We’re never going to see a Suicide Squad movie in theaters. But, while they may not have the marquee name, it’s the Squad that heads up Batman: Assault On Arkham, and it’s a gleefully nasty action-comedy that perfectly captures the spirit of the original comics.
This is supposed to be spinning off of the ending of the recent Batman: Arkham games, especially the portable title, but it’s abundantly clear this was meant to be its own thing, quite possibly adapted from one of the several Suicide Squad film scripts floating around the Warner Bros. vault. Batman may be on the cover and they may use designs and art from the game, but this is primarily a Suicide Squad movie. They’re the heroes… well, they’re the protagonists, and it’s about time.
Even better is just how faithful it is to the comic from the ’80s, where anyone could die, Deadshot and Captain Boomerang hated each other, and Amanda Waller wasn’t just Lana with a government job. Here Waller is overweight and not in the mood for anyone’s crap, firmly establishing the creative team here gets what makes the comics great. Batman and the Joker are in this, but the hunt for a dirty bomb is a side plot to what Task Force X is getting up to elsewhere.
In fact the overall tone of the proceedings is surprisingly R-rated; there’s profanity, rude hand gestures, a handful of topless scenes albeit no actual nudity, plenty of fatalities complete with blood, and even a sex scene. The feel is very much one of a mid-budget action movie from the ’80s, and that’s no bad thing.
The animation is quite good; I’m not the biggest fan of the semi-anime style recent Batman movies have adopted, and the faux shaky-cam in some scenes is a little off-putting. But overall, the action is well-done. It helps that the movie itself clocks in at less than seventy-five minutes before credits, and there are so many plot elements in play it doesn’t have time to get bogged down or start getting stupid. There are action movies in theaters right now that could take notes from the narrative economy on display here.
Finally, it resolutely refuses to end on a sequel hook, and you know what? Good. I wouldn’t mind a sequel, but at the same time, if this stays a single, self-contained story, it’ll still be a fun, satisfying take on a DC classic. The Blu-Ray, which was released two weeks after the digital version, is mostly worth picking up for the detailed commentary with several key staff discussing creative and technical challenges; it’s pretty in-depth and a fun listen. You also get a few fluff features, including a half-hour one about Arkham that’s a fun little recap of the least competently run penal facility in fiction.
In short, throw your money at this one; the team behind it cared enough to make it worth your time.