It feels good to be bad…Assemble a team of the world’s most dangerous, incarcerated Super Villains, provide them with the most powerful arsenal at the government’s disposal, and send them off on a mission to defeat an enigmatic, insuperable entity. U.S. intelligence officer Amanda Waller has determined only a secretly convened group of disparate, despicable individuals with next to nothing to lose will do. However, once they realize they weren’t picked to succeed but chosen for their patent culpability when they inevitably fail, will the Suicide Squad resolve to die trying, or decide it’s every man for himself?
I don’t get the ratings here. This is a cut and dry poorly made movie and fans of the DC universe deserve better. I don’t normally post my reviews here. But I have to share my take on this movie because it just wasn’t good. I didn’t even have to go into spoilers to show how terrible it is. Movie goers shouldn’t mindlessly consume these films. Christopher Nolan set a high bar, but producers and studios need to step messing with auteurs and maybe we can get a quality DC movie:
There is nothing in Suicide Squad that shows any hope that an auteur filmmaker can do anything distinctive with the current cash cow of the Hollywood machine: the super hero movie. What Christopher Nolan once made his own has devolved into a predictable pastiche whose charms should be wearing thin on audiences. It doesn’t help that the movie is also an example of how bad one of these films can be when it becomes watered down and designed to refrain from shaking up anything in the so-called DC Universe. Suicide Squad, a PG-13 film, was supposed to be DC’s entry to rival Marvel’s R-rated Deadpool. Even though Deadpool had its own problems as a self-aware action movie, it still had focus and a bravado that is nowhere to be found in Suicide Squad.
Suicide Squad follows a group of villains with super powers released from prison as part of a government plan to protect the world from terrorists or whatever sign-of-the-times fear currently plaguing society (Zika?). Starring Will Smith as the hit man Deadshot and Margot Robbie as the Joker’s manic girlfriend Harley Quinn, alongside several other less familiar DC baddies, these guys are supposed to be complex people who have long fallen from grace and are supposed to rise above to find their humanity and gain the audience’s sympathy. But writer-director David Ayer tries so hard to take a safe route, you can see the gears trying to manipulate audience emotion, revealing the inherit problems of these comic book adaptations straining to catch up with decades of printed storytelling.
You can’t totally blame Ayer, who last gave moviegoers Fury, an incredibly strong and startling war movie featuring a better fleshed out motley crew of characters. The preciousness Hollywood has for its ongoing world building of interconnected comic book films creates such tight restrictions on storytelling that anything that might upset that world has no room to prosper. At one point, toward the end of Suicide Squad, one character asks another, “Shouldn’t you be dead?” Of course not, this is the DC universe, and it’s gotta be milked. That means no major players should be written off in one movie.
The result of these storytelling restraints is a soulless kind of filmmaking hampered by pussyfooting. It’s like a syrupy glaze that drowns out any possibility to shine above what has become a predictable pattern of storytelling. Characters dole out uninspired lines that play superficially to feelings, like, “Dad, I know you do bad things, but I still love you.” Then there are the clichés, like “fight fire with fire.” Sometimes the script inadvertently deflates the tension by spelling things out. Someone over a radio says, “Use extreme caution,” and someone in the action responds, “I don’t like this.” But in case you miss that, someone else says, “I don’t like it either.” A kid playing with his action figures can come up with better chatter to establish tension….
Suicide Squad has been the long gestating DC Comics film that every single fan on the planet has been waiting for. From the controversial casting of Jared Leto as the Joker to the rumored reshoots, this is a film that has been on everyone’s minds for the past two years since it was announced. So, how does it hold up? Well, let’s start off with the great. The greatness in the film sits on many shoulders. Jared Leto as The Joker is probably the most interesting part of the film. Leto does not even try to top Ledger or Nicholson, he simply does his own thing. He’s devilishly charming but extremely psychotic. I compare him mostly to Mark Hammil’s Joker from the animated series in the 90s. It is unlike anything we’ve seen before so, for that, I give it kudos. It is pretty cool seeing this type of Joker but I will admit, I would have loved to have seen more of him. What is a good actually is a bit of a bad. Leto is in it for merely 25 minutes tops which is a bit disappointing considering his performance is absolutely mesmerizing. On to the rest of the Squad, Margot Robbie as Harley Quinn is exceptional. She delivers a performance that is straight out of Girl, Interrupted. She is extremely unpredictable on screen and it is a pure delight watching her relish in exactly what makes Harley Quinn memorable: her sultry psychotic demeanor. Will Smith as Deadshot is just Will Smith. There is no real boundary breaking performance here. He is the lead actor of the film and the film plays out like such. Not saying that Deadshot isn’t a cool, badass character but it is just Will Smith in costume. The rest of the cast including Jai Courtney, Joel Kinneman, Viola Davis, Scott Eastwood and Adam Beach, all give great performances and there isn’t one false beat. There is a true chemistry on the screen that is palpable and David Ayer deserves high praise for that. The film is good but the performances are great. There is a clear intention on building up these characters over building the film which is another good quality turned bad. The film itself is a typical comic book movie of the 21st century. It is heavy on the characters and extremely light on plot and a villain. The first twenty minutes are spent introducing these characters, not a plot, just these characters. This is cool at first but once you realize most of the important plot points are in the trailers, it becomes a bit disappointing that there isn’t a villain to rally against just anti-heroes to rally behind. By many standard traditions, this is a film very close to The Dirty Dozen or The Magnificent Seven. It is not about what is going on, it is about what is going on inside these character’s minds that really push the movie forward. It is an ensemble character piece above all else. While much of the spoilers have been spoiled long ago, there are still a couple things that will bring smiles to fan’s faces. So, overall… Does it break new ground? No. Is it badass? Yes. Is it fun? Absolutely. Should you see it? Without a doubt.
Suicide Squad is definitely going to put some nerves at ease since Batman V Superman. But DC has a long way to go in terms of churning out undeniably great comic book films outside of The Dark Knight trilogy and Suicide Squad is most certainly a great start.
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