DC commits career ‘Suicide’

From left to right, JAI COURTNEY as Boomerang, MARGOT ROBBIE as Harley Quinn, WILL SMITH as Deadshot, JOEL KINNAMAN as Rick Flag and JAY HERNANDEZ as Diablo in Warner Bros. Pictures’ action adventure “SUICIDE SQUAD,” a Warner Bros. Pictures release.

Suicide Squad

*½/****

By Jason Wiese

Where do we begin with the DC Extended Universe? Never have I seen a franchise divide America’s comic book fans and film critics alike so strongly. With two releases under its belt (2013’s Man of Steel and this year’s Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice), its films have been relentlessly scrutinized and picked apart by their audience from the second they were announced and long after they were released in the attempt to figure out what Hollywood did wrong. With Suicide Squad, the live action interpretation of the comic book series that puts the bad guys in the position of carrying out good deeds, the answer is simple: the script is weaker than Superman exposed to Kryptonite.

The film begins with brightly colored redesigns of the Warner Bros. and DC logos and the sound of the Animals’ “House of the Rising Sun” (one of many blindly scattered classic rock tunes in the soundtrack) playing over a montage of scenes showing life in modern day Arkham Asylum (I think?). We are then introduced to Amanda Waller (Viola Davis) who presents to the government the idea of forming a task force of “some very bad people who can do some good.” How does she get them to cooperate? Explosive charges planted in their necks that will blow their heads off with the push of a button.

On the roster of DC villains turned reluctant heroes is yet-to-miss-a-target assassin and troubled father Deadshot (Will Smith), the sexy and unpredictable psychopath Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie), irritating, walking Australian stereotype Captain Boomerang (Jai Courtney), heavily tattooed firebender Diablo (Jay Hernandez), indecipherably accented mutant Killer Croc (Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje), Enchantress; a centuries old witch whose spirit lives inside the body of archaeologist June Moon (Cara Delevingne), the magic sword toting Katana (Karen Fukuhara) and Slipknot (Adam Beach), whom I am afraid I cannot give a proper description for because the movie does not give one either. Waller calls on Colonel Rick Flag (Joel Kinnaman) to be this team’s moral conscience as they embark on a mission to save the world from a plot that writer-director David Ayer scraped the bottom of the barrel to come up with.

VIOLA DAVIS as Amanda Waller in Warner Bros. Pictures’ action adventure “SUICIDE SQUAD,” a Warner Bros. Pictures release.

Now, perhaps you are curious as to why Academy Award-winner Jared Leto’s highly anticipated portrayal of The Joker is absent from my plot description. I, honestly, did not see a reason to mention him. Truly, Leto’s passion and respect for bringing this widely beloved character back to life on the silver screen is visible, but his contribution to the film’s storyline is not. Yep, that’s right: the film’s marketing use Joker as a ploy to fool you into believing he was the main antagonist. If the script had given Leto some real ammunition to use with this character, his interpretation could have been this film’s saving grace. Instead, he is subjected to cringe-inducing dialogue and scenes that must break the world record for most rapid succession of unnecessary quick cuts between camera angles, which completely ruin the character’s potential. That is only the beginning of what is wrong with this film.

The one thing that the DC films have had trouble curing themselves of is not knowing when they have too much of something, such as too many subplots in BvS. What Suicide Squad suffers from is having too many characters in a script that does not have the courage or the patience to allow them to reach their full potential. Admittedly, this is a brilliantly casted ensemble, especially Robbie who nails Quinn’s balance of being irresistibly playful and disturbingly insane, but it is a poorly organized one. While Harley and Deadshot shamelessly steal the show, the rest of the Squad is thrown under the bus, either for better or worse. Even when the characters manage to provide a moment of fun, it is quickly ruined by more dumbed down dialogue and scenes of exhaustingly boring action sequences that made me forget why I was looking forward to this film in the first place.

Perhaps the most disappointing aspect of Suicide Squad is that it is easy to see how great the movie could have been. With its casting, its keenly designed aesthetic and its very intriguing concept, the filmmakers tease the audience with kindling without bothering to build a fire, leaving DC fans in the dark to ponder where this franchise will go and if they will ever see justice.

Or, they could just switch to Marvel. After all, everyone else has.

Published on Newstime and The Lincoln County Journal Friday, Aug. 5, 2016

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