Movie review of “Suicide Squad”: In a year overloaded with comic-book movies, this one just seems like more of the same, but Margot Robbie and Will Smith stand out as super villains. Rating: 2.5 stars out of 4.
It’s Harley Quinn’s movie and everybody else in “Suicide Squad” is just a supporting character.
No surprise there. That’s the way it is in the comic books, too.
It’s all about personality, and Harley has that by the freight carload. Coy, comical and completely crazed, she outshines everyone in the DC universe, and Margot Robbie, who plays her in “Squad,” expertly occupies every naughty niche in her convoluted psyche.
Movie Review ★★½
‘Suicide Squad,’ with Margot Robbie, Will Smith, Viola Davis, Jared Leto, Joel Kinnaman. Written and directed by David Ayer. 123 minutes. Rated PG-13 for sequences of violence and action throughout, disturbing behavior, suggestive content and language. Several theaters.
This is a strong, sexy woman who struts and preens in tattered fishnets, spiky stilettos, a spangly blue-and-red bikini bottom and tight T-shirt inscribed with “Daddy’s Lil Monster.” She’s a person with no shame and no limits to her zany evilness. Yet in the presence of her “Puddin” — her pet name for the Joker — she turns into a puddle of mush. She’s the abused and battered victim of love in that toxic twosome, mad for the boy who is just plain mad. But not very interestingly so.
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Heath Ledger remains the gold standard of movie Jokers with his portrayal of a fiend whose shiver-inducing twistedness ran soul deep. Jared Leto’s Joker in “Suicide Squad” is all on the surface: green hair and a mouthful of steely teeth. He’s a gargoyle, almost ornamental, popping in and out of the story from time to time, contributing little more than maniacal laughter and a demented smile. In a movie full of villainous characters, he does not stand out.
That’s part of “Squad’s” problem: It’s overfull of meanies. The squad is a collection of the “the worst of the worst” of DC’s rogues gallery of miscreants assembled by a merciless bureaucrat named Amanda Waller (Viola Davis) to take on even worse villains.
The overabundance of baddies obliges writer-director David Ayer (“Fury”) to spend an inordinate amount of time introducing everybody and sketching their back stories. So the movie is slow to achieve liftoff. And other than Harley, and Deadshot, the sharpshooting assassin played by Will Smith, there’s not much to most of these characters.
Smith’s handling of Deadshot, full of quips and humanized by tender feelings for his young daughter, likely signals the resurrection of his lately stalled career. In the unaccustomed position as a member of an ensemble, he reclaims the engaging mojo that made him a superstar.
When Ayer finally helicopters the squad into battle, the picture’s other big flaw becomes apparent. The supposed super villains they fight (there are two) are rather less than super. One is an armored giant who extrudes deadly tentacles while the other is a woman with glowing eyes whose main superpower seems to be dispensing CG lightning zaps while doing a mean shimmy in a black bikini.
In a year overloaded with comic-book movies, “Suicide Squad” just seems like more of the same. Fans hoping for a picture that breaks the mold in the manner of “Guardians of the Galaxy” or “Deadpool” are likely to be disappointed.