It’s been a while since Superman allegedly fought his last monster. He’s apparently dead now, buried under the wreckage of Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. But Amanda Waller figures it’s only a matter of time before another god-like superhuman decides to show up—and the next one might not be so nice. Best gather a group of bad-to-the-bone supervillains to use in case this hypothetical threat appears. Those baddies are just collecting dust in some old maximum security facility anyway. And if they get toasted by supervision or blown to smithereens by a sonic blast, who’s gonna care?
Seems dangerous, you say? Well, she has one of those villains in pocket already: The Enchantress. A witch-like being who, we’re told, is around 6,300 years old, she serves Waller only because the bureaucrat has a hold on her heart … literally. Amanda keeps it in a high-tech briefcase. As long as she has the witch’s dusty thumper, the Enchantress is just super-helpful—the Miss Congeniality of undead super villains.
All Amanda needs is a few more dangerous hombres and the world, she promises, will be nice and safe. “In a world of flying men and monsters, this is the only way to protect our country.”
When your movie’s protagonists are a bunch of hardened killers, positives can be difficult to come by. But that said, there’s some good to be found in many of these bad guys.
Deadshot is an assassin, but he’s also a dad—one who really loves his 11-year-old daughter. He’d do anything for her (except, apparently, give up his lethal profession), and when he considers joining the Squad, his first thoughts are of her. He’s also a reliable teammate, always willing to protect a fellow fighter—no matter how good or how bad they might be.
El Diablo is no less a killer, but he’s filled with regrets over his past misdeeds. In fact, when Amanda first drafts the guy, he refuses to light up, as it were, playing the pacifist in the Squad’s bloody dealings. And while Diablo changes his mind eventually, he’s still haunted by his dark history. He’s the most broken of the bunch, and he’s willing to sacrifice a great deal to rectify the tragic choices he’s made.
Many members of the Suicide Squad are portrayed as victims as much as they are villains. Yes, they’ve been pushed beyond the brink, but they can still feel love and loyalty. And they all do risk their lives to try and save the world.
June Moone is sleeping with the Squad’s military overseer, Rick Flag. We see the two kiss and lie in bed together (fully clothed). But when June transforms into the Enchantress, she likes to do her evil work in as little clothing as a PG-13 rating will allow. Everything strategic is covered, but we do see lots of skin. She sometimes kisses mortals, which turns them into monsters.
Harley also prefers a more stripped-down look. While her male compatriots prefer to do their fighting fully clothed (and sometimes vaguely armoured), she spends most of the movie in a super-tight shirt and short-shorts that expose a good bit of her derriere.
This being a superhero movie, it likely won’t surprise you that there’s a great deal of ongoing violence in play. Enchantress creates an army of strange, inhuman foot soldiers that mindlessly do her bidding, and members of the Squad shoot, slice, immolate and vaporize them with impunity. Some are sliced in two. Others have their heads chopped off at around ear level. And while these creatures don’t bleed when they die (they seem to be made of black, bubbly goo), we know that all these zombie-pawns were once human, which makes the movie’s body count disturbingly high.
In a movie full of bad guys, you have to root for somebody, right? And that’s what turns Suicide Squad into a frustrating exercise in relativism.
Had the movie known what it wanted to say—if there was some sort of point or purpose to this whole exercise—we could glean something of merit. But there is no real point or sense of cohesion here. The writing feels jumbled and confused: sometimes as if its writers were working in isolation from each other and then suddenly found themselves needing to patch the thing together on deadline. The movie itself is gratuitously sexual and jarringly profane. While it’s not quite as grim as Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, it’s even more problematic, and it’s certainly not the tonic that Warner Bros. hoped it would be to get its DC superhero franchise back on track.
Suicide Squad is a visual spectacle for spectacle’s sake. It doesn’t really know what it wants to say. It only wants to make a lot of noise and take in a lot of money—which makes it a lot like its characters.
By Focus on the Family Singapore. This review was adapted from Plugged In: the entertainment guide your family needs to make family appropriate decisions through movie reviews, book reviews, TV reviews, and more.