The idea behind Suicide Squad is way better than the finished product
I don’t think there was any movie this summer that was as widely hyped as Suicide Squad – the third film in the DC Extended Universe’s (DCEU) cannon of films – after 2013’s Man of Steel and this year’s Batman VS Superman: Dawn of Justice. And you can understand DC wanting to hype up the movie considering how disappointingly Batman VS Superman fared earlier this year, critically and commercially.
So, Suicide Squad; the premise is fairly simple. Viola Davis plays Amanda Waller, a high-up government agent who decides to assemble a taskforce containing the worst of the worst; rogues, thieves, heartless assassins et al, against their will, in the wake of the events from Batman VS Superman, in case something dangerous and uncontrollable poses a threat to earth.
The worst of the worst in this case include, Deadshot, (Will Smith) a lethal hit man who never misses; Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie) the sexy, unhinged and deadly girlfriend of the Joker (Jared Leto); the flame-summoning ex-gang member El Diablo (Jay Hernandez); Australian jewel thief Captain Boomerang (Jai Courtney) and the half-man, half-reptile Killer Croc (Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje), all of whom are under the command of a Navy SEAL and military man, Rick Flag (Joel Kinnaman)
Sounds like a fun and entertaining ride, right?
See, the thing about Suicide Squad is that the idea behind it is actually way better than the finished product. It seems to me that both the studio and the filmmakers weren’t exactly sure of what they wanted in this movie. Through a number of reshoots, they ended up making an inconsistently toned and incoherent mess of a movie.
This is rather disappointing because Suicide Squad starts off quite well. The first act, which introduces us to the characters, in this expositional flash-card sequence stays true to the fun tone this movie is initially trying to go with. But there’s actually an exact moment where you can see this movie starting to go off the rails. And once Suicide Squad goes into its second act, everything pretty much goes south.
I think the movie can, at best, be described as choppy and badly directed. I don’t think the film has any real structure. The editing is so bad that it feels like a random collection of scenes. The scenes themselves have no real flow, feel very out of place and would probably make more sense if they were put on shuffle. Plus, for some reason the movie keeps hitting you with these on-the-nose music cues that serve no purpose other than being painfully annoying.
The pacing is utterly egregious and the action sequences are incredibly weightless, boring and incoherent. So much so that even when you’re able to grasp what’s actually going on, you’d much rather take a bathroom break or check your messages. It is that dull.
And even though the movie wants us to believe that these are some genuinely bad and twisted people, it never actually goes ahead in establishing that, because apart from Deadshot and Harley Quinn, most of the characters are just poorly developed. Which is why, eventually when they come together as a team, there is a lack of believability, even though the actors all seem to be trying their best.
Amidst the dullness of it all, you think “it can’t possibly get any worse” – and then, it does.
In a generic finale featuring two of the worst comic book movie villains in recent memory, that calls back to last year’s Fantastic Four, The Avengers and basically every major superhero movie in recent memory, Suicide Squad sinks even deeper into a weightless, CGI spectacle territory until it’s finally over and you can breathe a sigh of relief.
Now, it’s not all bad; there are a few things about Suicide Squad that do work, most notably, the performances, even though they are not nearly enough to save the movie. The pick of these performances would have to be Will Smith as Deadshot, who’s probably the only character with any real characterisation to him. And Will effectively portrays his character through that charm and charisma that he’s known for in his performances. I think Viola Davis is excellent as the government agent, Amanda Waller, and is actually more of a bada** than any of the other members of the Suicide Squad. Margot Robbie’s portrayal of Harley Quinn is good and she is true to the source material, even if she isn’t quite the show-stealer the trailers and pre-movie hype suggested she would be.
And then of course there’s Jared Leto as the Joker. I guess now it makes sense why Leto spearheaded so many shenanigans on set. If you had as much downtime as he did not being in this movie, you might have done the same as well.
Yup, he’s barely in it, and it’s downright embarrassing how this movie embeds him because he doesn’t serve any real purpose to the story. For what little time Leto is in the movie, his portrayal of the Joker struck me as interesting, although not very original. He seems to be channelling a bit of Heath Ledger and a bit of James Franco (as Alien in Spring Breakers). And though he seems more like a thug than the crown prince of crime, especially with the tattoos, purple Lamborghini’s and ‘grillz’ on his teeth; he has this craziness to him that the character is known for. If only he had some actual screen-time.
At the end of the day though, Suicide Squad just feels like a product of bad story-telling, substandard editing and action sequences that carry no real heft. It is yet another unsatisfying entry to the DCEU, which is disappointing because with such a talented cast and a filmmaker of David Ayer’s pedigree who has been behind great films in the past such as Training Day, End of Watch and Fury – this movie should have been far better.
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