Review: "Suicide Squad" Finally Gets It Right, Rotten Tomatoes Does Not

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Photo from Warner Bros.

After the legendary bomb of Batman v. Superman, Suicide Squad didn’t need to be anything special; it just had to be decent. Suicide Squad is that and then some.

Batman v. Superman has been criticized for having a messy plot that makes absolute sense; a result of director Zack Snyder filming a movie that was far too long for general audiences and a spectacularly incompetent job in the cutting room. When initial reviews came out that Suicide Squad was the same way, my mind cringed. DC had duped us once with Man of Steel, it duped us twice with Batman v. Superman, if it duped us a third it duped us a third time with Suicide Squad, I was done.

Then I saw the movie, and it was fantastic. Margot Robbie works as Harley Quinn, Jared Leto does the job as The Joker, and all around the performances ranged from fine to terrific. Each character has their own individual beats, their own story arcs, and their own personalities, and they all mesh incredibly well together.

The story of Suicide Squad picks up where Batman v. Superman left off. Superman is still very, very dead, and the world needs a new set of protectors. U.S. intelligence officer Amanda Waller (Viola Davis) proposes that the government create a task force made up of incarcerated meta-humans (people with super powers) to defend the world against the next Superman, who might not “share our ideology.”

Seeing as every person in this task force is a convicted criminal, Waller and Captain Rick Flag (Joel Kinnaman), who directs the squad in the field, have clearance to kill any one of them if they try to escape, or show any signs of disobedience. As such, Flag and Waller’s leadership is brutal, almost without remorse. These villains are only called to action out of great need, and nobody wants to deal with them.

However, in the field, they do spectacularly well. Will Smith’s Deadshot becomes the unofficial team leader, Harley Quinn and Captain Boomerang (Jai Courtney) are the comic relief characters, Killer Croc (Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje) is their equivalent of The Hulk, and El Diablo (Jay Hernandez) is the voice of moral reason.

They all have their own drama, which makes them more human. Deadshot struggles with fatherhood, Quinn tries to understand her twisted love with Leto’s Joker, Diablo mourns the loss of his family, and Captain Flag is tortured by his love of Dr. June Moone, who has been possessed by the film’s antagonist, Enchantress.

And in true DC fashion, the “heroes” created the villain. It is implied that Waller’s attempts to control Enchantress put her over the edge, causing her to break free and go on a city-destroying rampage, except this time there’s no Superman to save anybody.

This serves as the call to action for the Suicide Squad; to clean up the mess its creator made.

For an ensemble movie, it is imperative that all the meshing elements work, that each character in the film feels needed and that the audience cares about them. Suicide Squad not only manages to establish each character properly, but no one character feels more important than the rest, save Deadshot, the leader, and Slipknot (David Beach), who is in the film for all of five minutes before getting killed off.

And there is payoff, and tragedy. Suicide Squad doesn’t just slap together all these comic book characters just for the spectacle, we watch the relationships of these characters grow. As these mismatched villains begin to like and appreciate one another, they begin to work more effectively as a team. Flag and Deadshot even develop a touching brotherhood.

But not everything was meant to be tied off in a bow, perfect. These characters were villains for a reason, and the film plays off of that. We learn that Suicide Suad’s members are not monsters, they are people who have let their flaws define them, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t capable of good. If anything, Suicide Squad is a redemption tale, and that is where most of the movie’s heart comes from. One of the film’s finest moments comes when Deadshot proclaims that he’s going to stop Enchantress so his daughter will know that her father is not a “piece of shit.”

I would advise viewers to ignore the Rotten Tomatoes score. This is a case of either these critics outright lying or being so out of touch that they can’t see the basic structures of setup and payoff as described by the language of cinema. At the time of writing this review, Suicide Squad stood at 27%, the exact same rating the site gave to Batman v. Superman.

This comparison is ludicrous. No reputable critic can honestly see these two films in the same light. The fact is one has a cohesive narrative and one does not.

Suicide Squad is not high art, but it is the best superhero movie DC has put out since The Dark Knight. B+

You seriously can't make this stuff up.
You seriously can't make this stuff up.
Photos from Rotten Tomatoes