In what may come as a big surprise to many, one hated Will Smith movie currently sits at #1 on the HBO Max streaming platform.
In 2016, Will Smith, along with his crazy band of misfits that included Margot Robbie, Joel Kinnaman, Viola Davis, Jai Courtney, Cara Delevingne, and Jared Leto appeared in the much-anticipated Suicide Squad. Fans were chomping at the bit to see what director David Ayer was putting together. The result was a mixed bag of hate and appreciation.
Suicide Squad tells the tale of a rogue’s gallery of criminals who are brought together by the overbearing, secretive, and a quite devious Amanda Waller (Davis), who dangles a carrot in front of their faces to get them to do her bidding.
The carrot – shortened sentences if they complete the mission at hand. Now, if this sounds familiar, as in The Dirty Dozen familiar, it’s because it is. While The Dirty Dozen (a classic 1967 war movie that each and every person should see) dealt with military criminals offered freedom if they were to successfully carry out a near-impossible mission, Suicide Squad leans on that familiar story, albeit with supervillains.
Here, Waller needs help from those who have nothing to lose. She brings together Deadshot (Smith), Harley Quinn (Robbie), Captain Boomerang (Courtney), El Diablo (Jay Hernandez), Killer Croc (Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje), and Slipknot (Adam Beach) to do the dirty work. To keep them under control, Waller has nanite bombs implanted in their necks on the real chance one or more get unruly and decide to venture away from the Squad and their mission.
What is their mission, you wonder? Well, it seems that an American archeologist, Dr. June Moone (Delevingne), is possessed by the demonic witch, Enchantress. Now, Waller can control this witch through Enchantress’ magical heart, and she does for the time being. But Enchantress is a sneaky one and she gets one over on Waller.
With Enchantress at large in Midway City, Waller puts together the Suicide Squad to bring Enchantress down. Two immediate problems arise. Col Rick Flag (Kinnaman), the appointed leader of Task Force X (aka the Suicide Squad) is in love with the good doctor, and the good doctor, now Enchantress, has summoned her incubus brother to help her destroy mankind.
When the Squad first meets up, it goes pretty much as one would expect. They do not get along, especially with the good guys in charge. Eventually, they develop an unhealthy working relationship and make their assault on Midway City.
As they arrive, their helicopter is shot down, forcing them to find Enchantress on foot. Somehow, Captain Boomerang convinces Slipknot that now is the time for him to make a break for it. Slipknot does, but not without warning. Flag ends up killing Slipknot for not obeying the simple order.
The hunt continues. The Suicide Squad finally reaches the skyscraper where Enchantress is conducting her world takeover, and this is where they learn of Waller’s involvement with Enchantress.
Pulling strings in the background is the Joker (Leto) whose mission is to break Harley free of Waller. He arrives at the wrong time but is able to follow through and disable Harley’s neck bomb.
Things look bleak for the entire squad, as well as the world when Deadshot finds Waller’s confidential files that talk about Flag’s relationship with Dr. Moone and they walk away from him.
Not all Task Force X members survive, as evidenced by Flag taking out Slipknot. But there are more casualties. There is also a great mid-credits scene that involves a certain caped crusader putting together a team of his own.
Will Smith was presented with two choices simultaneously. Star in Independence Day: Resurgence – the follow-up to his 1996 hit film – or take on a new role as Deadshot in David Ayer Suicide Squad. For Smith, the decision was fairly easy.
“I had the two screenplays in front of me for the Independence Day 2 and for Suicide Squad. I had to choose between the two of those,” Smith said via Entertainment Weekly. “Even the choice of going to Suicide Squad — nothing about the qualities of the movie — but the choice of trying to go forward versus clinging and clawing backwards. I do want to aggressively go forward and do new things and create and hopefully be able to stumble upon a new heyday.”
Although Ayer’s Suicide Squad was heavily panned by critics, the film was a financial success. The same can’t be said for Independence Day: Resurgence. It took Ayer $175 million to get his “squad” to the big screen while Roland Emmerich was given nearly the same, $165 million, for his alien-invading sequel. Emmerich saw a return of almost $390 million (not bad, but definitely expected more), while Ayer’s “despised” version of Suicide Squad pulled in an impressive $747 million.
So, why the hate for the film? Most complaints revolve around Ayer’s handling of the Joker. Other complaints concern the sloppy nature of the story (which Ayer also wrote) and the lack of a true villain. Not many were on board with Enchantress.
Hated or not, Will Smith looks to have made the right decision by taking on the DC film. In that regard, the numbers don’t lie.
Suicide Squad isn’t the first film Will Smith was in that took a beating. There was the truly horrible reimaging of the classic TV series Wild Wild West. There was After Earth. But for the few bad, there was a whole lot of good.
Will Smith has many blockbusters on his resume. The Fresh Prince has starred in blockbusters like the Bad Boys franchise as well as the Men in Black franchise. He has been nominated five times for a Golden Globe award as well as twice for an Academy Award. His well-received movies include Ali, The Pursuit of Happyness, Hitch, Seven Pounds, Six Degrees of Separation, Enemy of the State, and of course, Independence Day. It’s not all doom and gloom for the A-lister.
Although there is a new Suicide Squad (James Gunn’s The Suicide Squad) which is also available on HBO Max, you may want to give Will Smith’s another try. Perhaps you’ll find it more palatable after a second viewing.