By James Weaver
Having gotten their Spandex-covered behinds paddled in competition with rival Marvel, the folks at DC are taking a new tack in the battle for comic book movie dominance. With “Suicide Squad,” they have finally gotten a bit ahead of the curve.
The last several movies based on characters in the DC Comic universe have been middling efforts, including the much-hyped “Batman vs. Superman.” Always a step behind the competition, the second place team sought to emphasize grit and violence just as a touch of humor became the best currency in the genre.
“Suicide Squad” is a kind of “Dirty Dozen” in primary colors. A bunch of imprisoned super-baddies are offered a deal: time off your sentences in exchange for fighting even badder opponents. The plot and the villain are both a bit vague; the real appeal here is in the characters.
As good as Will Smith is as hitman Deadshot, the standout star of “Suicide” is Margot Robbie as The Joker’s demented girlfriend, Harley Quinn. She’s a sexy little package of lethality and arch humor, and it’s not just her skimpy shorts that keep all eyes on her; she nails the amusing ambiguity of her role. Jared Leto as The Joker tries to channel Heath Ledger and gets halfway there. Viola Davis is serviceable as hard-bottom handler Amanda Waller, whose role suffers from a total lack of backstory.
Of course, there are lots of battles as the “Squad” battles a brother-and-sister team of other-dimensional villians, a situation complicated by the fact that sis is actually possessing the body of the true love of Col. Rick Flag (terrible clichéd name), a too-stiff military type with no visible sense of humor.
Of course, you know how it all turns out. Bad guys lose. Turf is fertilized for the next chapter and fanboys get the violence and tease they crave.
This is no philosophical battle between light and dark, or theological metaphor. Director and writer David Ayer has given us what comic books were originally intended for: some amusement, some thrills and something to look forward to.
“Suicide Squad” is rated PG-13 for action violence and some language.
Categories: Arts & Leisure