Clay Enos / Warner Bros. Pictures
For all the lengths “Suicide Squad” goes to make itself appear edgy and different enough to stand out from the crowded superhero movie field, there’s a lot of imitation going on.
The riffing that the team members throw between each other has a distinctly “Deadpool” feel to it (while still in bounds of the PG-13 rating), and it’s hard to escape associations with “The Avengers” and “Guardians of the Galaxy” as the group of misfits and castoffs team up to do battle with a big baddie threatening humanity.
Only this time around, the team members are supposed supervillains instead of do-gooders, or at least that’s what their neon-laden character introductions would hope to have you believe. A quick roll-call of the few who actually matter: Will Smith plays Deadshot, an assassin with perfect aim; Margot Robbie is Harley Quinn, the Joker’s girlfriend and manic pixie dreampsychopath; and Jay Hernandez plays El Diablo, a former gangbanger who can conjure flames from thin air.
Sure, there are some other folks roped in as well and they all get a few chances show off their “metahuman” abilities and crack some wise — there is a bit of humor injected into things, a nice break after this spring’s ultra-glum “Batman vs. Superman” fiasco — but their character arcs mostly consist of not running away when the fighting starts.
Parsing out all the backstory the audience is loaded with in the first 15 minutes of the movie as these introductions are given would most likely eat up the entirety of this column space, so let’s move ahead a bit to the meat of the matter. The team members have government-implanted bombs in their necks if they don’t cooperate, and they have to go stop some world-ending force from vaporizing humanity.
After teeing up how badass all the characters are, the plot more or less falls away to let these sort-of personalities do their thing. With so many different characters to showcase and quips to field, director David Ayer pings around between backstory and present, resulting in a choppy, cut-up feel for most of the movie, favoring brief vignettes of attitude rather than an actual story. Lights flash and enemies are dispatched, but not a whole lot happens.
In one of the most annoyingly off-putting performances to hit the screen in a long while, a made-up Jared Leto shows up every so often as the Joker, DC comics staple and Harley Quinn’s other half. The two gush over each other in a romance ripped right from the edgiest of teenager Tumblr accounts. Harley gives off the impression that she’s an autonomous supervillain of her own accord early on, but that persona quickly dissolves when together with her “Puddin’.”
Dark greens and browns own the color palette most of the time, with the occasional flash of neon showing up to give the setting another cultivated twang of swagger in a murky world. For all its striving to stand out from the crowd, “Suicide Squad” is pretty standard and forgettable superhero fare. Expect to relive it in Halloween costumes for at least the next few years.
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