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“Fun and stylish – a comic book come to life” – that was how I described David Ayer’s SUICIDE SQUAD last night, a one-liner delivered moments after leaving the theater from a Thursday night showing, responding to comments from Facebook friends who noticed my check-in. Contrary to what you might’ve heard from the increasingly humorless legion of online critics this past week, SUICIDE SQUAD is far from the dismal “mess” that some have chosen to label it – an entertaining film that marks the cinematic debut of many new characters into the DC Extended Universe, and a perfect bridge between Zack Snyder’s recent BATMAN v SUPERMAN: DAWN OF JUSTICE and next year’s JUSTICE LEAGUE. Browsing my feeds on both Facebook and Twitter late last night, it appears I’m not alone in my thoughts. What we have here is another prime example of the growing audience vs. critic rift, and a reminder that film (as with any of the arts) is subjective – that you should never pass up the opportunity to experience something simply because of a bad review (yes, even if it comes from me), and that what’s “entertaining” will vary widely among viewers. My take is that SUICIDE SQUAD is a film that feels like a comic book, but in a different way than anything that either DC or MARVEL has put on the big screen in the past.

In many ways, the set-up an character introduction feels like that of a heist film – very OCEAN’S ELEVEN in its approach, and I love that. The graphic treatments throughout the film and both its opening titles and end credits are top-notch and keep the visuals consistent across the pre-release marketing, the film and all the ancillary stuff that’s out there (merch and the like). We’re reminded frequently that the team is made up of “the bad guys,” but in this world – there’s bad guys everywhere, on all sides of the fence… a matter of opinion. One big question that loomed pre-release was where in the timeline of the DC Extended Universe this film would land, with many pegging it as happening pre-BATMAN v. SUPERMAN. That’s not the case, so if you saw Bruce Wayne face off with Clark Kent earlier this year, SUICIDE SQUAD is the next chapter, and this is [SPOILER] a world without “The Man of Steel.” Things have gotten weirder, and the world is looking for a hero, and heroes come in different varieties. And the good guys? Just as reality has taught us, they can be pretty bad, too – especially those in government positions.

Fandango - Suicide Squad Comic Bundle GWPMargot Robbie as Harley Quinn and Jared Leto as The Joker are fantastic, each turning in performances ripe for future appearances elsewhere in the DCEU. Will Smith is also excellent as Deadshot, a tragic character that is both badass hitman and loving father – his 11-year-old daughter tugging at his heartstrings and on his mind with every single move he makes. The rest of the team is mostly fine as well, though in any massive ensemble, some are given less to do than others (Slipknot, Killer Croc, Boomerang, etc.) My only real point of criticism is that the looming threat looked a little too familiar – a swirling “ring of garbage” perched high above Midway City, somewhere in the American Midwest. The swirling chaos anchored by a column of light flowing straight into the sky recalls GHOSTBUSTERS (1984 and 2016), THE AVENGERS, and even DC’s THE MAN OF STEEL. Pair that with some faceless alien-style supernatural goons, and you have a threat that could’ve been more original – but still that’s a minor thing against a worthy first-outing for characters that I’d hope we’ll see a lot more of in the years ahead… a lot of action packed into a film that also features unexpected appearances by a couple of costumed folks that we have seen on-screen in the not so distance past. The fact that SUICIDE SQUAD is set to a killer soundtrack of classic jams and fresh tunes is the cherry on top.

–A word of caution for parents: SUICIDE SQUAD is not for young children, and yes – there were a few in our screening.–

SUICIDE SQUAD was written and directed by David Ayer, and stars Will Smith, Margot Robbie, Jared Leto, Jai Courtney, Joel Kinnaman, Cara Delevingne, Viola Davis, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, Adam Beach, Jay Hernandez, and Karen Fukuhara. The film is Rated PG – 13 for sequences of violence and action throughout, disturbing behavior, suggestive content and language.

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