MOVIE REVIEW: SUICIDE SQUAD
Reel Rating: 3.5 out of 5 Reels

MPAA Rating: PG-13 for sequences of violence and action throughout, disturbing behavior, suggestive content and language

Released in Theaters: August 5, 2016

Best for Ages: 13+

Genre: Superhero, Action

Runtime: 130 minutes

Directed by: David Ayer

Studio: Universal

Cast: Will Smith, Jai Courtney, Margot Robbie, Jared Leto, Joel Kinnaman

MOVIE SYNOPSIS: Based in the DC Comics universe, Suicide Squad follows a team of sketchy anti-heroes, including Will Smith as Deadshot and Margot Robbie as Harley Quinn, who are forced to team up for the greater good.

MOVIE REVIEW: There’s something alluring about a team of superheroes -- or anti-heroes, in this case -- who come from the wrong side of the tracks. I half-expected this movie to be rated R, figuring it would be similar to Ryan Reynolds’ Deadpool in that regard -- but it came in with a PG-13 rating to appeal to teens. It’s a little too intense for tweens -- kids in the 9 to 12 age group -- but ok for kids 13 and older.

The characters and story are based in the DC Comics universe and follow a group of sketchy villains who are forced to team up and work together on a deadly mission to save humanity (but of course). Viola Davis plays Amanda Waller, a ruthless intelligence official who heads a secret government task force that uses imprisoned meta-humans and criminals - a.k.a. the Suicide Squad - with special skills to fight other enhanced humans. The takeaway for the Squad is reduced prison sentences.

The Suicide Squad includes a devoted father and assassin-for-hire Deadshot (Will Smith); the Joker's maniacal sweetheart Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie); Aussie thief Boomerang (Jai Courtney); sewer-dwelling creature Killer Croc (Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje); fire-starting gangster Diablo (Jay Hernandez); and ancient witch Enchantress (Cara Delevingne), who inhabits the body of the demure June Moone.

When the Enchantress escapes and begins building a weapon of mass destruction, the team's first mission, under the leadership of Col. Rick Flag (The Killing’s Joel Kinnaman, one of my favorite actors), is to stop her. Meanwhile, the Joker (Jared Leto) is bent on freeing Harley.

As I’ve mentioned with previous superhero movies, I think it helps if you go into it without any expectations, meaning, not a lot of knowledge about the characters. I really liked this movie, unlike other movie critics familiar with the characters and comic book stories who expected more.

A stand-out is Margot Robbie, who doesn’t hold back with her Harley Quinn character who chews gum, dresses provocatively, and carries a baseball bat as a weapon. Aside from Will Smith, who seems like “Will Smith playing a character,” the other Squad-mates sort of all blend in together. I take that back; the fire-starter Diablo, played by Jay Hernandez, has a tragic story that sticks with you.

By the way, Hernandez' character could not be more different than his romantic character of Jessie Harkness on Bad Moms (Mila Kunis' love interest). For fans of Nashville, he also played Dante Rivas in that TV series.

While Suicide Squad doesn't have the fun, humorous vibe that some of the other superhero movies have (I'm thinking of Guardians of the Galaxy, in particular) these characters are pretty dark with tragic backstories, so I don’t know that it would have worked in this movie. Sure, there’s a few comical scenes, but it’s darker than some of the other superhero films. More in line with The Dark Knight trilogy, but not as fleshed out because there are just too many characters here to introduce to the audience. The plot is a bit convoluted, too (which makes the argument for knowing the story and characters before seeing the film). Overall, though, Suicide Squad is pretty entertaining.

Be sure and stay through the credits. After the movie ended, I got up to leave and noticed everyone else was staying, so I stayed and sure enough, like the Marvel movies, there’s a little add-on scene at the end.

PARENT OVERVIEW: Lots of action violence, including execution-style murders, widespread destruction and massive battle scenes. Characters die or are presumed dead. Language includes ‘s--t,’ ‘p---y,’ ‘ass’ and ‘bitch,’ as well as sexist insults and jokes. Sex and romance includes a few passionate kisses, references to sleeping together, and Harley Quinn dressed provocatively in revealing outfits.
PARENT DETAILS (May Contain Spoilers):
Violence/Gore: Violence throughout the movie includes close-up execution-style murders and people shot and killed, both by humans and meta-humans with supernatural abilities. Weapons include automatic guns, baseball bats, military-grade explosives, and boomerangs. A character sets people on fire, and recalls losing control of his abilities, with tragic results. Characters die or are presumed dead.

Sex/Nudity: Several passionate kisses between June and Flag, as well as Harley and the Joker. Harley acts and dresses seductively, including dancing on a pole and at a club. Characters reference sleeping together. The Joker asks an associate if he wants Harley.

Profanity: Several uses of ‘ass,’ ‘s--t,’ ‘a--hole,’ ‘p---y,’ ‘d--k,’ ‘balls,’ ‘hell,’ ‘damn,’ ‘bitch’ and ‘crap.’

Drugs/Alcohol: Characters drink together at a bar. Adults drink at the Joker’s club.
JANE’S REEL RATING SYSTEM:
One Reel – Even the Force can’t save it.

Two Reels – Coulda been a contender

Three Reels – Something to talk about.

Four Reels – You want the truth? Great flick!

Five Reels – Wow! The stuff dreams are made of.

Jane Boursaw is the film critic and editor-in-chief of Reel Life With Jane. Contact her at jboursaw@charter.net. Images in this review used courtesy of the studio and distributor.
MOVIE PREVIEW: SEPTEMBER 2016 - KIDS & TEENS THEATRICAL RELEASES
New movies for kids and teens in September include some cute family films, a classic film reboot, and the real-life story of Sully, starring Tom Hanks. Here’s a sneak peek at all the new movies for kids and teens in September. Note that release dates are subject to change.
THE LIGHT BETWEEN OCEANS
Rated PG-13 for thematic material and some sexual content | In Theaters 9/2 | Ok for Kids 13+ | DreamWorks, Disney | Reel Preview: 3.5 of 5 Reels

Based on M.L. Stedman's debut novel and directed by Derek Cianfrance, this drama follows the story of Tom Sherbourne (Michael Fassbender), who after four harrowing years on the Western Front, returns to Australia and takes a job as the lighthouse keeper on Janus Rock, nearly half a day’s journey from the coast. To this isolated island where the supply boat comes once a season, Tom brings a young, bold, and loving wife, Isabel (Alicia Vikander). Years later, after two miscarriages and one stillbirth, the grieving Isabel hears a baby’s cries on the wind. A boat has washed up onshore carrying a dead man and a living baby. Tom, who keeps meticulous records and whose moral principles have withstood a horrific war, wants to report the man and infant immediately. But Isabel insists the baby is a “gift from God.” Against Tom’s judgment, they claim her as their own and name her Lucy. When she is two, Tom and Isabel return to the mainland and are reminded that there are other people in the world - and their choices have devastated one of those people.
SULLY
Rated PG-13 for some peril and brief strong language | In Theaters 9/9 | Ok for Kids 13+ | Warner Bros. | Reel Preview: 4.5 of 5 Reels

On January 15, 2009, the world witnessed the “Miracle on the Hudson” when Captain “Sully” Sullenberger (Tom Hanks) glided his disabled plane onto the frigid waters of the Hudson River, saving the lives of all 155 aboard. However, even as Sully was being heralded by the public and the media for his unprecedented feat of aviation skill, an investigation was unfolding that threatened to destroy his reputation and career. Clint Eastwood directs from a screenplay by Todd Komarnicki, based on the book Highest Duty: My Search for What Really Matters, by Sullenberger and Jeffrey Zaslow. Also stars Aaron Eckhart and Laura Linney.
BEFORE I WAKE
Rated PG-13 for violent content and terror, including disturbing images | Ok for Kids 14+ | In Theaters 9/9 | Relativity | Reel Preview: 3.5 of 5 Reels

Directed by Mike Flanagan, this supernatural thriller follows a couple, Jessie (Kate Bosworth) and Mark (Thomas Jane), who decide to take in a sweet and loving 8-year-old boy, Cody. Unbeknownst to them, Cody is terrified of falling asleep. At first, they assume his previous unstable homes caused his aversion to sleep, but they soon discover why: Cody's dreams manifest in reality as he sleeps. In one moment they experience the incredible wonder of Cody’s imagination, and in the next, the horrific nature of his night terrors. To save their new family, Jessie and Mark embark on a dangerous hunt to uncover the truth behind Cody’s nightmares. Also stars Annabeth Gish and Jacob Tremblay.
THE WILD LIFE
Rated PG for mild action/peril and some rude humor | In Theaters 9/9 | Ok for Kids 6+ | Summit, Lionsgate | Reel Preview: 3 of 5 Reels

From the exuberant parrot Tuesday to the snack-obsessed tapir Rosie, things are larger-than-life on a tropical island that is a paradise for wild animals in this CG-animated family movie directed by Vincent Kesteloot. When Robinson Crusoe, a marooned human, arrives in the midst of a furious storm, their lives are forever changed by this bewildering new “creature.” No matter their differences, castaway human and quirky animals embark on an hilarious adventure to build a tree house and survive together. But when two conniving members of the animal kingdom -- savage cats Mal and May -- pounce into a battle for control of the island, Crusoe and his animal posse must uncover the true power of friendship.
SNOWDEN
Rated R for language and some sensuality/nudity | In Theaters 9/16 | Open Road Films | Reel Preview: 4.5 of 5 Reels

Directed by Oliver Stone, this politically-charged thriller starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Shailene Woodley reveals the incredible untold personal story of Edward Snowden, the polarizing figure who exposed shocking illegal surveillance activities by the NSA and became one of the most wanted men in the world. He is considered a hero by some and a traitor by others. No matter which you believe, the epic story of why he did it, who he left behind, and how he pulled it off makes for one of the most compelling films of the year. The all-star cast also includes Melissa Leo, Zachary Quinto, Tom Wilkinson, Nicolas Cage, Scott Eastwood and Timothy Olyphant.
THE MAGNIFICENT SEVEN
Rated PG-13 for extended and intense sequences of Western violence, and for historical smoking, some language and suggestive material | In Theaters 9/23 | Ok for Kids 13+ | Sony, MGM | Reel Preview: 4 of 5 Reels

Director Antoine Fuqua brings his modern vision to the classic film released in 1960. With the town of Rose Creek under the deadly control of industrialist Bartholomew Bogue (Peter Sarsgaard), the desperate townspeople employ protection from seven outlaws, bounty hunters, gamblers, and hired guns: Sam Chisolm (Denzel Washington), Josh Farraday (Chris Pratt), Goodnight Robicheaux (Ethan Hawke), Jack Horne (Vincent D'Onofrio), Billy Rocks (Byung-Hun Lee), Vasquez (Manuel Garcia-Rulfo), and Red Harvest (Martin Sensmeier). As they prepare the town for the violent showdown that they know is coming, these seven mercenaries find themselves fighting for more than money.
STORKS
Rated PG for mild action and some thematic elements | In Theaters 9/23 | Ok for Kids 6+ | Warner Bros. | Reel Preview: 3.5 of 5 Reels

Storks deliver babies, or at least they used to. Now they deliver packages for global internet giant Cornerstore. Junior, the company’s top delivery stork, is about to be promoted when he accidentally activates the Baby Making Machine, producing an adorable and wholly unauthorized baby girl. Desperate to deliver this bundle of trouble before the boss gets wise, Junior and his friend Tulip, the only human on Stork Mountain, race to make their first-ever baby drop – in a wild and revealing journey that could make more than one family whole and restore the storks’ true mission in the world. This cute family movie features an all-star voice cast, including Andy Samberg, Kelsey Grammer, Ty Burrell, and Jennifer Aniston.
DEEPWATER HORIZON
Not yet rated; likely PG-13 | In Theaters 9/30 | Ok for Kids 13+ | Summit, Lionsgate | Reel Preview: 4 of 5 Reels

Based on true events that occurred on an oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico on April 20, 2010, this film chronicles the courage of those who worked on the Deepwater Horizon and the extreme moments of bravery and survival in the face of what would become one of the biggest man-made disasters in world history. Directed by Peter Berg, this movie stars Mark Wahlberg, Kurt Russell, John Malkovich, Dylan O'Brien, Gina Rodriguez and Kate Hudson.
MISS PEREGRINE'S HOME FOR PECULIAR CHILDREN
Not yet rated; likely PG | In Theaters 9/30 | Ok for Kids 10+ | 20th Century Fox | Reel Preview: 4 of 5 Reels

Directed by Tim Burton, this fantastical film is based on the best-selling novel by Ransom Riggs. When Jake discovers clues to a mystery that spans alternate realities and times, he uncovers a secret refuge known as Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children. As he learns about the residents and their unusual abilities, Jake realizes that safety is an illusion and danger lurks in the form of powerful, hidden enemies. Jake must figure out who is real, who can be trusted, and who he really is. Asa Butterfield, Eva Green, Allison Janney, Rupert Everett, Judi Dench and Samuel L. Jackson star.
MASTERMINDS
Rated PG-13 for crude and sexual humor, some language and violence | In Theaters 9/30 | Ok for Kids 14+ | Relativity | Reel Preview: 3.5 of 5 Reels

In this action comedy based on true events and directed by Jared Hess (Napoleon Dynamite), David Ghantt (Zach Galifianakis) is an uncomplicated man stuck in a monotonous life. Day in and day out he drives an armored vehicle, transporting millions of other people’s money with no escape in sight. The only glimmer of excitement is his flirtatious work crush Kelly Campbell (Kristen Wiig) who soon lures him into the scheme of a lifetime. Along with a group of half-brained criminals led by Steve Chambers (Owen Wilson) and a faulty heist plan, David manages the impossible and makes off with $17 million in cash. The only problem? He foolishly hands the money over to this wild group of double-crossers, who set him up to take the fall.
THE EDGE OF SEVENTEEN
Not yet rated; likely PG-13 | In Theaters 9/30 | Ok for Kids 13+ | STX | Reel Preview: 4 of 5 Reels

This coming-of-age movie in the vein of Sixteen Candles and The Breakfast Club offers an honest, candid, often hilarious look at what it's like to grow up as a young woman in today's modern world. Everyone knows that growing up is hard, and life is no easier for high school junior Nadine (Hailee Steinfeld), who is already at peak awkwardness when her all-star older brother Darian (Blake Jenner) starts dating her best friend Krista (Haley Lu Richardson). All at once, Nadine feels more alone than ever, until the unexpected friendship of a thoughtful boy (Hayden Szeto) gives her a glimmer of hope that things just might not be so terrible after all. Directed by Kelly Fremon, this movie also stars Kyra Sedgwick as Nadine's well-meaning but completely ineffective mother, and Woody Harrelson as Nadine’s History teacher, mentor, and reluctant sounding board.
JANE’S REEL RATING SYSTEM
One Reel – Even the Force can’t save it.

Two Reels – Coulda been a contender

Three Reels – Something to talk about.

Four Reels – You want the truth? Great flick!

Five Reels – Wow! The stuff dreams are made of.

Jane Boursaw is the film critic and editor-in-chief of Reel Life With Jane. Contact her at jboursaw@charter.net. Images used with permission of the studios and distributors.