The Suicide Squad – Review
I want to like what DC are selling but they make is so bloody hard. Batman Vs Superman was a lesson in how not to merge two cinematic universes and just like that movie Suicide Squad falls into all the same holes. Watching the Suicide Squad is akin to being repeatedly kicked in the nuts whilst your favorite band watch on cheering. I wanted it to be good, I wanted it to be amazing, a mind blowing collection of some of the DCU’s most interesting, twisted characters. What we got was a shiny plate full of shit sandwiches. The only plus was some of those shit sandwiches had peanut butter in them but you never knew which ones.
From the off Suicide Squad is a jumbled mess of quite staggering proportions. It’s fitting that a movie based on a bunch of chaotic, psychopaths is such a jumbled chaotic mess. Scenes rarely flow together leaving little coherence and the poor character introductions leave all but the keenest DC followers confused about who the characters actually are. At times it feels like a collection of 2 minute trailers with the choppy editing leaving the narrative, almost non-existent at best and confusing at its worst. It’s clear to see the film has been hastily chopped together no doubt due to the large reshoots following the well-publicised test screenings. Perhaps most damningly the comedy moments of which there are a few fall flat barely raising a laugh during the showing I was at. The majority of comedy moments were heavily used during the trailers which left little we hadn’t already seen.
Of all the Characters on show it does at times feel like a Deadshot movie so strong is Will Smith’s presence. He is given the lion’s share of screen time and dialogue and assumes the role of the squad’s leader and moral compass. Suicide Squad could have been renamed Deadshot and co and nobody would bat an eyelid. Unlike the other characters Deadshot has several flashbacks that show more of his backstory painting him as an amoral elite assassin but one that only kills for business. The vast majority of Deadshots backstory focuses on his relationship with his Daughter in an attempt to inject some humanity into his character and make the audience warm to him more. Deadshot also has a run in with DC’s main man but like so many parts of the film it’s pretty pointless and poorly laid out.
The other key character is the iconic but poorly understood Harley Quinn who plays a large part in proceedings. In a film full with disappointments I would go so far as to single out Margot Robbie’s frequently exceptional performance as arguably its best part. Ridiculously short, shorts aside I found Robbie’s performance to be both wildly erratic but also timid and deeply conflicted. A perfect encapsulation of all that makes Harley Quinn such an interesting character.
As well as being the heart of the squad she also plays the role of comic relief really well but its Robbie’s ability to swing between the destructive psychopathic loose cannon and the damaged, vulnerable victim of Mr J. It’s in these moments where Suicide Squad threatens to pull its shit together and break free of its continuous clusterfuck nature. Unfortunately DC decide not to show her true origins deciding to forgo the torture and abuse she suffered in favour of a soppy love story that was more Twilight than anything DC should ever be. A real missed opportunity for DC to really show the audience the true origins of their rising icon but possibly they saved this for her own movie?
Other highlights include Flagg who was kickass throughout and Will Smith’s excellent performance as Deadshot. Flagg is the typical Special Forces bloke all bluster and aggression but he is also hopelessly in love with the human host of Enchantress. Their almost symbiotic relationship isn’t fleshed out nearly enough but is an interesting angle and one that could have elevated the film considerably.
In a film full of disappointments some stood out and none more so than the lack of screen time for dear old Mr J. He pops up here and there but is largely redundant reduced to a teaser type appearance but what I did see convinces me that Jarod Leto will be a brilliant Joker. Leto’s joker is a sinister, psychotic and totally unstable megalomaniac who takes great delight in making his enemies suffer as much as possible. Visually he is very different from Heath Ledgers seminal portrayal but no less sinister.
The rest of the squad are largely irrelevant outside a couple of scenes towards the end where we see El Diablo getting a token amount of screen time. Captain Boomerang is mildly amusing and Killer Croc is a snarling monstrous presence again largely irrelevant to the overall narrative. I appreciate there is only a limited amount of time to spend on each character but surely they could have spared a few minutes to explain his origins.
Enchantress was the ace up the sleeve of the Suicide Squad brining with her the magical elements that often set DC apart from Marvel. Again this was another huge misstep by DC with barely any actual screen time devoted to the Character let alone her role as antagonist. One minute Enchantress is an unwilling member of the Wallers plans the next she is gone off to create her army of weird bad dudes. The villains are pretty irrelevant to the overall plot outside the final act as all the focus is on the Squad but without ever fleshing them out beyond some naff flashback scenes.
My overall feeling towards Suicide Squad was one of disappointment and frustration that perhaps the most promising comic license outside of Deadpool. It’s hard not to think that partway through the filming DC ordered a considerable change of direction causing the movie to become such a fragmented, conflicted experience. Rumours started to circulate indicating DC were concerned by the critical reception of Batman Vs Superman in particular it’s overly sombre tone and ordered a drastic reshoot and the injection of a lighter overall tone. This is borne out frequently throughout the film which really does feel like two wildly different movies blended together at the last minute. There is little doubt the film bares little resemblance to the original script in both pacing and tone such is the contrast on show. I’ve already mentioned how chaotic it feels and it’s worth revisiting again to reinforce that overall feeling.
The entire thing feels like a Michael Bay Movie full of explosions, loud music and a chaotic, incoherent presentation. It’s just such a total mess of a movie to sit through and such a shame that DC still haven’t got their shit sorted. There is a vibrant, powerful and well written movie in there somewhere buried under all the baggage that DC bring. The DC universe is a confused place not sure whether to continue along its path towards a darker, grittier universe in stark contrast to the bright, family friend Marvel universe.
It’s this deep contradiction that must take the blame for the state of the Suicide Squad. DC desperately need a Joss Whedon figure to guide them in much the same way Joss has carried the torch for everything Marvel. DC need to find their direction and they need to do it fast as people will soon run out of patience and the goodwill left over from The Dark Knight will soon be gone.