‘Suicide Squad’ Review: It Should Have Been R-rated

Before I start let me say that for DC comic book fans I recommend seeing the film no-question. For non-comic book fans you might find a little harder time enjoying this one.

I’m still a bit perplexed on how to gauge DC’s latest installment in Suicide Squad. I absolutely loved Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice and I went into SS with equal enthusiasm. However, after leaving the theater early this morning I wasn’t nearly as amped as I was after watching two hours and change of Bats vs Supes (with a splash of Wonder Woman). Instead, I was left thinking what if.

What if this movie had been R-rated? How much better would it have been? And that’s how Suicide Squad left me – half satisfied. Not a bad film. An entertaining one to say the least, but even as a comic book fan and a DC movie universe believer I felt this movie missed its marked largely due to it playing it safe with a PG-13 rating.

The first half of the film is phenomenal. The introductions for each character is one of the most riveting portions of the movie and home to the most enjoyable scenes. This is in large part due to the killer soundtrack (pun intended). Arguably the most impressive score of the summer and the first movie since Guardians of the Galaxy that left me thinking I should download the soundtrack ASAP. The opening scene with the ominous melody of The Animals “House of the Rising Sun” completely sets the tone for the movie.

However, that tone is often times riddled with hiccups and miscues. This isn’t cause so much by a lack of plot development (this is an action movie after all) but rather tittering on the line of adult humor and teen-approved violence. It is difficult to fully capture the insanity and brutality of these characters without copious amounts of bloodshed and cussing.

The film tries to humanize the antiheroes too much. While a good idea it conflicts with the dialogue in the movie. The characters often speak to one another with a light jailbird, ghetto-like lingo that gives the film a little edge. However, with the training wheels on (courtesy of the rating) this comes off as stereotypical and forced rather than natural conversation among lunatics and sociopaths from various criminal backgrounds.

In addition I believe the absence of complete unfiltered violence is what turns this film into a marginally liked blockbuster rather than an instant cult classic. There are far too many scenes where a line is forced or an action sequence just doesn’t have the same influence over you it would have if blood spattered across Katana’s mask as she sliced and diced enemies.

I’m not a mega-supporter of ultra-violent movies, but there are certain films that are better off being such. Suicide Squad is one of those films. It is a movie about thieves, murderers, and gangsters. Most of which are barely known outside of the comic book world. Instituting a filter was the film’s biggest flaw.

Keeping the action and the dialogue PG and then suddenly having Harley Quinn curse at the end of a fight comes off strange. There’s a lack of fluency in the movie because of this. It doesn’t do the character’s justice, it doesn’t do the fans justices and it certainly doesn’t help DC’s case to win the uphill battle against the Marvel movie-making machine.

This movie’s cast is filled with crude, violent and uncompromising villains it needed to come off the same way. Unfortunately, Suicide Squad missed its mark.

All this withstanding I still would recommend seeing it especially if you love yourself some Harley Quinn, but be forewarned I have a feeling you’re going to have the same thought I did when I left the movie theater – how soon until the director’s cut is available?

Overall: 7.5/10 – I can’t knock the soundtrack nor the memorable performances put in by Margot Robbie, Viola Davis and Will Smith. The trio carries the film and there’s plenty of one-liners that leave you chuckling.  The soundtrack is there; the action is there it just falls flat on execution. I think fans will appreciate it, but that will be the extent of its success. I can only hope the director’s cut has an R-rated version that releases the true potential of this film and its characters.

 

***SPOILERS FROM HERE ON OUT. I REPEAT SPOILER ALERT. Here’s my breakdown of each of actor/actress’s portrayal of their character(s) in the film. If you’ve seen the movie I recommend reading on if not best not push forward until you do***

 

Will Smith – Deadshot

Not going to front here, Will Smith was the ace of the film. His one-liners were some of the most memorable in the film and he does a brilliant job portraying Deadshot who’s about an 80/20 split between deadly assassin and family man. I was nervous the movie would sympathize too much with his character being a father. But they do a employ a nice hybrid of both; leaning mostly towards the killer inside him rather than his consequential title of Dad. He does a good job acting as the non-official leader of the group, but his best scene was easily when he stood on top a police car gunning down dozens of Enchantress cronies as if it was just another day in the office.

Margot Robbie – Harley Quinn

Big Willie might have been the ace, but Robbie stole the show. Both her Harley Quinzel and Harley Quinn are spot on. I”m not a huge Harley Quinn fan, but she does a fantastic job with the sadistic wisecracks. And she tackles the difficult task of blending the sex symbol and mentally unstable facets of Quinn’s character that have made her such a favorite among fans brilliantly.  Similar to how Hugh Jackman owns Wolverine and how Heath Ledger’s Joker has become the standard, I believe Robbie just set the tone for Harley Quinn for decades to come.

Jared Leto – The Joker

Speaking of the Joker…honestly I thought this film could’ve used a lot less Leto. That isn’t anything against Leto’s depiction of the Clowned Prince of Crime but rather the film’s constant need to ride the tormented relationship between Harley and the Joker. In my opinion the film would’ve been better off leaving Leto’s appearance in the film to two scenes; the flashback in the beginning of the film and his reappearance at the end. These two moments for Leto’s Joker  would’ve sufficed. The constant screen time of the Joker wasn’t organic to the film. Robbie puts on a heck of a show as a capable Harley and I felt the movie would’ve been fine with the initial intro of the couple’s backstory,  (possibly) her flashback with him, and the closing scene. Everything else in-between made the movie feel like the Harley-Joker show rather than the Suicide Squad movie. All that being said, Leto’s gangster-heavy rendition of the Joker will likely anger a few fans, but it goes with the movie’s vibe. It has a criminal-heavy tone, so naturally the Joker is going to be crime lord more so than criminal mastermind. Personally I didn’t mind it and I can definitely let it slide since Leto’s jester laugh rivals Mark Hammil’s.

Viola Davis – Amanda Waller

Amanda Waller in the comics is utterly ruthless. And Davis’ portray is spot-on. Waller is hated by villains and readers alike for her apathy. It makes her one of the most interesting characters in Suicide Squad’s story with her ability to constantly be a step-ahead of the squad and her uncanny knack for one-upping them in terms of unfavorable actions. She undermines everyone and everything. The scene when she kills her entire unit after telling them to wipe the hardrives clean and “destroy the evidence” sums up Waller in a nutshell. She doesn’t care about who or what dies. She does her job on her terms and her terms only. It’s what makes Waller detested. It’s what also makes her the best choice to organize a team of killers, she shares the same warped sense of morality. Needless to say Davis absolutely nails the character.

Karen Fukuhara – Katana

Didn’t mind her role as a support specialist for Waller and Rick Flag but as I mentioned before the movie loses a lot of luster for Katana’s slicing and dicing without the gore. Her scenes in the comics are flooded with brutality. I mean she has a cursed blade and to not show the unadulterated extent of her abilities as an assassin was a huge disappointment for me. Nothing against Fukuhara’s performance here, but rather the studio’s direction to play it safe.

Adewale Akinnouye-Agbaje – Killer Croc

I was skeptical of Killer Croc going into the film. But Akinnouye-Agbaje does about a good enough job as he could with the limited scenes he had. I wished the movie had a few more fight scenes with Killer Croc especially underwater, but his role wasn’t too shabby. Although the bar scene where he calls Harley “shorty” was a bit comical, the movie does a good job showcasing Waylon Jones early transformation. He isn’t completely reptile and predatory yet – he’s still a human dealing with his transformation and I felt the movie did about a good enough job as they could highlighting this.

Jay Hernadez – Diablo

At first I loved the involvement of Diablo. The movie slowly brings him on as troubled ex-gangbanger who happens to be a highly powerful metahuman. However, when Diablo finally shows off his powers I felt his actions scenes didn’t quite match the hype the movie built up for him. They put him on a pedestal in terms of firepower and his abilities don’t quite live up to the expectations.

Cara Delevingne – Enchantress

I’m still very surprised that the movie went with her as the main villain. In many ways I think that’s a large reason this movie is falling flat with a lot of its audience. Villains make heroes. The stronger the villain the more potent the film’s punch. Enchantress’ powers are more than capable, but she’s not well known enough to take over the role of lead antagonist in a movie of this magnitude. A large portion of the audience can’t relate to who she is or the full scope of her powers. That withstanding, Delevinge does a great job of playing both the Enchantress and the possessed body of June Moore. Although I loved the ghostly, demonic imagery of the Enchantress much more than her post-reincarnated form. The early ghoul-like Enchantress truly captures her role as a witch hundred times better than her appearance as a Mayan sorceress later in the film.

Jai Courtney – Captain Boomerang

I definitely wished Cpt. Boomerang would’ve had more lines, but his comedic relief was one of the more entertaining portions of the movie. Nothing tops his introduction in the movie. Seeing Barry Allen capture him in the beginning half was one my favorite parts of the film. It was definitely nerdy Easter egg heaven.

 

Cover photo courtesy of Wiki Commons

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