For decades we’ve been saturated with stories of good vs evil. From superhero teams such as the Fantastic Four, The Avengers, X-Men, Justice League, so on and so forth, the idea of a superhero team up to save the world from evil is one that we’ve become accustomed to. What happens then if the superheroes we need are no longer around? Who do we turn to?
The highly anticipated, eagerly awaited, Warner Bros Pictures film, Suicide Squad, answers those questions by suggesting an alternative: a team of antiheroes.
Suicide Squad is superhero action film directed by David Ayer and is based on the antihero characters created by DC Comics. Starring a stellar cast comprising of some of the entertainment industry’s heavyweights including Will Smith, Viola Davis, Margot Robbie and Jared Leto, Suicide Squad is jam packed with stunning action, brilliant acting, fantastic visuals and a sizzling soundtrack to boot.
Upon its release, critics worldwide provided incredibly mixed reviews of the film, leaning more towards the negative. After watching the film at the preview screening last night, I beg to differ. Much like Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, I enjoyed Suicide Squad. In fact, I loved Suicide Squad. Dare I say, I enjoyed it far more than I did Captain America: Civil War and consider it a film worth re-watching, buying on Blu-Ray/DVD and recommending to others.
Right from the get go, Suicide Squad caught my interest and demanded my attention. The opening sequence in which Amanda Waller (Viola Davis) pitches her idea of putting together a team of bad guys is spot on and extremely well done. The graphics illustrating key characteristics about each member of the Suicide Squad was eye catching, the costumes totally awesome, and the action sequences showcasing the background of each character depicted just how badass they are.
The film’s plot is intriguing. After the events of Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, Superman is no more and apart from Batman, there aren’t any super powered heroes around to save the world from powerful creatures and menacing alien beings. Amanda Waller, takes measures into her own hands, assembling Task Force X a.k.a the Suicide Squad, a group of villainous and disposable ‘bad guys’ with a unique set of skills, to save the world.
The members of the Suicide Squad are the best of the best, being the most skilled villains in their field, and consist of Deadshot (Will Smith), a sharp shooting, hired assassin who never misses a shot; Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie), a deranged lunatic with an interesting attitude and a deep love for The Joker (Jared Leto); Captain Boomerang (Jai Courtney), an Australian thief with a penchant for sharp boomerangs; Killer Croc (Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje) a reptilian man with great strength; El Diablo (Jay Hernandez), a man made of uncontrollable fire power; Katana (Karen Fukuhara), a Japanese swordswoman with great skill; Enchantress (Cara Delevingne) a formidable witch; and their leader, or rather, their babysitter whose main job is to keep these baddies in check, Rick Flagg (Joel Kinnaman), a superb U.S. soldier.
The film is set up well, driving the plot forward with excellent narrative and scene sequences depicting just how ruthless Amanda Waller is and the way in which she controls both Rick Flagg and the Suicide Squad. The initial resistance by the team members and the way in which their personalities comes across in the film paints the perfect picture of the difficulty in trying to rehabilitate criminals. The use of their weaknesses as a method to control them, shows just how far Amanda Waller is willing to go and also points out that these criminals are only human at the end of the day, even Killer Croc. Suicide Squad illustrated the concept that despite being very bad people, each of the characters still possessed some of their humanity and felt guilt and remorse for some of their wrongdoings. Despite their own interests, they were able to see the bigger picture and were able to judge what was most important, saving the world from destruction.
It is this humanity element that made Suicide Squad special in my eyes. It was touching to see a man as terrible as Deadshot, who kills people for a living, live by a code of not killing women and children and cares immensely for his daughter, so much so that he does what he does to provide a better life for her. El Diablo, too, who has the capability to incinerate an entire group of people, made a conscious effort to change his ways upon feeling the tremendous guilt and loss of his family. Even though Captain Boomerang is simply out for himself 99% of the time, he does show sympathy for El Diablo upon hearing his tragic tale. These little moments were crucial in making the Suicide Squad’s mission feel achievable. They may be bad guys, but they can do good too.
The best part about Suicide Squad is, of course, Harley Quinn and the Joker. The film informs us with flashback sequences of how Dr. Harleen Quinzel fell under the Joker’s spell and went on to become his Queen, Harley Quinn. Originating from Batman: The Animated Series, the origins of Harley Quinn was always assumed to be due to her love for the Joker. In Suicide Squad, the love was already there but her mental faculties seemed to have been lost after the Joker performs electric shock therapy on her and compels her to fall into a toxic vat of acid. Apart from the origin story, Harley Quinn in Suicide Squad is true to the animated series version that I grew up with. Margot Robbie cannot be praised enough for her superb job bringing such a fantastic character to life. From her mannerisms to her voice, everything about Robbie’s take on Harley Quinn was exactly as I expected, if not more. There were some bits in the film where her accent changed but was masked by her outstanding performance overall.
The Joker, on the other hand, was a polar opposite to the Jokers I’ve seen in previous adaptations. Jared Leto’s Joker is much to gangster/ mob boss. From the tattoos all over his body to the grills on his teeth and his evil, terrifying laugh, Suicide Squad’s version of the Joker is creepy, scary and a whole lot of crazy and that’s not necessarily a bad thing. What was really refreshing about this Joker is that despite being a psychotic villain, he cared about Harley Quinn and went to great lengths to rescue her, going so far as to dress up in a tux for her too. This was more than any other Joker had ever done for his ‘Queen’.
One of the things that was rather disturbing, as pointed out to me by my partner, is that there were no actual heroes around to help fight the evil villain of the film, despite Batman obviously being in town and another Justice League member clearly being active, upon arresting Captain Boomerang. Where were these heroes? The film showed that they existed, or at least, were coming into existence, but did not explain why they couldn’t assist in the fight against a being so powerful that it could destroy anyone or anything. With regular references of meta-humans being made, surely one of them was strong enough and good enough to raise their hand to help. In fact, there wasn’t much of the public shown in the film too. It was almost as if there was no one around bar the Suicide Squad, the heads and small teams of the U.S. military and Amanda Waller.
While this is a question worth pondering with films such as Suicide Squad, the film itself as a whole was well done, with seamless scenes, fantastic characters, great visual effects that were eye-catching, and a soundtrack to beat all soundtracks (in my opinion). I loved the mix of contemporary music with instrumental compositions. The addition of Queen’s ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ was just top notch and only made the Suicide Squad all the more fun and worth the watch.
Suicide Squad was everything that I wanted in a superhero film. Sure there wasn’t enough of the Joker, or Batman, but that should be reserved for a Batman film. As a film about antiheroes, Suicide Squad ticked all the right boxes and paved the way for new good vs evil stories, wherein bad guys are shown to have some humanity, are able to be rehabilitated and shows the world that sometimes very bad guys can do some very good things.
*For more pop culture and anime rantings and reviews, check out my blog, The Vanguard.
Released: August 2016
Running Time: 123 minutes
Director: David Ayer
Producer: Charles Roven, Richard Suckle
Starring: Will Smith, Jared Leto, Margot Robbie, Joel Kinnaman, Viola Davis, Jai Courtney, Jay Hernandez, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, Ike Barinholtz, Scott Eastwood, Cara Delevingne
Distributor: Warner Bros.