If there’s some definites we can take out of Suicide Squad, it’s that DC need to forget about what Marvel is doing and Warner Bros. need to let their talent make the film they intended. It’s never been so obvious that a studio has ruined a film.
It may have set a box office record but let’s lay it all out to begin with. Suicide Squad is messy, choppy, undefined, jumbled, illogical, and at times quite boring. Yes, I am talking about the same movie that released some truly amazing trailers and launched one of the better marketing campaigns film has seen in the past few years. Everything was looking good. Fans were foaming at the mouth contemplating Jared Leto as The Joker and Margot Robbie as Harley Quinn, along with Will Smith as Deadshot. In the case of Harley Quinn especially, people were chomping at the bit considering it would be the iconic character’s live action debut.
Then Batman v Superman happened. A film that was lashed by the critics and while pretty successful financially, was still slightly below expectations. BvS was criticised for its poor editing, dull pacing, and lack of intriguing storyline. It was too dark, gritty, and serious apparently. Warner Bros. decided to take a look at Suicide Squad and thought ‘hang on, this is dark and gritty and serious, we need to change this.’ Cue a bunch of reshooting to insert new jokes and soundtracks to make their film as much like a marvel romp as possible. What they’ve done there is load the same faults onto Suicide Squad as BvS was guilty of. Instead of staying true to what DC has previously done well, they played chicken and lost. It was one thing to overhaul the tone of their film, but to do it so shoddily is embarrassing. The editing in this movie is quite frankly atrocious, so much so that most of the time a scene can’t even be called a scene. It’s more like a trailer clip leads into a trailer clip leads into a trailer clip…you get the message. Director David Ayer has made some outstanding films in the past including: Fury, End of Watch, and Training Day. Even his poorer efforts like Harsh Times have still been somewhat engaging and interesting. None have come close to the mess that is Suicide Squad, which leads me to believe he’s not entirely to blame.
The biggest disservice was done to Jared Leto and his portrayal of The Joker. Jared Leto is a fine actor but he’s made to look almost laughable (in a bad way) here while playing a gangster version of one of the most famous villains in DC history. It’s painfully obvious that much of his content has been cut from the film. He’s barely on screen for more than a minute each time he appears and there’s absolutely no chance to learn about, or get on board with the character. His motivations are unclear and his personality incomprehensible as he seems only concerned with his love obsession over Harley. He’s a mess of caricature and archetype.
There were two ways they could have fixed this: give him all his damn scenes back, or cut him out of the film entirely. Either option would have made a better film but they went straight down the middle and managed to further dispel any thought that Heath Ledger could ever be equalled.
Harley and Deadshot are treated a little better, and thus are the best parts of the film. At least they’re given some semblance of characterisation and not just left as poorly disguised skeletons. Margot Robbie does a good job, she looks amazing as the character and her dialogue mostly comes off. Her mannerisms are well realised too. But still, there isn’t enough depth for us to go with her as she complains about not being with her puddin’ (The Joker). Also, the blatant act of filming her from behind every chance they got was ridiculous in its predictability. Harley is a sexy character yes, they just forgot the character part.
Will Smith, to his credit, more or less carries the film with sheer charisma and they’re lucky they had someone with his bravado leading the team.
The only other character worth mentioning in a positive light is Captain Boomerang, played by Jai Courtney. Don’t get me wrong, he was given absolutely nothing to work with but at least he was entertaining. The rest aren’t worth mentioning and Enchantress (Cara Delevingne) was one of the worst villains we’ve ever seen, she’s bizarre.
Let’s get to the plot now. What a doozy. In this film we see heroes like The Flash and Batman doing their thing, and yet a threat that supposedly has the power to destroy earth is meant to be stopped by a misfit group of grossly underpowered criminals. Diablo, the only one of the group with real power, refuses to take part for most of the film, so the question is; why would Amanda Waller (Viola Davis) assemble a team that is anything but super to save her and the rest of humanity? Well it’s simple, because a giant beam in the sky that takes out satellites and drums up storms at sea can’t withstand one little bomb thrown by a crocodile man. Almost the entire film is spent with the squad walking through Midway City beating up blobs that used to be human while firing out snarky one-liners. The rest of the film is another movie completely as The Joker wanders around, wondering what the hell he did wrong to end up here. Perhaps the most glaringly obvious piece of laziness across the board is when a character is seemingly in mortal danger, like on the edge of death, but moments later appears in full make-up, not a speck of dust or blood on them. This is in the midst of a city that has more or less exploded in every direction. If only the story had sent this team to dispose of an evil dictator somewhere. Forget about Enchantress, forget about The Jokers antics for now, lets develop the characters we’re meant to care about.
But hey, at least the soundtrack is good right? Wrong. The soundtrack is another example of Warner Bros. meddling with the filmmaking. Popular songs are thrown haphazardly onto almost every scene to make them seem ‘fun’. No other reason is apparent. They add nothing to building the story or characters, and sabotage the tone of the movie at every turn. People like Denis Villeneuve must be searching for cyanide pills.
The funny thing is, the potential for a very good film can be seen. You can tell these characters are interesting, and these actors are talented. The problem is they were never given the chance to be, thanks to a snore-inducing narrative and some simply horrible post-production. If you’re thinking this review is harsh, it’s not the worst one out there.