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Movie Night – ‘Suicide Squad’ is darker side to superhero genre

By Bradley Griffith

By this point in the year you’re probably tired of superhero movies. And, honestly, I couldn’t blame you if you were.  The spring and summer movie season has been inundated with superheroes of all shapes and sizes.  Luckily, “Suicide Squad” is not your typical superhero movie.

In the aftermath of the death of Superman, the government begins to fear the rise of what they call meta-humans, people with extraordinary abilities. Now that Superman is no longer around to protect the planet, what will happen if meta-humans begin to flex their considerable powers?  What if the next Superman wants to destroy the Earth rather than save it?

Intelligence agent Amanda Waller (Viola Davis) believes that she has the answer. She wants to build a team, a squad of bad guys to protect the country.  We’re not talking about your average, run-of-the-mill bad guys, but the worst of the worst. The worst criminals, Waller surmises, are the most powerful and most likely to win a battle against a meta-human.  Waller combs the nation’s prisons to build her team.

Waller selects Harley Quinn (Margo Robbie), a deranged former psychiatrist, Deadshot (Will Smith), an assassin who has never missed a single shot, Diablo (Jay Hernandez), a fire-wielding former gang member, Killer Croc (Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje), a monstrous-looking cannibal, Boomerang (Jai Courtney), a deadly Aussie, and Slipknot (Adam Beach), a gifted athlete, acrobat, and fighter.   Special Forces Colonel Rick Flag (Joel Kinnaman) is their leader and commanding officer.  If any of the villains disobey him, they will be terminated immediately.

There are a few wrinkles in Waller’s plan.  The first is that one of Waller’s meta-humans, Enchantress (Cara Delevingne), escaped containment and begins laying waste to Midway City.  The second wrinkle is that the Joker (Jared Leto) and Harley Quinn are in love and the Joker will do anything to get her back.

When describing “Suicide Squad” the phrase deliciously evil comes to mind.  They aren’t fighting for Waller because they want to or because it’s the right thing to do.  They are doing it because Waller gave them no choice.  Waller chose them because she knew they think different than good guys, they know how to stop bad guys because that’s what they are.  It makes for an interesting story.

All of the actors perform their parts well.  Margot Robbie’s Harley Quinn is completely certifiable.  You never know what she is going to do or say, and that’s what makes her such a great character and the focus of much of the movie.  Deadshot is Will Smith’s best character in years and Jay Hernandez plays the tortured pyromaniac on steroids perfectly.

Jared Leto plays the Joker different than you have ever seen the character.  This is not surprising given the fact that Heath Ledger’s performance of the Joker in “The Dark Knight” was the stuff of legend and was absolutely flawless.  The Joker can’t be played any better than Ledger’s portrayal.  Leto does the only thing he can, he changes the character slightly.  He makes the Joker even crazier, more psychotic.  The Joker is insane in the extreme, cackling at nearly everything.

Like most of the DC Comics movies, “Suicide Squad” is darker and heavier than its Marvel Studio’s rivals.  “Suicide Squad” takes the darkness a little farther than any of the previous movies.  By the end of the movie it’s difficult to tell exactly who are the villains.

A few minor tweaks would have elevated the movie to a different level.  A better villain with less supernatural aspects or more screen time for the Joker would have made the movie and absolute must see.  As it stands “Suicide Squad” is a different take on the superhero genre, and for that reason alone it’s worth seeing in theaters.

Grade: A-

Rated PG-13 for sequences of violence and action throughout, disturbing behavior, suggestive content, and language.