals. Mind you that Guardians of the Galaxy also experienced the same thing with Ronan the Accuser, who is changed from a tyrannical figure in the comics, to a punchline who gets easily distracted by dancing. In the Enchantress' case, she mentions something about reclaiming her and Incubus' forgotten legacies as godlike beings among the people. It is a pretty cliched but an okay motivation at best, but the movie just leaves it there and adds absolutely nothing else to the character. It is as if the screenplay just gave up (then again, the script itself was made in less than two weeks, according to some sources).

Her sinister plan for conquest is also very unoriginal and very lackluster, as we are once again introduced to the done-to-death swirling vortex of doom in the sky, just like in The Avengers and FANT4STIC. Whilst Jesse Eisenberg's Lex Luthor's plan to manipulate Batman into killing Superman is convoluted beyond reason, the Enchantress' is straightforward and also vague, given that the script did not even bother to explain her ideas. It is overall very simplistic because of how much this plan has been done over and over again recently, and also really unclear. Why she kidnapped Amanda Waller and destroy the world's defenses is beyond me, although we could easily conclude that Earth would be easier to take over once the world has no contingencies left. Also, is the movie telling me that the Enchantress, an all-powerful magic user, can create parasites that can control people, and create a doomsday weapon out of nothing, but she cannot unleash hordes of supernatural monsters? Seriously, why make your forces fight with axes and guns, when you can just give them powers right now?

However, all of these negative aspects are not to say that the script did not have any great moments, because it did. For instance, the humor, evident in the dialogue, is really spot-on, and it is certainly one of the few times in modern superhero movies that the humor feels mostly natural and not forced. One example being, in my own very honest opinion, the part wherein the Squad hangs-out in a city bar after discovering what their true purpose is. It is a really heartwarming part, as we get to have more character development for both Deadshot and El Diablo. The humorous exchange between Killer Croc and Harley Quinn is also a barrel of laughter. The part wherein Flag introduces the Squad to "The Voice of God" is very funny as well. In some points, though, the humor can become out-of-place, with some instances being at the part wherein Harley Quinn references the voices in her head.

The origin story segments are also a delight to watch, especially Deadshot's part, as it contains some of the funniest moments in the entire movie.

How the movie introduces several supervillains into the shared universe, and how superheroes are made symbols of fear among the villains, supported by cameos from Ben Affleck's Batman and Ezra Miller's The Flash are great, as this leaves a lot of things to wait for, and brings a different perspective. Who knows? Maybe all of the still alive villains would band together again and form a Secret Society of Supervillains (If you know what I mean), or maybe an annexed version of the Suicide Squad, with other potential recruits.

Overall, the story is not as intriguing or interesting as that of Batman v. Superman's, and the lack of character development will bother viewers, but the dialogue and some other particularly amazing elements really helped shape this movie to a practically entertaining piece of film.

Also, this comment might feel bizarre, but honestly, I do not see the logic behind the team's formation. How can average metahumans and non-superpowered villains survive against a magical onslaught? And above all else, how can they fend-off the likes of Superman? I think I would rather see them do an assassination plot to overthrow the Queen Bee of Bialya and for the US government to steal the nation's experiments. Hey, that would sound like a great movie pitch!

Ending, Originality and Story Fulfillment = (4/5)

Well, we have now come to the concluding chapter of our movie review, and it is time to review the climactic battle between the Worst Heroes Ever, and Worst Villain Ever in a DC Movie. 

After reaching the Squad's primary target, the entire team is in for a shock when they discover that they are only an extraction team for Amanda Waller, who is trapped in Midway City at the time of the attack. This revelation is surprising, as in no way the movie gave any hints as to what is in store, but it was also fulfilling as this shows how far Amanda Waller will go just for her own agendas, whether or not this will help others, but one thing is for sure, it is for her country.

After an ambush by the Joker in an attempt to rescue Harley Quinn, only to be shot down by Waller's forces, Waller is kidnapped by the Enchantress for reasons unknown, because again, the script did not dabble in the intentions of the Enchantress. Things fall apart when Deadshot discovers a file on Rick Flag that details the profile of their enemy, who is also revealed to be Flag's girlfriend. (Gasp! Also, am I the only one bothered by this?) After getting enough motivation to fight again, the Squad assembles to launch their last stand against the Enchantress, who they track to a city subway.

Finally we get to the action! The Squad distracts the Enchantress and Incubus as Killer Croc and an out-of-place Scott Eastwood places a bomb underneath Incubus in order for the Squad to have one less demon to battle. After attempting to control Deadshot, Harley Quinn and El Diablo by making them believe that the Enchantress would grant them their deepest desires. Deadshot would be able to kill the Batman and be reunited with his daughter, Zoe. Harley would marry the Joker and have a baby together. Rick Flag would be able to spend the rest of his life with June Moone, while El Diablo would have reunited with his now dead family, whom he accidentally killed with his powers after a fit of rage. But El Diablo knows that this is all a lie, and after waking the rest of the team from the Enchantress' trances, El Diablo fends-off Incubus by becoming a fiery giant. This moment cements his status as one of the movie's highlights, and it only becomes disappointing once you realized that he is caught in the explosion meant for Incubus. Seriously, he should have survived, but hey, it is a comicbook movie after all.

Afterwards, we get to see the battle against the Enchantress, and it is awesome. The rainfall effects really reflects the seriousness of this finale, and how powerful the Enchantress can be. The hand-to-hand fights are really entertaining, and while the Enchantress still refuses to unleash her complete powers, she puts up a good fight.

Luckily, there is an explosive nearby, and after Killer Croc throws the device to the Enchantress' machine, which is being used to destroy the world's most powerful defense installations thanks to Waller's thought patterns, Deadshot shoots the bomb, causing the machine to fall down, and for the Enchantress to fall flat on her face. Defeated, the Enchantress plays some mind games before finally having Rick Flag get the last laugh by destroying the Enchantress' heart.

By the film's conclusion, we get to see the rest of the currently alive Squad members get their rewards, with Killer Croc getting a television set and a hamburger, Harley Quinn gets a coffee machine and Deadshot gets to visit his daughter, which is a particularly heartwarming scene and shows that Deadshot is more than just a contract killer who knows how to kill people from 4,000 feet away. For some reason, Captain Boomerang is the only one who does not have a reward. Was it because that he is indirectly responsible for Slipknot's death? The film concludes, at the backdrop of the great Bohemain Rhapsody, the Joker, predictably revealed to be alive, break Harley Quinn out.

Be sure to stay for the mid-credits scene, which proves that DC is holding nothing to become a worthy opponent to Marvel's growing franchise. Here, Bruce Wayne, played by Affleck (The Accountant) seeks some files for the locations of other potential Justice League members from Waller, who in turn asks for protection. This is not necessarily a great scene, but it does help tease what is to come, and is only made more exciting when Waller hints that she knows the alter ego of Bruce Wayne.

All-in-all, this was a fun movie to watch, and the ending was nothing special, but it is a fitting end to an amazing yet flawed installment. Here is to hoping that both Wonder Woman and Justice League really pave the way for better DC Movies.

Overall Evaluation = (4/5)

While it is most certainly not that The Dark Knight of the decade, and will not entertain some of our highest expectations, this film is a fun and the most lighthearted film in the franchise so far, in the most twisted sense possible.

TOTAL = 16/25 (Pleasant Entertainment)

A clearly distinctive and fresh outing for the DC Extended Universe, fueled by dark humor and quirky performances, Suicide Squad suffers from the bad case of an unpolished story and over-hype, but it is still a must-watch for all!

And that concludes our very lengthy and very detailed review of Suicide Squad. Be sure to listen to their official soundtrack on Spotify, because it really is catchy, even if I am not that kind of guy who likes modern music that much. Did you like Suicide Squad? Let us know in the comments. Also, be sure to listen to their songs. They are really good. And speaking of songs, here is a fan-made music video titled "Voices in My Head" made by Nerd Out! We hope you like it! Stay tuned for more Dateline Movies!


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