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Suicide Squad
Studio: Warner Bros. Pictures
Release Date: August 5th, 2016

From director David Ayer (Fury, End of Watch) comes Suicide Squad, starring Oscar nominee Will Smith (Ali, The Pursuit of Happyness), Oscar winner Jared Leto (Dallas Buyers Club), Margot Robbie (The Wolf of Wall Street, Focus), Joel Kinnaman (Run All Night, The Killing) and Oscar nominee Viola Davis (The Help, Doubt).

It feels good to be bad

... Assemble a team of the world's most dangerous, incarcerated Super Villains, provide them with the most powerful arsenal at the government's disposal, and send them off on a mission to defeat an enigmatic, insuperable entity. U.S. intelligence officer Amanda Waller has determined only a secretly convened group of disparate, despicable individuals with next to nothing to lose will do. However, once they realize they weren't picked to succeed but chosen for their patent culpability when they inevitably fail, will the Suicide Squad resolve to die trying, or decide it's every man for himself?

Written and directed by Ayer based on the characters from DC Comics, the film also stars Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje (Thor: The Dark World), Jay Hernandez (Takers), Ike Barinholtz (Neighbors), Jai Courtney (Insurgent) and Scott Eastwood (Fury). It is produced by Charles Roven and Richard Suckle, with Zack Snyder, Deborah Snyder, Colin Wilson and Geoff Johns serving as executive producers. Ayer's behind-the-scenes creative team includes director of photography Roman Vasyanov (Fury, End of Watch), production designer Oliver Scholl (Edge of Tomorrow), editor John Gilroy (Pacific Rim), costume designer Kate Hawley (The Hobbit Trilogy) and Oscar-nominated visual effects supervisor Jerome Chen (Stuart Little, Fury, The Amazing Spider-Man films). The music is by Oscar-winning composer Steven Price (Gravity).

By Jon Falcone

After focusing on Batman and Superman for the first two efforts of its burgeoning DC Extended Universe movie series, Warner Bros. decided to take a risk with Suicide Squad. This big summer blockbuster attempted to flip the superhero movie genre on its head by throwing the focus on a team of bad guys instead of following do-gooder four-color heroes. The lineup was a comic book fan's dream of DC Comic's biggest bad guys: Deadshot! Harley Quinn! Killer Croc! Captain Boomerang! The Joker! And it had David Ayer, one of the more unique directors in Hollywood, to put it all together. What could possibly go wrong? Well ...

While Suicide Squad "attempts" to flip the genre, as I said, it really doesn't succeed. At least not entirely. The first half of the movie is legitimately enjoyable, and I could recommend Suicide Squad for just that. It's funny, it's offbeat, it's dark and it's an absolute ton of fun. Ayer creates a world of candy coated wickedness and it works great. He doesn't go for a dark, 'Zack Snyder'-esque tone, opting instead for a darkly funny feel. These are characters that love being bad, and they love showing it. The problem comes in the second half, when the movie turns into a standard comic book movie with a predictable CGI-filled climax. Remember how The Wolverine had a good setup and then spoiled it with a run of the mill climax? Imagine if that climax was the entire second half of the movie. It's not that it's terrible; the issue is that the movie fails to live up to its promise of being a genre-changing movie. Task Force X teaming up to fight The Incubus is really no different than the Avengers fighting the Chitauri. It's a very disappointing payoff after some great buildup.

>One of the bigger problems with Suicide Squad is that it simply doesn't know what it wants to be. As I mentioned earlier, Ayer manages to create a candy coated sense of macabre that tries to define the movie and give it a style, but that tone simply isn't as consistent. Suicide Squad jumps between dark, morbidly funny and action oriented with all the grace of a Michael Bay film. There has been much talk about studio interference and the editing being taken away from Ayer, but I don't pretend to know what really happened there; I wasn't in the editing suite. That said, it does feel like there are two movies at battle. There is a very dark story unfolding, but forcing in funny scenes or out of place quips keeps sabotaging it. This isn't to say the jokes aren't funny, but I can't help but feel the movie needs to pick a tone. One minute we're getting a very dark origin for Enchantress and a tragic one for Deadshot, the next minute we're getting character introductions with upbeat music and cartoon emojis. It's been confirmed that Zack Snyder directed a scene in this movie, but it almost feels like another three or four other directors were involved.

The visual style also feels muddled as a result of the film's inconsistent tone. The first half is stylized and cool, feeling like a comic book come to life in a way few other Marvel or DC movies feel. I could have done without the cartoon emojis appearing onscreen, but I give Ayer points for creativity. There's a very nice montage that takes advantage of this, it's the one that introduces Harley and how she and the Joker came to be partners. It's ripped right out the comics and Batman: The Animated Series, and even shows Harley in her court jester costume. The cinematography in some of these early scenes is brilliant and inventive. And then, like everything else in this movie, the second half just falls flat. The visual style eventually devolves into a bland 'action movie' design, offering up flash but nothing unique. I don't know if Oscar buzz for Best Cinematography would have been out of the question if the movie could maintain that look throughout, the early stuff is that good. It's another missed opportunity.

In terms of the cast itself, Margot Robbie and Will Smith are the standouts here, whereas the rest fall flat. Robbie nails the role of Harley Quinn, and Ayer is sure to give plenty of nods to her past. Any fan of Batman: The Animated Series is sure to love that car chase, and the Alex Ross homage is brilliant. Smith is one of the most charismatic actors in Hollywood, and you can tell he was really invested in his character and the movie. He's fantastic as Deadshot. Viola Davis is also very good as the ice cold Amanda Waller, doing far better than Angela Bassett's attempt in Green Lantern.

Unfortunately, the rest of the cast is forgettable. Jai Courtney is a charisma vacuum, Cara Delevingne is bland and Joel Kinnaman is just there. Slipknot and Katana are played by ... wait; they're in this movie? I just finished watching it for the second time and I already forgot they were there. Huh. Killer Croc is a total loss in this movie. I've always liked the character, but he may as well not even be here. His look isn't bad, but he's way too small. His personality is entirely absent, and I have no clue why he's in this movie. I actually forgot to even mention him when I first wrote this review, he's just that painfully forgettable. Ayer would do well to watch Marvel's The Avengers to understand how to properly assemble and utilize a superhero team.

Anyone expecting Batman to play a large role will be disappointed, he has maybe two minutes of screen time. You know, they had an opportunity to do something really unique and cool with him. Why not make Batman the "villain?" Let us get to know Task Force X enough so that we care about them, then have Batman showing up at some point to stop them. The audience will be conflicted: do we cheer for Batman or not? We wouldn't want him to stop the squad, so we may end up cheering against him. Or how interesting would it have been for one of the heroes to interfere with their mission? It's one of the advantages of telling a story from the point of view of the villains, and it's another missed opportunity to turn the comic book movie genre on its head.

Now we get to the Joker. Following up on Heath Ledger's legendary performance as The Joker in The Dark Knight is a tall order, and one that Jared Leto sadly can't pull off. I didn't like his laugh, I didn't like his voice, I didn't like persona, and I honestly don't get why he was even in the movie. It would have been better to leave him out and let Harley talk about "Mr. J" every once in a while. Why not build him up a bit for another film? You could have cut him out of Suicide Squad completely and still have the plot work. There was also no consistency in his look. Sometimes he's clown white (noticeably in his last scene), but he sometimes seems to have Leto's skin tone. Does he paint his face like Ledger's Joker? Does his skin get dyed later? And if he does paint himself, why are his tattoos still perfectly visible? The movie doesn't explain and the inconsistencies are very apparent.

Suicide Squad is the definition of a mixed bag, and that's my biggest problem with it. The good parts of it are genre bending and imaginative, but the rest is forgettable. This doesn't hurt the DC Extended Universe, but I don't think it'll change the minds of people who didn't care for Man of Steel or Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. I give it a small recommendation, perhaps just Rent It, but don't expect miracles. I would say watch the movie and turn it off an hour in. Unfortunately, you're not missing much.

Jon Falcone posts as 'Spideyzilla' on the Toonzone Forums and is a contributor to the site.

[Note: The Blu-ray release adds an additional 13 minutes of footage back into the movie, including additional moments between The Joker and Harley and some character beats for the Suicide Squad crew. However, the story remains untouched. While the additional scenes do flush out the characters a little more, the overall impact in minimal. If you want more Joker and Harley moments, then these scenes do deliver, though any issues with the film's story, character development, presentation and visual style remain. -- James Harvey]




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