Review: Suicide Squad

Amidst all the noise surrounding this film and its reception, the simplest way to describe the downfalls of the latest entry in DC’s cinematic universe (DCCU) is this:

Bloated. Unnecessary fat. Loose.

Consider this:

  • There are 11 people who have been face marketed in the film: Deadshot, Quinn, Joker, Waller, Flag, Boomerang, Diablo, Enchantress, Katana, Croc (who still looks cringe-worthy) and Slipknot. That list is four too many. Croc, Katana and Slipknot are absolutely unnecessary and contribute nothing to the film (apart from being plot devices). Boomerang borders that group too, but the fact that he provides some comic relief spares him relegation. Ultimately the Squad should’ve consisted of: Deadshot, Quinn, Flag, Boomerang and Diablo (more akin to the smaller Secret Six).
  • The Joker was marketed as a major presence in the film: he was not. Enchantress was marketed as a member-turned-menace in the Squad: she was not. Katana, Slipknot and Croc were marketed as substantial characters with substantial lines: they were not.
  • The opening act is structured: intro to Deadshot; intro to Quinn; intro to Waller; Waller re-intros Deadshot; re-intros Quinn; intros remainder of the Squad. Can you spot what’s unnecessary? Additionally, the scenes are spliced together messily, with three different songs playing in, literally, the first three minutes.
  • The first 40 mins is wasted with little to no effort made to get audiences concerned and invested in the characters (save, perhaps, Deadshot). It’s then harder to get invested in the individual members once the team assembles and all the egos are on stage. If, one hour into a two hour movie, you’re still saying: “Who cares if half the Squad dies?” — that’s a sign something’s wrong.
  • The big bad’s plan entails mass destruction and subjugation of the world (whose isn’t nowadays). Yet if you’re going that route, you’ll at least need to explain how the heck they’re going to do that (beyond “building a weapon”). This is absolutely lazy storytelling which even Man of Steel avoided better.

Suffice to say, I find Suicide Squad weaker than BvS (which at least had a pretty great first act). Beyond Will Smith and Margot Robbie pulling off cowboy and crazy respectively, Viola Davis talking about “witches, gangbangers and crocodiles” with a ‘so-what’ attitude (the highlight of the film), some nifty visual choices, and the film’s contribution to the greater DCCU — there’s nothing much else in the film that warrants a kinder review.

As for The Joker?

He barely features in the film, so it’s not like you’ll find any emotional complexity in him. From his brief appearance, however, it’s all too in your face: Leto’s slurred and salacious speech; Ayer’s decision to visually depict Joker’s derangement through coloured flashes and a distorted playback of scenes. He might’ve been served better by that derangement being translated to his actual behaviour (a lá any of the previous Joker interpretations) than nifty visual effects.

In the end, the film leaves me far more excited about the expansion of the DCCU than the film itself. And whilst that’s a pro for DC and Warner Bros., that’s a weighty kick to the guts for Suicide Squad.

RATING: 5/10 (The “I’m Fine With Anything” Choice)

WATCH IT WHEN: You’re in the mood for a stylish comicbook romp that’s not as big scale as BvS, nor as emotionally intimate as Civil War.

TL;DR: A bloated film that could’ve used some trimming, and one that, ultimately, gets me more excited about the universe it inhabits than the actual film itself.

Suicide Squad (2016) is written and directed by David Ayer, based on the titular characters from DC Comics, and distributed by Warner Bros. Pictures.

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