I’m not sure when it lost its way really. Some say that Suicide Squad, the new super villain from Warner Brothers’ DC Comics, is a fantastically awful movie. I haven’t read reviews as bad as this film is getting since Saturday Night Live decided to go rotating out its cast members and Tina Fey disappeared.
I know only a few things for certain with Suicide Squad. The reviews you and I have read aren’t wrong. They aren’t entirely right though. DC Comics, having bungled both Man of Steel and Batman vs. Superman, needed a critical or box office win. Suicide Squad suffers from some huge, systematic problems.
Suicide Squads jokes are funny though. It’s take on now classic characters is certainly original. The action scenes aren’t incoherent. Almost all the cast delivers.
Suicide Squad opens with Amanda Waller giving movie goers and her on-screen colleagues a breakdown on what she’s been working on. In the wake of Superman, Waller wants to have a backup plan for when the next meta-human attack happens. Yep, that’s what we’re calling folks with fantastic abilities, meta-humans. The scene is the only anchor point for the entire film. Waller is a certified bad-ass that you don’t want to cross. She’s been working undercover to round-up some of the world’s most dangerous criminals and put them to work saving the world. Plot established.
Through coercion and some well-placed explosives, Waller wants the criminals she has a death grip on, to work in the national interest. They go on missions and get the job done, she slashes some years off their sentences and doesn’t end their lives.
Amanda Waller, certified bad ass.
I thought I’d seen the biggest cast ever with Marvel’s Captain America: Winter Solider, but I was wrong. Will Smith is Deadshot, the ruthless assassin for hire. Margot Robbie does a spectacular job as the Clown Prince of Crime’s girlfriend, the psychotic Harley Quinn. Jai Courtney is Captain Bomerang, Jay Hernandez is El Diablo, Cara Delevingne is Enchantress and Joel Kinnaman is Colonel Rick Flag. Each of the characters play off each other, with chemistry that’s fun to watch. You want to hear what’ll come out of Deadshot’s mouth next. Leading the entire organization is Viola Davis’ Amanda Waller.
Waller may be the most questionable of them all. Waller, known for planning and scheming already, won’t stop until she gets what she wants. You feel the arrogance that working for the government has lent her. You worry about how far she’ll go to get what she wants. Nothing is sacred; and she will kill any damn thing walking.
The Suicide Squad’s first mission is to clean up a mess caused by Waller herself. Suicide Squad is a movie with battles – save for the final one – are coherent and feel earned. That being said, the film is more of a buddy drama. Serious moments of mortal danger are interspersed between banter. Will Smith is a stand in for the average movie goer; only he cracks some pretty lethal jokes all the way through. Through him you feel how outlandish this whole situation is. He’s also one of the characters sent to remind you that criminals are people too. He delivers the message well. That’s one thing going for Suicide Squad; the characters and banter work well.
Suicide Squad’s plot gets lost.
What’s caused the horrible reviews Suicide Squad is getting are some pretty big screw-ups. The movie’s plot gets lost.
There are the moments when Suicide Squad does decide to take itself seriously for an entire scene. Toward the end of the film, the writers nail the balance between character growth and plain-old comedy handedly. The writers fail when they attempt the same thing with Quinn and Jared Leto’s Joker scenes. The scenes should make us think long and hard about the dynamics of our own relationships. We see Quinn’s transformation on screen. We get hints of the turmoil held at bay by her sheet-white skin and smile.
These scenes feel out of place. There’s a time and place for a serious examination of Quinn and Joker, but it surely wasn’t in this already long film that waffles between beating you over the head with a message, giving fans their due and having the tone of an NBC sit-com. Only after seeing Dark Knight three times did I physically feel how long that film ran. Suicide Squad’s waffling, pacing and micro-narrative have you feeling its length during your first viewing.
Bruh, Jared Leto though…
Also, the film’s costumes are absolutely terrible. Jared Leto’s Joker probably mentally broke only after he saw what he was set to wear in this film. Ask a three-year-old to dress up like a thug and his attire is what you get. Enchantress wobbles and dances on-screen like they filmed in the middle of a ghostly samba practice. She too, looks utterly ridiculous. Honestly, I think the character design borders on distraction in some scenes. Enough with Harley’s hot pants, seriously.
Leto’s portrayal of the Clown Prince of Crime is just as bad the film’s look. For years, comic book movie lovers have demanded actors that take parts in these movies more seriously, despite all the spandex and special effects. Leto’s Joker is proof you can take a role in a summer blockbuster way too seriously. He shakes violently and draws out every syllable.
Leto’s Joker is proof you can take a role in a summer superhero film way too seriously.
I don’t regret seeing Suicide Squad though. This isn’t the worst movie to ever get a release. In fact, this isn’t the worst super hero movie I’ve ever watched. Haters of this film have a point. The story goes from average to bad. The pacing is horrendous.
But, who cares? Context is key here. You don’t watch Suicide Squad because Shakespeare in the Park was sold out. Suicide Squad had to be funny and it had to get people familiar with characters they haven’t seen before, but will want to watch in future DC Comics films. It does both handedly. Give me another Suicide Squad film with Smith, Davis, Robbie and Kinnaman next summer and I’ll watch. Just make sure you get in a few more edits on that film.
Go and see Suicide Squad. You’ll laugh at the jokes. You’ll cackle at Jared Leto’s Joker and cool down in the air conditioning. The film is available for pre-order in iTunes, Microsoft Movies & TV and Amazon. I can think of worse ways to spend a Saturday.