Author’s Note: I know this review might seem a little late, but it’s something I’ve been wanting to do since I saw the movie, and it’s for a journalism class, so two birds, one stone! Let’s begin.
After a solid year of hype, trailers, and much excitement, Suicide Squad was released on August 5, 2016. How did my expectations stand up to reality? Not well.
I’ll start with the cinematic side. As soon as characters started to be introduced I knew that this would be more, “Deadshot, Harley Quinn, and Others!” than Suicide Squad. Each character was given a brief introduction via rock montage, but only Deadshot (played by Will Smith) and Harley Quinn (played by Margot Robbie) got detailed backstory exposition. Later in the movie, El Diablo (played by Jay Hernandez) gets a little extra attention, but it’s not much. Also, the Joker (played by Jared Leto), arguably the most hyped character in the trailers, probably got about five to ten minutes of actual screen time. None of the acting was particularly bad, it was just…okay. Margot Robbie is the strongest actress in the movie, and captures the character of Harley Quinn. Will Smith doesn’t disappoint, but he doesn’t necessarily feel like a villainous mercenary. Come to think of it, none of the Suicide Squad members felt truly villainous. Even the Joker seemed more like a predictable crime lord and less like an unpredictable psychopath. Speaking of predictable…
The plot was definitely safe and uninspired: American city is threatened by supernatural entity, ragtag group goes to save the day, “all hope is lost” moment, and then happy ending. Yawn. Which was supremely disappointing. This movie could have been an amazing opportunity to subtly critique America’s track record of hiring less-than-stellar people to do our dirty work, and how that can really backfire. Instead, DC played it safe and decided that the bad guys would just be the good guys after all! No moral conflicts, or arguments about if the ends do justify the means here! They attempted to make the U.S. government look untrustworthy, but even that felt reigned in. They also had a great chance to examine abusive relationships via the Joker and Harley Quinn. Did they do that? Nope! Those two seemed more like the “edgy” couple that spends a lot of time at Hot Topic than dysfunctional and toxic. There are brief flashes hinting at the Joker’s abuse and manipulation, but nothing truly unsettling.
Although the plot and characterization felt rushed and shallow, I can’t say I’m mad I watched it. It’s a generic summer-popcorn-action movie that suffered from too much hype. If I had watched it on Netflix I would be less disappointed.
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Thanks for reading, and I hope you stick around.