‘Suicide Squad’ Squanders Opportunity to Capitalize on the Rise of the Anti-Hero

In the superhero movies of the ’80s and’ 90s, a clear boundary separates right and wrong. The superheroes are good; the villains are bad. Somewhere along the line, that boundary became blurred. Now, Batman and Superman battle one another. Deadpool relentlessly wreaks havoc. The Avengers have splintered.

Enter Suicide Squad. Based on a D.C. comic book, the movie, which opens today at area theaters, could have capitalized on this trend. Instead, it offers some half-baked storyline (a witch and her brother try to kill off the human race) and one-dimensional characters. Consider it a lost opportunity.

Written and directed by David Ayer, the film starts by telling the backstory of two key characters, Floyd Lawton/Deadshot (Will Smith) and Dr. Harleen Quinzel / Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie). A hitman with a heart, Floyd/Deadshoot cares deeply about his daughter, but he’s a mercenary man who shoots to kill. And Joker (Jared Leto) turned Dr. Harleen Quinzel/Harley Quinn into a villain by torturing her, both physically and mentally, and then somehow falls in love with her.

As for the rest of the Suicide Squad, either their backstories weren’t interesting enough or they simply ended up on the cutting room floor. We don’t learn as much about them in the movie’s opening scenes.

Even though each member of the Suicide Squad possesses a fatal flaw of some sort, Amanda Waller (Viola Davis), a ruthless government official determined to fight terror at whatever the cost, assembles the cast to fight off the really bad guys (metahumans and the like) that the military can’t handle. She and the thuggish Col. Rick Flag (Joel Kinnaman) keep members of the motley crew in line by promising them reduced jail time if they do as they're told.

Their first task involves defeating Enchantress (Cara Delevingne), an evil witch who's teamed up with her evil brother to build some kind of device that will take out the human race. They've taken over Midtown, and our antiheroes need to take them down. 

The men head off to take on Enchantress but get sidetracked as they have to rescue Amanda, who’s holed up in a bunker. At this point, the plot becomes a convoluted mess. Half the time, it's hard to say where Flag and Co. are or where they're going.

In perhaps the movie's best scene, the gang seems to bond while hanging out an abandoned bar. But the camaraderie needed to be established earlier to make the movie work.

The film isn’t without its merits. Smith’s deadpan delivery suits his character perfectly, and Robbie shows off her range as the alternately flippant and fierce Harley. Leto takes Joker completely over the top and turns his character into a demented psychopath straight out of a Mad Max movie. But the other actors don’t get equal screen time, leaving their characters underdeveloped.

And the second-rate special effects don’t help matters either.

But we do love a good anti-hero: Here's to hoping the already-in-the-works sequel fares better.

About The Author

Jeff Niesel

Jeff has been covering the Cleveland music scene for more than 20 years now. And on a regular basis, he tries to talk to whatever big acts are coming through town, too. If you're in a band that he needs to hear, email him at [email protected]
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