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In what is becoming a trend for DC movies, Suicide Squad is polarizing critics everywhere. Following the trend set by Man of Steel and most recently Batman v Superman, Suicide Squad currently, as of this writing, sits at 27% on Rotten Tomatoes and a 41 on MetaCritic. So, relatively about the same as where Batman v Superman rests, Suicide Squad will undoubtedly come down to fan reaction and how much money it makes.

So, knowing this full well, and even having initial fears about the movie to begin with, it’s safe to say that Suicide Squad does not warrant the negative reception that it is receiving. Not a movie without its problems, Suicide Squad contains its share of pros and cons, but not in the aggravating way that I was faced with earlier this year with Batman v Superman. Suicide Squad wants to be the darker version of Guardians of the Galaxy, that much is apparent by a single viewing, but it never reaches those heights, yet it’s a property that shows the potential to improve and evolve over time.

Suicide Squad 1Foregoing spoilers, Suicide Squad takes place after the events of Batman v Superman, in which Amanda Waller (Viola Davis) singles out convicts in Belle Reve prison for Task Force X. The team, consisting of  Deadshot, Harley Quinn, Killer Croc, Rick Flag, El Diablo, Captain Boomerang, Katana, and Slipknot, are sent into Midway City to deal with their assigned mission, which (As things normally do) doesn’t go according to plan, and we have our movie.

First and foremost, the casting for this film is incredibly spot on for the most part. Will Smith’s Deadshot is likable, bringing the charm that is expected with his casting, but the humanity from the source material, as well, being entirely intact. Margot Robbie’s Harley Quinn is just as enjoyable as we imagined, as she embodies a unique take on the character while remaining true to the character’s darker side as opposed to the slapstick one seen most recently. While not as ignorant and ditzy as some depictions may have her, Harley definitely stands her ground and isn’t weighed down by any cartoon-like mannerisms. While her writing, in particular with Deadshot and The Joker, is often on point, at times she is victim to forced lines that seem to be bait for trailers (“We’re bad guys! It’s what we do!”) to possible merchandise at Hot Topic material . (“Normal is a setting on a washing machine!”)

Suicide Squad 2Both Viola Davis and Joel Kinnaman bring a very expected but fulfilling nature to Amanda Waller and squad-leader Rick Flag. Kinnaman, in particular, has more development than initially expected, which is a nice touch for the plot at hand, but it’s Viola Davis who delivers as expected as she executes Waller’s mannerisms effortlessly. Fans (Myself included) were quick to say she would own the role, and she without a doubt does. Perhaps her depiction is the most comic-accurate in the film both physically and emotionally. (Or the lack thereof for the latter)

This characterisation is where the film starts to run into problems, though, as the film becomes apparently overstuffed quickly into the mission. Once the movie starts going and characters are being rattled off and explained, it becomes obvious there might be too many characters. It’s not until the Squad finally tries leaving for the mission that, surprise, they forgot someone: Katana. It was bad enough that Slipknot was tacked on with no backstory and no development whatsoever, but Katana is so forced into this film that it becomes questionable as to why she’s even a member of the cast to begin with, seeing as she adds nothing to the team through the plot, save for one or two aspects during the film’s climax.

Suicide Squad 4This over-stuffed nature also causes problems for characters who are given any kind of development. Early in the film, as Waller explains to certains people who the members of Task Force X are, she gives an uneven amount between the main-players in the film (Deadshot, Harley) all the while leaving Boomerang, El Diablo, and Killer Croc in the dust. El Diablo (Jay Hernandez) is given development later in the film as we learn more about him, but it’s done so late that it becomes difficult to feel anything for him in the last twenty minutes. Killer Croc (Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje) is given some humorous, chuckle-worthy lines here and there, but ultimately he is given no depth other than being “the crocodile-guy who eats people.”

Most criminally overlooked is Boomerang, (Jai Courtney) who is reduced to comic relief for the group. There are instances where he is shown to be self-centered and scheming, but he never amounts to what he is on the pages of the comics, let alone as fearsome as he was as he appeared on Arrow in season three. Perhaps in the scenes cut out (We know they’re there, you can tell there are chunks missing from this movie) he is fleshed out more, but until an extended cut is announced it shall remain to be seen.

Alongside this characterisation issue is another outstanding problem early on into the film. As displayed in the early 2000’s for superhero movies, it has generally been frowned upon to feature music that’s outside of the original soundtrack. Suicide Squad ignores the mistakes made in the past and heavily features multiple songs throughout. While this can be done tastefully, (I hate to draw the comparison, but Guardians of the Galaxy is an example) song usage in Suicide Squad is done in a way that distracts and takes you out of the movie instead of adds to it.

Suicide Squad 5Thankfully, to compensate these problems,  Suicide Squad has some tricks up its sleeve. One such of these is The Joker and how the film handles him. While some reviews may criticize that he is in the film too little, I found his inclusion and appearances to be done in good taste. Joker is best described as a third-party in this film who has a simple goal, and ultimately weaves into setting up his and Harley’s place in the DCEU as of now. While Jared Leto will undoubtedly be held to the standard of his predecessors, his Joker is a unique and raw take on the character not seen before. While we haven’t seen a Joker that is as street-level as this one, it remains to be seen to how he will hold while on screen with Ben Affleck in a future film.

Suicide Squad also has the pleasure of having solid action throughout. While, at times, there may be moments where there is too much going on screen, the film does manage to entertain without having Kryptonians flying through buildings or sending brainless goons through walls. Most of the action is more violent than one might find in a Marvel movie, but never disturbing or off-putting to the point where it’s unwatchable. The only time the fighting in the film became problematic was in the climax, certain characters become silhouettes and it became impossible to tell them from one another.

Suicide Squad 3Visually the film is more colorful than past DC film efforts without going overboard. While the excessive color may be too much at first, eventually the film levels out and finds its balance in its palette. The climax, even with the problem mentioned prior, is visually enthralling. Even more so, the use of practical effects when necessary is a nice touch, as Killer Croc becomes the prime example of this done right. While it was initially off putting for him to be human sized and not the version we are familiar with from the most-recent Arkham game series, he is instantly more believable than if he were CGI.

What works in the film’s favor most of all, however, is how self-contained it is. Yes, there is a Batman cameo in the film, but in no way does it distract from the fact that this film is about Task Force X, not the greater DC Universe at large, nor is it about building towards any Justice League or major event. Had Batman v Superman gone about the story in this way instead of trying to force Wonder Woman and the other Justice League members into the story somehow, (As well as numerous other different plot set-ups) the film would have fared better. Suicide Squad knows this, and has a clear beginning, middle, and end to it. Even with the problems at hand, knowing the film is more self contained makes it as accessible as possible to sit down and watch. Granted, there are references early on to the events of Batman v Superman, but the rest of the film does not rely on the past events beyond the first two minutes.

In a year where DC is trying to find their footing in the cinematic universe, Suicide Squad does an alright job of getting the job done. Standing alone and making things work in its favor, the movie is not without its problems, but never succumbs to them like the press would have you believe. Certainly not perfect, (But enjoyable, to say the least) for a bunch of bad guys, the Squad can give you a good time. It may not be the best thing to happen to the superhero genre, let alone this summer, but there’s been so much worse in both that it’s hard to not forgive this film for its shortcomings.

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