Suicide Squad

(M) Joel Kinnaman, Will Smith, Margot Robbie, Jai Courtney, Jay Hernandez, Cara Delevingne

Suicide Squad is one of the most anticipated films of the year. Can the DC Universe finally get this right? The trailers give a glimmer of hope, but the jury is out on if they can deliver.

Continuing on from the Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice narrative, the world is reeling from the death of Superman. Without the Man of Steel, the world leaders are concerned that the meta-human threat puts the human race at risk. The answer to this problem comes from US agent and meta-human expert Amanda Waller (Viola Davis) who puts forward her Suicide Squad project.

The concept is bringing together some of the world’s worst villains, manipulating them to go against their own personal interests and using them to keep the rest of the meta-humans in check. With the assistance of super soldier Rick Flag (Joel Kinnaman), they work to motivate Deadshot (Will Smith), Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie), Boomerang (Jai Courtney), Diablo (Jay Hernandez) and Killer Croc (Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje) to do these high-risk missions for the sake of the greater good. Once the brutish bunch is reluctantly recruited, they are sent on their inaugural mission. It does not take too long for the team to realise that this battle is not what they were expecting. This mission eventually contains personal aspects that will affect all of them. This Suicide Squad must determine what their true motivations are to serve and if it is all worth the risk.

With all of the hype around this new venture into the DC Universe, to say that expectations are high for the Suicide Squad would be an understatement. The star power, the enthusiasm for the trailers and the potential for a ‘new look’ Joker has kept the new and seasoned fans buzzing with anticipation. Can this rag tag bunch of villains deliver the needed jolt for DC to rival their Marvel alter egos? The phrase that comes to mind, almost, but not quite there … yet.

Suicide Squad does what Batman v Superman failed to do. It takes an exceptionally complex idea and makes it accessible and entertaining. Director David Ayer (Fury) does a monstrous effort to bring together a bunch of relatively unknown characters, introduce them to audiences and weaves in a fascinating tale of redemption that lifts this fantastical adventure above many of the other films within this genre. He manages to bring together a strong cast of actors who rise to the challenge of introducing the world to the dark side of DC. Will Smith, Margot Robbie and Jai Courtney lead the rampage of the disturbed heroes and take advantage of every line they are given while Jay Hernandez’s Diablo character is given the ‘diamond in the rough’ award with his brooding portrayal of the gangbanger who seeks redemption for his horrific crimes.

The rest of the characters become bit players in this super-hero (Or is it super-villain; it is a bit confusing) drama including The Joker. Jared Leto’s performance has been one of the most anticipated aspects of this potential franchise, but he is relegated to being a love sick boyfriend who is under-utilised and Ayer is never allowed to develop his character.

With this vast troupe of the Suicide Squad, Ayer has the opportunity to cultivate the growth of a fresh new franchise. The challenge is finding a adversary that is worthy of their attention. This has been one of the biggest difficulties for an issue that this genre throughout 2016. The answer seems to present itself in Viola Davis’ portrayal of Amanda Waller. She contains many of the needed elements for this role, but they fail to capitalise on this tantalising direction. Instead the choice is The Enchantress (Cara Delevingne), who can be labelled as creepy, but fails to convey the needed evil to warrant the attention of the Squad. Delevingne’s comical attempt at malevolent dancing and the development of her faceless minions do not provide the needed terror or adversarial role to make it a convincing ordeal. This inclusion in the storyline is reminiscent of the recent X-Men: Apocalypse that proved that the world domination concept is overdone.

Even with some of the obvious weaknesses, there is hope for this as a potential franchise. The filmmakers have only begun to plumb the depths of this rich vein of unique players. Suicide Squad could be labelled an origin story and needs to be revisited. Hopefully, they can do more to enhance the humorous components for the next outing.  This script provided some funny throw away lines that lifted the story out of the dark world where it resides. With this talent pool, there is a multitude of opportunity for more comedy to add to the violent nature of this genre. If the acting talent can be convinced to come back for another chapter, this initial outing merely became a set up for an exciting future. It will be worth going to see this outing for the sake of understanding the future of the this new charter of the superhero realm.

REEL DIALOGUE: What are some of the bigger questions to consider from this film?

Redemption was at the heart of Suicide Squad. The key motivation for the majority of these villainous elements is seek out redemption for their lives. Some seek pardons for their past sins, others want to reconnect with family and friends and some even want to have a normal life.

These are some of life’s basic needs. Acceptance, forgiveness and redemption. Travelling through life, most of us come to a point of seeking redemption for various things that we have done. Trying to find a means of rectifying the wrongs we have done to people, society or God. This is a concept that can be found at the heart of the Bible’s message. Jesus life and death provides a special type of redemption that is readily available to anyone who is willing to accept it.

This brings about two questions: Are you seeking redemption in your life and have you considered Jesus as the answer?

Verses on the topic of redemption: Psalm 111:9, John 3:16, Romans 3:24-26, Ephesians 1:7

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Russell Matthews

Russell loves film and enjoys engaging in discussions about the latest cinema offerings and then connecting this with the Gospel. He has worked for City Bible Forum for over 10 years, is a reviewer for Insights Magazine and Entertainment Fuse and has a blog called Russelling Reviews. He moderates events for Reel Dialogue which connect the film industry with the general public.