Suicide Squad

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A Zack Snyder movie in disguise.
★★★
Movie Review #1,082

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Distributed by Warner Bros. Action, Adventure, Fantasy. Running time: 2 hours, 3 minutes. Rated PG-13 for sequences of violence and action throughout, disturbing behavior, suggestive content and language. Released August 5, 2016. Directed by David Ayer. Produced by Charles Roven and Richard Suckle. Written by David Ayer. Starring Will Smith, Margot Robbie, Viola Davis, David Harbour, Jared Leto, Jai Courtney, Ezra Miller, Jay Hernandez, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, Cara Delevingne, Joel Kinnaman, Scott Eastwood, and Adam Beach.

“The world changed when Superman flew across the sky.  And then it changed again when he didn’t.  And that is why I’m here.” – Viola Davis as Amanda Waller

The first thing worth mentioning in a review of “Suicide Squad” is its style.  David Ayer is at the helm here, but we definitely get the sense that he’s emulating the work of Zack Snyder, who produced the film.  The concept of aesthetically piecing together an action movie with older rock music is something with which Snyder experimented in “Watchmen”.  Being a sucker for this era of music, I have to say that this is one of the greatest soundtracks I’ve heard in a while, and it works quite well with the film.  Ayer draws us into “Suicide Squad” with the Animals’ “House of the Rising Sun” in the background, and he keeps us with more from that ilk, including the Rolling Stones’ “Sympathy for the Devil” and Creedence Clearwater Revival’s “Fortunate Son”.

Visually, however, “Suicide Squad” seems reminiscent of Snyder’s “Sucker Punch”.  There’s no better word to describe how the film looks than “trippy.”  Scenes with bleak visual tones are cut back-to-back with scenes that gloss over each frame with psychedelic hues of purple and pink and green.  It develops the movie in a creepy and warped but undeniably cool way.  Up until the finale, when the climactic action scenes begin to appear as if copied and pasted directly from a video game, the contrast between these two distinct visual atmospheres is beautiful.

More than anything, “Suicide Squad” is an intriguing film.  The story begins shortly after the death of Superman, as seen earlier this year in “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice”.  The titular group is formally referred to as Task Force X, a team of six dangerous felons who are assembled by the U.S. government to be used as disposable pawns in a series of risky operations.  If they take on these missions, they’re more than likely going to be killed, but if they refuse or give up on any of their assignments, a nano bomb in their necks is going to detonate anyway.

“Suicide Squad” is a very entertaining movie, and that’s somewhat due to its cast.  Viola Davis offers an enticing character that stands for corruption within the government.  Her character, Amanda Waller, has organized Task Force X as a means of preserving justice, and there’s no doubt her intentions with these missions are 100% sociopathic.  Better yet is Margot Robbie, who makes a terrific Harley Quinn.  Robbie makes being a bad guy (or bad girl) look super sexy.  She turns an archetypal super villain role into something that feels delightfully and genuinely over-the-top.

A smaller but equally memorable role is that of her husband, the Joker.  Comparing Jared Leto to any other Joker we’ve seen in the past is futile, given how divergent his character is from our traditional understanding of the character.  However, if I had to rank his performance, I’d put him right below Heath Ledger.  The upsetting side of his role is that Leto is used essentially as a plot device.  I wanted to see more of the Joker here.  I hear rumors of a Harley Quinn spinoff film, though, and one could only hope for it.  Given that “Suicide Squad” wouldn’t have been nearly the same without Leto or Robbie, I have high expectations.

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