This Super Villain comic book movie, made up mostly of second-tier bad guys from the DC Universe, is a mess. Between the patchwork story, tonal schizophrenia, and dark demonic activity, there’s little here that could be considered entertaining. 2 out of 5
Fearing that a future “metahuman” like Superman could choose to use his or her powers for evil instead of good, government agent Amanda Waller (Viola Davis) – who organizes clandestine operations – proposes to assemble and lead a team of Super Villains to fight these formidable enemies. Currently in maximum-security custody, they are: master-marksman Deadshot (Will Smith), crazy-and-lethal Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie), fire-blasting Diablo (Jay Hernandez), weapon-wielding Boomerang (Jai Courtney), along with a few others. For good measure, The Joker (Jared Leto) is up to his own hijinks on the side, primarily related to helping his girlfriend Harley Quinn break free. The main threat to emerge, however, is a demonic entity named Enchantress (Cara Delevingne). She, along with her equally evil brother Incubus (Alain Chanoine), look to rise up from their dormant captivity and overtake the world.
Not much, outside of four performances that make this oppressive dirge somewhat bearable. Will Smith’s Deadshot, Jay Hernandez’s Diablo, Viola Davis’s Waller, and Joel Kinnaman’s Rick Flag (the army soldier that Waller tasks to lead the Suicide Squad) are the only well-written characters, with actual backstories and emotional layers. These four actors bring a conviction to their roles as well, while the other characters are less grounded and more simplistic. Humor and jokes occasionally land, too, particularly Smith who brings a fun swagger.
The two big draws – The Joker and Harley Quinn – are laughable in the wrong ways, overblown caricatures that quickly become grating. Harley’s psycho-sexpot act is obnoxious, and the Joker’s amped-up insanity is all style and no depth (lacking the ominous, formidable layers that Jack Nicholson and Heath Ledger each brought to their unique iconic turns). Leto and Robbie’s performances are downright embarrassing. The script is a disaster, too, a concept in search of a plot. Even when the villain is finally established, the narrative meanders along, particularly in the film’s second-act shoot-em-up centerpiece which is a monotony of violence. The evil Enchantress turns humans into grotesque zombie-like faceless creatures as the Suicide Squad battles an endless horde of them in the heart of a major city. It plays out like a “Rated M for Mature” video game, with as much gory decapitations, dismemberments, and impalements of non-human entities that a PG-13 film will allow. The level of sensuality (from the scantily-clad Harley to various acts of sensual engagement between characters) is yet another mature element that parents won’t want to expose their kids to.
Christian Worldview Elements / Spiritual Themes
For parents, families, and many Christians, the demonic activity will be the most problematic element of all. The main villain is a demonic sorceress, who emerges from captivity by means of demonic possession through an innocent woman. The Enchantress has an evil demon brother, too, aptly named Incubus. Together, they create a very dark and spiritually oppressive atmosphere (that’s also visually cheesy at times), and the Suicide Squad “heroes” don’t offer enough of a spiritual or idealistic good to balance out that darkness.
CAUTIONS (may contain spoilers)
- MPAA Rating: PG-13 for sequences of violence and action throughout, disturbing behavior, suggestive content and language
- Language/Profanity: The S-word is used regularly throughout the film. The A-word is used a few times, the B-word once, and two instances of taking the Lord’s name in vain. There are also a couple uses of the P-word slang used to insult someone as weak and scared. A few instances of sexual slang verbiage as well.
- Sexuality/Nudity: The Harley Quinn character is entirely built upon her overt sexuality. She’s scantily clad throughout and constantly acts like a flirtatious vixen. There are some scenes of sensuality that depict stripper-pole style dancing involving multiple (clothed) women. Some scenes of kissing and sexually-charged chemistry between Harley Quinn and Joker. Various characters talk about how sexy Harley Quinn is. The villain, Enchantress, is also intended to exude a dark sexuality.
- Violence/Frightening/Intense: Heavy graphic genre violence throughout. Most of it involves the maiming, decapitation, dismembering and killing of dark, deformed, faceless creatures. Like an intensely violent video game but more realistic. There are some impalements of innocent bystanders Incubus, one of the evil villain forces. A lot of gunplay and gun violence throughout, though only graphic with the non-human creatures. Also sword violence, again primarily graphic with the non-human creatures. A number of fighting scenes. There is a couple of scenes of intense torture applied to the Suicide Squad members while they’re in prison, by the guards. The dark spirituality of the villains is consistently disturbing, involving possession, violence against others, and general wickedness.
Drugs/Alcohol: A couple of scenes involving alcohol, whiskey, liquor, shots, all consumed by the “heroes” of the Suicide Squad. No drunkenness.
The Bottom Line
RECOMMENDED FOR: Comic book movie fans that are curious, and those who want to take part in the ongoing DC/Marvel conversation surrounding our culture’s biggest movie genre.
NOT RECOMMENDED FOR: Kids. Families. Anyone who is sensitive to depictions of dark spirituality and demonic possession. If you’re just looking for a good, light, or fun time at the movies, please look elsewhere.
Suicide Squad, directed by David Ayer, opened in theaters August 5, 2016; available for home viewing December 13, 2016. It runs 123 minutes, and stars Will Smith, Jared Leto, Margot Robbie, Viola Davis, Jay Hernandez, Joel Kinnaman, Jai Courtney, Cara Delevingne. Watch the trailer for Suicide Squad here.
Jeff Huston is a writer/director/editor for Steelehouse Productions, a film & video production company in Tulsa, Oklahoma. He also publishes a movie blog that can be found at hustonmovieblog.com, and is a member of the Oklahoma Film Critics Circle. In 2015, his short film Pink Shorts was a finalist in HBO's Project Greenlight competition, and was one of six winners in that show's online "Greenie Awards."
Publication date: 8/4/2016