‘Suicide Squad’: Lots of Bark, Not Enough Bite
You know what? Let’s just cut to the chase.
The latest installment to the DCEU (formerly knows as the $$$Snyderverse$$$), ‘Suicide Squad’, follows the events of ‘Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice [and Stuff]’ where the world is now wondering what to do with meta-humans after Superman made a flashy appearance on Earth. This prompts the American government to find a solution proposed by Amanda Waller (Viola Davis) and assemble a task force of some of the deadliest criminals to ever be housed in Belle Reve Prison to carry out covert operations in the dark. The reward? Time off prison sentences, family time and not getting your head blown off. The unquestioning Rick Flag (Joel Kinnaman), alongside Katana (Karen Fukuhara), leads Deadshot (Will Smith), Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie), Captain Boomerang (Jai Courtney), Killer Croc (Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbage), Slipknot (Adam Beach) and Diablo (Jay Hernandez) on their first mission to rescue a priority target but, naturally, things go off the rails and they find themselves in a city wide struggle against a certain prospective member gone rogue.
I’ll be honest, with ‘Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice [and Stuff]’ breaking my heart a few months ago I wasn’t sure if the minds behind the DCEU knew how to tell a coherent story. ‘Suicide Squad’ did have a coherent story…but a very, very weak one. There’s a beginning, middle, and end (that’s sadly a lot more than a lot of films that have come out this year) and the acts run together pretty well, it’s just that what’s given to the audience isn’t strong enough to make everyone care about everything. It often feels like a lot of the movie takes place outside of the world the threat is taking place in and it really undermines the villain and their dastardly deeds. With that being said, please don’t fall into the Marvel villain problem DC.
It’s no secret that ‘Suicide Squad’ has been getting an onslaught of negative reviews from the early screenings. With so many floating around, and even some comparing it to the masterpiece that was ‘Fantastic Four’, it begs the question: Does it deserve all the hate? Was it really that bad?
Short answer: No. Long answer: In some cases, it’s deserved.
Now allow me to explain. I fell in love with the style the movie was going for. It was unashamedly comic book, it was daring, it was bold, it was its own thing and I was glad that ‘Suicide Squad’ embraced that aesthetic and feeling for a good bit. It was fun. I wish it had been consistent throughout but it’s obvious that the re-editing and reshooting caused it to stop dead…but more on that later. ‘Suicide Squad’s strong point is undoubtedly the cast. My goodness the cast. Will Smith absolutely kills it as Deadshot, Margot Robbie is the perfect Harley Quinn, Viola Davis puts on a stellar Amanda Waller (what an actress!) and, I don’t know how they did it, but Jai Courtney was an absolute blast on screen as Captain Boomerang. Let me say that again. Jai Courtney was an absolute blast on screen as Captain Boomerang. The chemistry between most of the characters works so well, most notably Will Smith and Margot Robbie, and makes for dynamic characters that just steal the show. I found myself laughing at some great one-liners and there are some golden moments that I have to give David Ayer credit for. I also have to say that I enjoyed the spin on the classic superhero tale…for the most part. These are villains and a lot of the time the film does a great job going places with these villains that I didn’t expect. I won’t spoil too much but I will say that although it didn’t make it through the entire film I enjoyed those little moments that just went to show that these guys are indeed bad guys with good backstories. It’s what they do. Lastly, a major round of applause for the cameos. Although there could’ve been more, I enjoyed each and every one (#BatfleckForPresident). So much better than ‘Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice [and Stuff]’. They worked well to sort of introduce us to the world in which the DCEU will be taking place and that big things are indeed on the way. It felt like the team behind this movie did their research and actually tried to get a good adaptation from comic book page to screen. There were problems but I’ll take what I’m given for now and be content.
Now here’s what I didn’t like. The film was a mess at times, albeit a beautiful one. The trademark issue is the editing and pacing. Things happen at different points in the film that either could’ve been cut out completely or shifted around to put it somewhere else more appropriate, particularly things that have to do with the main villain of the film. This made things seem just a bit confusing for the order of events. Personally it didn’t make the film completely unwatchable but I can understand why that would make a lot of critics angry. Another big issue was that even though ‘Suicide Squad’ holds a lot of great characters, it came at the cost of others. We get a lot of Deadshot, Harley Quinn, Diablo and even the villain but not nearly enough of everyone else. We’re introduced to these guys and I want to know so much more about them but I just didn’t get it. They touch very briefly all of their backstories, and what they touched on was pretty great, but it really felt as if everyone else was jipped out of an opportunity to actual characters. That leads to the overarching issue that the DCEU absolutely needs to fix for all future films: Stay true to your films. Stop the reshoots. Stop the re-edits. Stop the re-casting. Stop the Marvel worship. Write your films, stay true to what you want and give the audience exactly that. You have the rights to these characters and their stories. Use them. Stop giving us watered down Marvel-esque stuff and then slapping an Extended-Ultimate-Gritty Cut on the DVD just to make up for sales. Just make good films guys. That’s part of the reason why the villain in this film was so lacking. I’m sure in the original cut there was more of a reason for things to happen the way they did but for theatrical release we just don’t get much of anything for him/her. He/She shows up, does his/her thing and then we get a stop for a while and then WHAM back to the action. Another place this shows up is with The Joker (Jared Leto). The hot question is whether or not he’s any good in the film but I don’t think there can even be an answer because he just doesn’t get the screen time as promised. It’s, once again, obvious that the reshoots made Joker a weak (and arguably unnecessary) tie in to everything that is happening. I will say that I enjoyed everything between him and Harley but there wasn’t enough of anything else for me to draw a half decent opinion of him. ‘Suicide Squad’ suffered too much from having too many hands in the pot and while I think the positives outweighed the negatives, the negatives sure made things more difficult than they needed to be because now…Where are we in the DC timeline??
So does Ayer’s ‘Suicide Squad’ actually hold up? Well yes and no. As I said before, this is a fun and entertaining film that’s leagues beyond ‘Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice [and Stuff]’ but it’s not without glaring issues that can/will prove fatal for the DCEU if they don’t get their act together. Strong performances paired with a unique style makes this film very watchable but unfortunately pacing and a weak plot holds it back from achieving it’s true potential. It’s not nearly as bad as a lot of critical reviews make it out to be but the majority are correct in a lot of their criticisms. David Ayer didn’t make the film I was promised but I still managed to have a good time and will probably watch it again in theaters. In the meantime, this was enough to get to me watch the next film, ‘Wonder Woman’ and fingers crossed that somewhere along the road the higher ups can fix the glaring issues that has plagued the last two films in time to save their fan base.
I give ‘Suicide Squad’ a solid 6 with a must purchase for Blu-ray just for the behind the scenes content and potential extended cut.