Suicide Squad Review: Bad Guys, Bad Movie
First thing’s first: if you’re expecting this review to destroy this movie, you won’t find that here. If you’re expecting this review to say “the critics have no idea what they’re talking about! This movie is perfect! Screw Rotten Tomatoes!” You won’t find that here, either.
Suicide Squad is my worst nightmare. Director David Ayer’s foray into the DCEU is one of those films that are between disastrous and kind of enjoyable in my eyes. The editing is awful, a majority of characters are underwritten and under-acted, the pacing is atrocious, and the Joker looks like someone that took shopping at Hot Topic too seriously. However, this movie made me more interested in the DC film universe than I’ve ever been, Deadshot (played by Will Smith), Harley Quinn (played by Margot Robbie), and Amanda Waller (played by Viola Davis) are the most believable characters in the DCEU, the humor throughout the film lands for me, and I really want to see a Suicide Squad sequel.
See? Worst nightmare.
If you aren’t familiar with Suicide Squad, the team is made up of Deadshot, Harley Quinn, Boomerang (played by Jai Courtney), Killer Croc (played by Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje), Katana (played by Karen Fukuhara), and Diablo (played by Jay Hernandez) who are led by the special forces soldier known as Rick Flag (played by Joel Kinnamen) and their handler, Amanda Waller.
The plot is very straightforward. One of the agents, Enchantress, goes rogue and starts destroying a city with another villain who is never named (or if he’s named, it isn’t memorable). The Suicide Squad is assembled and they go in to save the city. Now, with a character-based film, this plot should work but the character stuff doesn’t work for the most part. Character motivations change in a way that makes no sense, some characters are shown more love than others, the dialogue is mostly awful, and some of the directing/acting resembles a school play. One thing that I consider odd is that the characters consider each other family even though they’ve been together for a few hours on their first mission. Also, I could tell that there were reshoots and a battle over cuts because characters do things that may have been established in others scenes that don’t exist in this movie’s current state. I want to see a director’s cut for this movie more than I do for Batman v. Superman because this movie needs to be longer. There needs to be more scenes with Boomerang and Katana, there needs to be more scenes in which there’s character development for all of the Suicide Squad, and the audience deserves more Joker because I’m certain that I don’t like Jared Leto’s portrayal as of right now.
The Joker is only on screen for what feels like 7 minutes. And those 7 minutes show a Hot Topic-discount-psychopathic gangster that abuses Harley Quinn and kills people because he’s crazy! Get it? His plot interferes with the Suicide Squad’s and I’m not even sure why he’s in the movie in the first place. He has a tattoo that says “Damaged” on his forehead and that’s how I know that the people making this movie were trying too hard. Also, there’s a scene where he’s laying down, surrounded by what I’m assuming is Martha Stewart’s kitchen knife collection, that I couldn’t help but laugh at because the imagery looks really stupid.
He’s mainly there to be Harley’s character motivation because I guess she likes being abused by someone with electroshock therapy. Actually, the way in which women are treated in this movie is less than good. Harley Quinn is portrayed as someone who can kick ass by herself and that’s great but she’s in a relationship in which she enjoys being abused by the Joker because she’s supposed to be insane, I guess. A character hits a woman because she has a “big mouth” and I’m pretty sure that scene would have been the same if it was a dude getting hit but it still felt weird to me. Enchantress has taken over Rick Flag’s love interest and we have our damsel in distress. I’m very hard to offend and yet, some of these things made me feel gross. I’m thinking of the little girls that enjoy Harley Quinn’s character and them getting the idea that the things the Joker does to her is okay. That leaves me somewhat concerned.
Note: Suicide Squad is not for kids. However, I can see parents seeing the PG-13 rating and thinking it’s a green light to take their kids because it’s a “superhero movie.” The film has very dark undertones along with the aforementioned Joker-Harley Quinn relationship. I think this film is neutered by its rating and someone at WB must’ve known that this film wouldn’t be for kids anyway, so the PG-13 rating makes no sense to me. Also, the movie is called “Suicide Squad.” Who would believe that this is a movie for kids?
Now, I did say that I like some of this movie. The first half is still flawed but I enjoyed the introductions to each of the squad members. I think Will Smith playing Deadshot is a good choice because he and Margot Robbie’s Harley Quinn are my favorite characters in the DCEU. Deadshot’s dark sense of humor and most of his character-arc left me happy, Harley Quinn is a badass femme fatale that has a fun sense of chaos and anarchy, and Amanda Waller can probably kill someone just by looking at them. They steal the show while everyone else stays on the sideline. Killer Croc has some good moments and Diablo’s story had me mostly invested. The humor had me actually laughing throughout which is more than I can say for they ironic laughter I had for both of the Superman movies. Also, I thought the action scenes were inoffensive.
I felt more for these malcontents than I did for Batman and Superman. I wanted to see Deadshot with his daughter, I wanted to see Diablo redeem himself for his past crimes, and I wanted to see Boomerang stop being completely useless (which doesn’t happen). This movie has the shell of an amazing character study like The Killing Joke but it just becomes a collection of one-liners.
I can imagine a better sequel for Suicide Squad. That’s probably why I’m not calling it a dumpster fire. However, that doesn’t make up for the sins of the first one. For every amazing half-step, there are two missteps. For every Deadshot, there’s a Hot Topic Joker. For every time Harley does something rad, there’s that reminder that the film mostly sees her as a sex object.
There’s an incredible movie in Suicide Squad, it was just slaughtered while the “Rains of Castamere” played in the background. It was repeatedly stabbed in slow motion by studio execs, multiple editors, and fan expectations. There are plot-hole stab wounds and it feels like the post-production crew played heads or tails in order to decide what they had to cut.
Suicide Squad is the best film in the DCEU. It’s not that the bar was set high or that this movie sets a high bar but unlike Man of Steel and Batman v. Superman, I can see a glimmer of hope for this extended universe. This ostensibly discount Guardians of the Galaxy made me want to see the new Wonder Woman and maybe even the new Justice League movie but I’m not sure if Warner Bros. will learn from this movie. You’re better off renting Suicide Squad when it eventually comes out for streaming and Blu-Ray. This movie makes me sad. I think I’ll stick to the new Rebirth comics because that Suicide Squad looks very promising.