There was a lot of hype leading up to the release of this summer’s Suicide Squad movie, and a lot of it centered around Jared Leto’s interpretation of the Joker. But does the movie actually live up to the hype? Well, it’s not as clear cut as a simple yes or no, but suffice to say, it remains entertaining for the majority of the movie.

As the trailers have shown, the government creates a group of villains to go and fight against threats that require the use of meta humans (what DC refers to their super heroes as, even if they aren’t all genetically different, such as the case with Deadshot in this movie or Batman in the DC universe) and if anything goes wrong, they can be blamed. So, a group is assembled by Amanda Waller (played by Viola Davis), who is a no nonsense woman and she is going to get what she wants by any means necessary. She is ruthless and always in control.

squad goals

Squad goals, as long as you don’t really want to know half of your squad

 

That control leads her to knowing how to control these super villains. But who are the super villains? First up is Deadshot (Will Smith), a hit man who never misses his target. I had reservations about Will Smith playing a villain, I simply never pictured him being a bad guy. Luckily, he’s not a ruthless killer, and has a backstory involving his daughter who he wants to get back to. He is also really funny, and they knew how to take advantage of his comedic side for this movie.

Then there’s Harley Quinn, former psychiatrist at Arkham Asylum turned lover of the Joker. Margot Robbie does a respectable job as the popular character, though, she can’t ever seem to maintain her accent, which goes from mild to heavy New York City without warning. We never really are told how/why she falls for the Joker, and there was some confusion with parts of their back story, but as a whole, they worked well together. She’s quirky and fun, and together, her and the Joker are a good pair for future movie appearances.

Which leads me to the Joker. The much anticipated, controversial, and hyped portrayal of the classic villain. How did he live up to expectations? With just a mere 15 minutes of screen time (if that), he nearly stole the show for me. Yes, he has all the tattoos, but they weren’t distracting or even that noticeable (at least the face ones weren’t) during the movie. It’s his personality and charisma that has led me to believe he will be nothing short of fantastic in a Batman movie (I’m hoping for the Batman movie to be a prequel of sorts, so we can see what the Joker did to Robin, which was briefly alluded to in Batman vs. Superman). However, with all of the promotional material highlighting the Joker, it really is a shame he had just 15 minutes on screen. Surely, there must have been a way to have given him a lot more time and woven him into the plot more.

joker harley car

Joker and Harley all like, where’d your scenes go Mr. J?

 

There were also some other characters, including Killer Croc (a guy who looks like a crocodile and can breathe underwater), El Diablo (can create fire and had a really exciting reveal at the end of the movie), Katana (she has a sword that traps the souls of those killed by it, but she sort of just showed up right before the mission), Captain Boomerang (he throws a boomerang, exciting), and Slipknot (he climbs things, really, that’s it). And they’re all led by Rick Flag, who was handpicked by Waller to lead the mission (Waller also got him to fall in love with June Moone, who is possessed by an evil witch by the name of Enchantress, also part of the Squad). So yes, there are a lot of excess characters, mainly Boomerang, Slipknot, and Katana.

While the characters were pretty entertaining, the actual plot wasn’t. Yes, there’s a lot of action, but it doesn’t feel that exciting most of the time. The most tense scenes were Joker flashback scenes (notably one in a club with him and Harley). The actual mission led them to having to fight an evil being, whose motivation wasn’t very interesting, and her backstory was paper thin. Adding to that, the villain (purposely not saying who it is, but you can probably guess) decided her weapon to destroy the world would be a big blue, glowing energy storm, which could have shown up in pretty much any sci-fi movie in the past decade. This made the whole journey a bit disappointing. Luckily, the characters interacted well together, and for the most part, the comedy worked well. I just can’t help but feel there were multiple opinions on what direction the movie should go in, resulting in some awkward pacing and tonal changes.

joker and harley at club

Never knowing what the Joker will do next

At some points it would be very stylistic, taking advantage of the movie’s soundtrack nearly anywhere it could  (I don’t think I have ever heard so many songs played in a movie) and using fun camera work. Then other parts it would become oddly plain. Out of all the DC movies so far, this one suffered the most from its grey color palette. There is also one line of dialogue the main villain says at the very end that felt really out of place and awkward, especially considering the little backstory we are given for the character.

Ultimately, as an introduction to the DC cinematic universe, the main characters – Deadshot, Harley, and Joker – had a strong introduction. Each with interesting personalities, a lot of charisma, and the studio should be happy they are also big names. It was nice to see some more comedic elements, especially since they worked well. Unfortunately, the story wasn’t able to live up to the characters, but fortunately, the characters made up for that. Now the wait for a solo Batman movie begins, and hopefully it will have the Joker in it.

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