I have to be honest with you, I don’t think I’ve ever felt as adrift after watching a movie than I did upon leaving the theater after seeing Suicide Squad. This was a movie that has been savaged by critics and my expectations have been more and more underwhelmed by the trailers we’ve seen. So it was an interesting thing to find myself enjoying the movie and not being mad that I spent 2h10min watching.
This is not to say that the movie was an easy watch, or without flaws. Narratively this movie is so razor thin. Basically, Amanda Waller (Viola Davis) wants to put together a team of assets than can do good but be potentially deniable if things go bad, like say a a woman possessed by an ancient being called the Enchantress, decides to awaken her brother and end the world. That’s really all the story is, but its suped up by backstory and appearances by famous characters. There are other bland elements that are here, the bad guys are a faceless army, there’s a world destroying engine with a design that’s damn near exactly like the one in the dreadful Fantastic Four, and the way the backstories are employed is less than ideal. This movie is also, how can I say this…problematic in many areas concerning race and gender (which will prob come up on the next podcast.
But, if I haven’t lost you yet dear reader, the but is coming, Suicide Squad is the cinematic equivalent of pop music: superhero style. Even the Marvel films, for their brightness and lack of death, can’t match the sort of pop confection-y feeling that my liking Suicide Squad has left me with. Suicide Squad is like that ear worm pop song that you think is stupid or you bemoan the lost music of your youth, only to find yourself Diddy bopping in your car or jamming at a party. I don’t fault Suicide Squad for doing what other superhero movies have done in its construction, cause it certainly improved on the world engine and many other bland elements. Also, it doesn’t seem right to ding this movie for fitting into today’s landscape. For the first time since Man of Steel came out, DC leaned into the weirdness of a potential universe with these types of characters, and I, for one, will applaud that.
I was living for every moment of pure badassery that Viola Davis could show as Amanda Waller and the fun weirdness of Margot Robbie as Harley Quinn. I loved mega star Will Smith, using every bit of that charisma and tweaking it just enough that Headshot fit him like a glove, and allowed for a fine bromance with Rick Flagg (Joel Kinneman). Hell, this was the first time I’ve been able to tolerate Jai Courtney on a screen since season 1 of Spartacus! There were weird call backs to classic movies, such as the Enchantress’ Metropolis-like movements, that fascinated me through parts that were maybe moving slow. Above all, I liked the thinness of the narrative in that once the movie starts it just moves forward and at a solid pace. Have I mentioned that the closer superhero films are to the 2 hour mark the higher likelihood they are to be enjoyable?
Anyways, I would caution everyone to go into this film with your mind blank of expectations or past films. This might be difficult given the landscape, but Suicide Squad, for me, was a fun diversion and a not too bad time at the movies.