Suicide Squad

Suicide Squad ★★★★

Two viewings make all the difference.

David Ayers' SUICIDE SQUAD, at its heart, is a love story on four fronts, using four characters who are considered the "worse of the worse" of society within the DC universe. But said love stories humanizes these low lives (without excusing their past transgression) in direct juxtaposition to the people in the position of power, who are suppose to protect us but in reality, because of said power, can be more dangerous than the scum of society.

And it's a shit ton of fun along the way.

Like Ficarra and Requa's FOCUS (2015), which also starred superstars Will Smith and Margot Robbie (two of our four main characters), the real purpose/point of the film sneaks up on you in a very organic way that doesn't feel heavily handed one bit. But once you see the thematics working and coming to the their rightful conclusion, it makes the action, story, and world building of the DC universe seems worth the ride.

Yes, the specific plot of this film, which starts out promising and begins ultimately where Zack Snyder's BATMAN v SUPERMAN Dawn of Justice (2016) left off because almost inconsequential once the villain's plan takes affect. It doesn't really have the dramatic thrust that the film needs to get us the third act but luckily, because of the all star and diverse cast of actors that Ayers' has assemble, they do the bulk of the heavily lifting. And boy, do they deliver.

Will Smith has never been better. This is a dynamite performance by one of the few movie stars we have left on the planet. It's nuanced, funny, and purposeful. He doesn't ring false in one frame of this picture. Easily Will Smith's best action performance since I AM LEGEND (2007).

Margot Robbie continues her rise as one of the best actresses working today. Different from role to role, film to film, her Harley Quinn steals the show. Her story and her character is very complex and multi-layered that requires a ton of tonal shifts subtly to pull this off. And she nails it in spades. You couple that with her already great on screen chemistry with Will Smith and her explosive chemistry with Jared Leto's Mr. J and what you have here exceptional. She's a ton of fun and she's completely committed the maniac that is Harley Quinn.

Jay Hernandez as El Diablo is the surprise of the picture. He gets a fascinating and heart breaking character arc, along with the show-stopping big moment of the climax. Per the trailers, you'd just figured this character was dead meat very early on in this picture but David Ayers clearly has a lot of love for El Diablo. It's a character and performance I wasn't ready for but glad that it's in the picture that's stuff to the gills with characters.

Viola Davis is queen as Amanda Waller. While not the primary villain of the piece, she is the villain of the piece. She is the embodiment of one of the central themes of the picture. If this is her introduction into the DC Universe, I hope we get more of her because she's fantastic.

And now to Jared Leto's Mr. J. It took a second viewing but Leto's Joker is fantastic. I don't care about the on set antics and whatnot. I care about what's on the screen and what's on the screen is a Joker I've never witnessed before. He's crime boss gangster who's basically love sick. Some will criticize the film for soften the edges of the Joker but I don't think that's correct. It's just another aspect of this 75 year-old character that's never been portrayed before. It was rather stark to see a love story featuring the Joker but that's what we got here. It's a fascinating, tangential story that you could've easily deleted from the picture but it does beef up the central theme of the picture. We get just enough of Mr. J. and frankly, if we're all honest, not enough. That's how interesting his take on the character is. And it's different than the rest that have come before.

The action is decent. The production design and cinematography are solid and tactile in its execution. The musical cues ape Gunn's GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY (2014) but not with the same amount of success of that particular picture but the try is admirable.

In the end, the overarching DC universe story is moving forward into focus. And while, in theory, you could easily skip this film from BATMAN v SUPERMAN to Zack Snyder's JUSTICE LEAGUE (2017), it does enough interesting and logical world building within the narrative to justify watching it later down the road. More important, I think it mostly leads to Ben Affleck's solo Batman film. And that's the most promising thing coming out of this picture. The table is set for JUSTICE LEAGUE but it's also set for THE BATMAN.

The DC Extended Universe is 3 for 3 in my book. Onward to Patty Jenkins' very important picture, next June...WONDER WOMAN.

Great fun with a surprising emotional core, you don't want to miss SUICIDE SQUAD.