Here is what I know about comics: there are two universes, two main superheroes, the convention looks fun and, based on how many renditions of the same film centering around the same character can be made every other year, its movies are apparently special and immune to the basic industry rules that other films have to quietly follow. Plainly speaking, I don't know much. So being assigned to see and understand the Suicide Squad—so many bad guys, so many back stories, so little time—sounded like a very tall order, like a crash course in comics.
But aside from being able to make sense of the basics—Viola Davis' Amanda Waller is a federal government operative who assigns NAVY Seal Rick Flag (Joel Kinnaman) to corral and keep in order a team of imprisoned "metahumans" who, if and when the time comes, will be recruited to fight any extraordinary (see: extraterrestrial) threats to national security—here are five things I know to be true about this film without knowing much at all.
Will Smith and Margot Robbie carry the whole damn film.
Unintentionally and maybe even unbeknownst to them, Suicide Squad quickly becomes Smith and Robbie's redemption song for that Focus flop that we are all still trying to forget. As Deadshot—the heartless hitman who doesn't miss—and Harley Quinn—the Joker's mallet-swinging, silly, sadistic and sarcastic muse, the two rekindle their former conman chemistry and get nearly equal screen time to deliver the most entertaining one-liners of the film. When Deadshot, a grumpy and smug smart-ass, demands that Flag get his daughter into an Ivy League school in exchange for his release to go off and become Robin Hood for the regime, he gives nod to Flag's privilege: "I need you to 'white people' that thing.” And when Quinn, whose booty short-encased ass gets more airtime than some of the superfluous characters (more on that next) and whose cutesy and childlike "Who, me?" faux innocence shockingly never loses its charm, meets Katana (a, surprise(!), sword-wielding ninja), she asks in her usual deranged and dimwitted cheerleader tongue: "Love your perfume. What is that, the Stench of Death?"
The film could do without some of the "heroes," like entirely.
Again, I am admittedly not well-versed in the DC universe, but for me to turn to my co-worker mid-movie and ask, "What's that guy's superpower again?" largely suggests that the script is not allowing him to dick-swing nearly enough, so why bother including? (P.S. I later discovered I was referring to Jai Courtney's character. Whose name is literally "Boomerang." Which is also his weapon. I rest my case.) Additionally, the aforementioned Katana speaks so infrequently unless it is to her sword which, though we learn earlier in the film houses the souls of those killed by it, feels silly to watch her do in real-time. And then there's the damn sewer-dwelling Killer Croc. For me to recognize, with no prior knowledge of the character or its casting, that the beast who so easily could have been racially-ambiguous due to the fact that, ya know, he's completely covered in reptilian scales and not human features, was black says a lot about the minimal dialogue he was given. It's in the way he says "Shawty." It's in the way he asks for BET as his only prison cell wish. There's a reason my co-worker renamed him "Ghetto Gator," guys.
The music is so, so on-point.
If you don't sing along, wiggle in your seat once, or get bitten by even the tiniest bug of nostalgia upon hearing this soundtrack, you hate music and, in that case, what are you doing here at REVOLT? When we first see Smith's Deadshot, he's boxing at the Louisiana maximum-security prison Belle Reve to the long drawled lyrics of "The House of the Rising Sun," and later when showcasing his incomparable shot and precision on some poor targets, it's to Kanye West's "Black Skinhead." Harley Quinn's introduction, as she dangles from her Hannibal Lecter-like cage, is set to Lesley Gore's appropriately defiant classic "You Don't Own Me"; when she's playing the mouse to a tattooed Common's cat in a club, it's Rick James' "Super Freak"; and when she goes apeshit in an elevator with her choice of weapon, a baseball bat, it's to K7's "Come Baby Come." (Get it? "Swing batter batter batter.") When the Squad is rounded up and finally emerges as a team, the forward march that is the White Stripes' "Seven Nation Army" guides them; when they're reunited with their pre-prison gear, their giddiness is matched by Eminem's playfully annoying "Without Me"; and when they drown their sorrows together at a bar, the blues of Etta James' "I'd Rather Go Blind" matches their mood. Queen's "Bohemian Rhapsody" makes the cut too to assist in a strong closer.
Be nice to Jared Leto; maybe the Joker is just a really hard role to play.
Considering how heavily Jared Leto's the Joker was used to promote this film, you'd expect him to be in it for more than a handful of minutes. Was it his reported "method" acting madness that was off-putting? Will Smith said he never technically "met" Leto, the man; Viola Davis wondered if she'd been "transported to another dimension" while watching him film his shootout scene; writer/director David Ayer was grateful Leto kept "his distance" from the cast; and the method actor himself admitted he gifted the cast with rats, dead pigs, used condoms and anal beads. So, yeah, not exactly the ideal college roomie. But, guys, let’s remember that the Joker is a ridiculous person with an even more impossible presence. For a role that requires you to embrace mania as if it's a positive personality trait, grandly move like a magician with every motion and shoot off a demented and exaggerated cackle every few minutes like it's the real thing and not a mockery, Leto had his work cut out for him and he did the damn thing. Mm hmm, he did. For those whole 7 minutes.
Stay for the post-credits scene.
I don't know what it means, but I feel like it's important.
REVOLT's Lawrence Jackson was on the "Suicide Squad" red carpet during the NYC premiere and spoke to Margot Robbie, Kevin Smith, G-Eazy and more.