KEY CAST MEMBERS: Viola Davis, Margot Robbie, Will Smith, Jared Leto, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, Cara Delevingne, Shailyn Pierre-Dixon, Ike Barinholtz, Jai Courtney, Jay Hernandez, Joel Kinnaman, Karen Fukuhara, Scott Eastwood, Jim Parrack and Adam Beach
This “Suicide Squad” includes Floyd Lawton a.k.a. Deadshot (Will Smith), an assassin-for-hire who’s weakness is his love for his 11 year-old daughter (Shailyn Pierre-Dixon). There’s Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie), formerly known as psychologist Harleen Quinzell before falling in love with one of her patients at Arkham Asylum. Next up is Chato Santana a.k.a. El Diablo (Jay Hernandez), a literal human barbecue of former gangbanger given his inherent ability to cause damage with fire and Digger Harknesss a.k.a. Captain Boomerang (Jai Courtney), an Australian bank robber/assassin who never met a safe he didn’t want to steal.
Rounding out this merry mess are Waylon Jones, the “Killer Croc” who has the worst skin condition ever since no amount of ProActiv is going to reduce his reptilian features or cannibalistic nature and Dr. June Moore (Clara Delevingne). An archeologist in her past life, Moore’s body has since been inhabited by the Enchantress since she went and played Lara Croft in a cave tomb she shouldn’t have tried to raid. With Waller controlling the Enchantress’ heart, Commander Rick Flag (Joel Kinnaman) – the soldier assigned by Waller to lead the Task Force X team – has no choice but to look out for More’s heart since he is and has been in love with her for a long time. At least Flag has Katana (Karen Fukuhara) to watch his back with her mystical sword. What makes it mystical, you ask? Nothing other than the fact it traps the souls of everyone it kills, like that of her husband when he was killed with it by the man Katana obviously took revenge upon.
Offering each member of Task Force X time-off from their lengthy prison sentences if they agree to report for duty – and certain death if they disobey Flag or Waller at any time – it should go without saying many of our anti-heroes are reluctant to sign up. But once a major threat reveals itself, Task Force X is pressed into battle.
Whether or not they are prepared for the enigmatic lunatic known as the Joker (Jared Leto) – a.k.a. Harley Quinn’s “pudd’n” – when he comes to spring her, however, remains to be seen …
SO, IS IT GOOD, BAD OR ABSOLUTELY AWFUL? Given the overall response to its predecessor Batman Vs. Superman and that wave of less-than-stellar reviews from other outlets that don’t matter as nearly as much as this one, one might think Suicide Squad might be an aptly and unfortunately named prediction of your viewing experience at the theater. Fortunately, I can tell you that is the furthest thing from the truth.
Suicide Squad, which features the star-making turn from Robbie her supporters have long been waiting for in addition strong performers from Davis and Smith – is the most fun you’ll have at the movies this summer.
Writer/director David Ayer (whose last film was the forgotten 2014 Brad Pitt war-epic Fury) and his cast have seemingly done the impossible with Squad, creating a story that fits the conventional comic book canons while being accessible and enjoyable enough you don’t have to be this guy to enjoy it. And if you are that guy, you won’t hate it, either, thanks to a mix of humor, intense action, precisely inserted serious character backstories and music that all comes together for one fantastic fireball of an anti-hero story.
Robbie steals nearly every scene she’s in, delivering the definitive live-action Harley Quinn performance much like Heath Ledger did for the Joker in The Dark Knight. Knowing how to channel the parts of Quinn that are equally sexy, funny, lunatic and violent, Robbie is dynamite in making sure her character’s lovesick school girl goes beyond just a playful smile and adoring affection of the Joker. From her laughs and quirks to outbursts and combat skills, Robbie’s performance is a memorable one that will be remembered long after the final credits. While many people will come in wondering about Leto – who does a fine job with his cyberpunk Sid Vicious-style turn as the Joker (he’s not trying to be Ledger, thankfully, as much as he is just being his own insane version of the character) – they’ll leave thinking about how well he works with Robbie instead.
Likewise, Smith gives a great performance as the assassin-for-hire Deadshot, mixing in his Independence Day-style humor and quips while splicing in the dramatic tone and physical presence found in his more serious work such as Ali and Concussion. Smith plays off Kinnaman’s overwhelmed Flag and Davis’ strong-jawed Waller well, providing a great agitator (both verbally and in terms of skill level) to both while keeping the story moving along. Smith’s interactions with Pierre-Dixon – who delivers a strong performance in her own right – are priceless, proving once again just how well he works with kids … Save for that After Earth movie.
The actor who gives their character the deepest emotional connection to the audience, however, comes from Jay Hernandez. Hernandez gives El Diablo – who could easily be a one-note, forgettable character in the story – a significant sense of a fully-rounded character as the only member of the team who hates their abilities because of all the personal pain he has caused. Hernandez’s commitment to making you feel his character’s grief and personal turmoil only makes his overall increasing role in the story that much greater, leading to a perfectly-paced payoff that comes together in a blaze of glory (pun intended). While some fans will no doubt clamor for more from Fukuhara and Courtney’s characters, Hernandez more than capably illustrates why it’s not necessarily to give everything away at once and how great it can be once a side character finally gets their moment.
Then again, this all falls back upon the strong script and environment delivered by Ayer, who makes sure every moment of Squad means something to the overall package. From clever and well-placed music selection that become as much as part of the environment as the characters their selves to special effects that actually are, Ayer may have many fans longing for him to do every D.C. Comics movie for the foreseeable future. Make no mistake: This film isn’t exactly kids stuff despite its PG-13 rating as there are plenty of bullets, knife/sword fights, kicks, punches and foul language to make even Tony Stark blush. However, if you are looking for a film that truly embraces its lunacy and invites you to do the same, Suicide Squad will be a Blu-Ray worthy addition to your movie collection once you’re done enjoying it on the big screen.
While Marvel remains the king on top of the comic book movie mountain, Suicide Squad gives hope to long-suffering D.C. Comics’ fans their favorite superheroes and villains may finally get the justice (ok, that time the pun wasn’t intended) they deserve.