The short answer: absolutely not.
A bit longer answer: Clearly, someone is showing favoritism to ‘All Things Marvel’ by continuing this campaign to trash the greater DC Universe of films. While healthy competition is always good for the marketplace, it’s very clear that someone somewhere somehow is trying to orchestrate the failure of Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, The Flash, Aquaman, and more. While the (ahem) Self-Important Online Intelligentsia Community would have you believe that they’re only doing what’s best in seeing these movies so that you don’t have to, it’s hogwash. Go see Suicide Squad and make up your mind for yourself as that’s exactly what they don’t want you to do.
Full disclosure: I’ve always been more of a DC guy than a Marvel guy. I read my first comic books in 1970 (I kid you not), and – while I can admit that I thought Spider-man and the Fantastic Four were pretty cook – the Marvel stable of characters just didn’t interest me as much as did DC’s. I guess my young mind saw that Batman had a mission – a life’s pursuit – and Superman stood for something. This isn’t to say that Marvel’s heroes lacked any substance; rather, they seemed more interested in what I’d say are personal interests than they were professional ones.
After all, “saving the day” isn’t only about “saving the day.” How one does it, why one does it, and what it means beyond an act of heroism helps define not only the man or woman completing that awesome feat but the greater world OUT THERE. Batman willfully and deliberately surrounds himself with a veritable asylum full of psychopaths, and – like it or not – that tells me more about the world he’s only one part of than it does about him. Sure, these are narrative tricks … but they still count for something.
Government strategist Amanda Waller (played by Viola Davis) has a grand vision: she sees a day when the world’s superheroes might turn on mankind, leaving the United States completely unprepared to defend itself and the American public from the likes of Superman or any other meta-human. So to prepare for that eventuality, she devises Task Force X – a roster of villains she believes can be co-opted to fight for the side of good in exchange for ‘time off’ their sentences. When an all-new menace rears its ugly head, her first bench of anti-heroes including Deadshot (Smith), Harley Quinn (Robbie), and leader Rick Flag (Joel Kinnaman) are sent in to do what no one else can: stop the Enchantress (Cara Delevingne) from destroying the planet.
The good, the bad, and the ugly regarding Suicide Squad is that it covers an awful lot of miles before the big finish.
Written and directed by David Ayer, Squad has a veritable slew of characters it has to introduce – several of which including truncated ‘origins’ – as well as laying out a story about how it all came together. And with so many newcomers to the greater DC Cinema Universe clearly not everyone gets the kind of coverage perhaps deserved or maybe even warranted in a tent-pole release of this sort: an attempt of lesser ambitions probably would’ve cut the Squad in half and given each baddie a bit more to do, but Ayer keeps his foot on the accelerator at all times, even at the expense of some probable smaller moments that may’ve contributed greatly to Waller’s arc. The Joker (Jared Leto) makes several small(ish) appearances, and the only one really of substance so far as this viewer was concerned was during Harley’s origin sequence; otherwise, he’s only a guy trying to get his gal back – a nice touch but somewhat inconsequential when compared against the stakes for the planet.
Still, what Ayer does well here works to great cinematic effect. Flag and Deadshot spend a chunk of the film at odds, and Smith and the always reliable Kinnaman were perfectly cast as enemies willing to ‘play nice’ with one another when circumstances demand. Robbie plays a pitch perfect Quinn, and the camaraderie between her and her various teammates has a welcome comic book flourish. Action sequences have a solid workmanship approach with Ayer (thankfully) backing up the camera (unlike other directors do these days) to show the range of combat, giving viewers a greater sense of what’s happening without sacrificing the pace of the action. Clearly, there’s a sense of greatness here, and while it may not all come together seamlessly I’d argue that it’s entertaining enough to carry the start of a new franchise if not launch several of these Spandex-clad folks into their own series of films.
Over the weekend, much ado has been made online about how Warner Bros. ‘tinkered’ with the release: I’ve come to understand that the theatrical cut released to the masses is not the same one which apparently tested through the roof with audiences. While many of the professional entertainment writers have used this to justify that the studio just didn’t know what they were doing with the property, I’m left to wonder, “Why in the name of Grodd would you do that?” That’s like hiring Michael Jordan and asking him to let somebody else shoot the ball, isn’t it? If you had something that was aces, then it defies logic to not give the people want they want. I can’t help but ponder whether or not my few gripes are better handled in this alternate cut … and maybe that version will see life again when Squad inevitably hits video, and I can do some comparison.
In the meantime, I’m left with what I’ve seen.
As much as others have apparently hated it, I had fun with so very much of Squad. I’ll give you that a few scenes may not have had as much impact as perhaps Ayer or Warner Bros. intended, and I’ll even give you that certain lesser elements of the plot could’ve used a bit more exploration; but this film is far from the failure it’s been painted to be. It’s lean and efficient. It boasts some big performances, especially a ‘Hail Mary’ one from Smith, who I but thought his time in the spotlight was fading. Squad offers up a solid beginning – a first step into a world where anti-heroes might just be the best mankind has to save us from ourselves.