Suicide Squad Review: Bad isn’t Good.
Suicide Squad is the latest film in the newly established DC Cinematic Universe. It is a film about a bunch of bad guys with super powers that get recruited by government official Amanda Waller (Viola Davis) to create Task Force-X a.k.a. Suicide Squad. This task force is created as a prevision to save Gotham if a metahuman ever attacks the city. Task Force X members include Deadshot (Will Smith), Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie), Killer Croc (Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje), Boomerang (Jai Courtney), Diablo (Jay Hernandez), Katana (Karen Fukuhara) and Rick Flag (Joel Kinnaman). Flag is really a good guy but is recruited to be the leader of this ragtag gang of misfits. Soon after the team is assembled, they are ordered by Amanda to stop Enchantress (Cara Delevingne) from destroying Gotham.
I feel like I need to begin this review by stating that I am somewhat shocked by what I am going to be saying in this review. As someone who grew up loving superhero tv shows, films, comic books, action figures and hell, even collectors cards, I was excited yet nervous when I first saw the marketing for Suicide Squad. I wasn’t sure about this whole modernization of the Joker nor how the studio decided to turn Harley Quinn into this tattooed white trash girl with booty shorts. But, regardless of my initial impressions, I went into the film hoping for the best as I do love bad guys and love the premise of the Suicide Squad story.
I am a fan of both Marvel and DC but feel that both brands have had their fair share of ups and downs when it comes to film. With that being said, I will happily go on record and admit that I enjoyed Batman V. Superman: Dawn of Justice more than Captain America: Civil War. Unfortunately, Suicide Squad is a complete and utter mess. It is such a mess that I find it almost impossible to collect all my thoughts about it in order to write a cohesive review that truly embraces how disappointed I am with the film.
Suicide Squad opens strong with a quick introduction to Deadshot. This opening is really strong because in such a small amount of time, audiences get a good understanding to who Deadshot is as well as a small glimpse at his troubled relationship with his daughter. As someone who always looks for depth and emotion in a big budget franchise, I was very happy to see this occur so early on. Smith’s portrayal of Deadshot instantly showcased that this guy is a badass but also showed that he had a sensitive side. I immediately felt that father/daughter connection, which in return lead me to believe that the film was off to a great start.
The follow up scene is an introduction to Harley Quinn which also happens to feature the Joker. This scene felt incredibly rushed, giving very little backstory on Harley Quinn but instead tried to convey how Quinn and Joker are very much in love. This scene was complete fan service. Die hard fans will be happy to see that Ayer managed to recreate the famous Joker and Harley Quinn image that can be found on the cover Batman: Harley Quinn #1 within this 3-5 minute scene. The problem, however, is that we never get any real depth to these characters so its hard to like them; let alone root for them.
The next scene introduces Amanda Waller as she is sitting down with various government officials to pitch her idea for Task Force X. I am only pointing this scene out because for some unknown reason, Ayer thought that Deadshot and Harley Quinn needed to be introduced again. Waller introduces all the proposed members in a unique and creative way. There is a different song for each character and they have a very quick intro that gets the ball rolling. Within only 15 minutes, the audience has gotten Quinn and Deadshot explained to them twice yet somehow all the other characters are introduced even faster and get little to no backstory throughout the rest of the film. The only character that kind of gets some backstory is Diablo but that happens much later in the film. His character has this huge reveal about his wife and kids yet it lacked an emotional punch. I would even argue that Diablo becomes even more unlikable after this reveal making it even harder for the audience to give two shits about his character.
Almost every character with the exception of Deadshot is underused and underdeveloped. I would even go as far to say that while Harley Quinn gets a lot of screen-time, I really don’t feel like I know anything about her character after seeing the film other than she’s crazy and she likes the Joker. I felt like this film should have been broken into multiple films so that audiences would be able to get to know each of the characters a little bit better. I don’t care how big of a comic book fan you are, when you make a film, characters need backstory and audiences need a reason to care about the characters outside of the obvious, “oh, look its the Joker” or “oh, look its Harley Quinn.” I am not saying that I need to be spoon-fed every damn detail of what has happened in their past but at least give me something to go on.
What is so frustrating about the lack of character background is that I was able to sympathize and understand Deadshot in just five minutes, yet none of the other characters were handled in the same way. It was like Deadshot and Quinn were the leads and everyone else were just their shadows lurking in the background. Needless to say, I think Will Smith is the star of the film and is one of the only characters worth rooting for. He is truly great as Deadshot and his character has a lot of emotional weight to it. I like that even though he’s a guy who can shoot multiple people in the head, he also has a soft spot for his daughter and only wants the best for her. He really embraces this character even though I think he should have worn the Deadshot mask a lot more than he did. I must also comment on Viola Davis’ performance as Amanda Waller. I thought Viola killed it and I loved how dark and relentless her character was. At one point, I was thinking to myself, “could we just get a film about her character instead of these other characters.” She is so great in this film but than again, its Viola Davis: when doesn’t she kill it?
Please don’t even get me started on the “villains” in the film. Delevingne’s Enchantress is a laughably bad villain. For most of the film, she looks like she is doing some sort of yoga or hula dancing while attempting to come off as menacing. The performance isn’t good either. It feels so phoned in and is infused with so much CGI. There is also a brother character to Enchantress who is a CGI blob. There is a battle sequence near the end between the brother and Diablo which looked like a CGI color orgy rather than two beings fighting. The ending of the film is so anti-climatic and underwhelming as well. I won’t go into great detail but it involves Quinn and Katana’s sword.
The entire concept of making Harley Quinn and The Joker into these punk like gang bangers was just an awful decision. I felt like Leto and Robbie didn’t have any idea what the hell they were doing. It felt as though I was watching two white trash junkies from Pennsylvania attempt to act while wearing white makeup. Robbie’s accent was all over the damn place. At one point, I felt like she was from Brooklyn, other times I felt like she was trying to do a Scarlett Johansson impression, and oddly enough in certain spots, I actual heard her native Australian accent. And while I would normally say that “oh, its because the character is crazy,” I am not giving the performance the benefit of the doubt because I truly believe it was just poorly executed and handled by both Robbie and Ayer.
I don’t know what Leto was trying to do with the Joker but I can honestly say that it didn’t work. I think the five minute scene of fan service early on really got people excited but the lack of explanation and screen-time for this incarnation of the Joker was a complete failure. The only thing Leto got right was the laugh. Everything else felt as though you were watching a guy who was drugged out of his mind. I can tell Leto went all “method” for this role but wow, was it unbearably bad. His accent felt like he was trying to do a impression of James Cagney meets Marlon Brando. What makes the Joker even worst is that he was just thrown into the film whenever they needed to segue from one scene to the next or whenever Ayer decided to have Quinn have a flashback or dream sequence.
Even though Michael Bay has nothing to do with this project, it feels like Suicide Squad was highly inspired by Michael Bay. There is so much fast editing and music that I got a headache while watching it. The entire film feels like one long music video that just won’t end. Whenever a pop or rap song ends, some sort of score begins immediately afterwards. Its like the film never knows how to be quiet even for just a moment or two. I wanted to scream out “queue the music” at one point in the film because it was so blatantly obvious that a song was going to kick in. Let’s not forget to mention that Harley Quinn feels overly sexualized as if she was a character in Transformers. I lost count of how many pointless close-up ass shots there were. Its funny because the film showcases such a strong black female with Viola yet at the very same time creates this over-sexualize Harley Quinn for absolutely no reason. Harley Quinn is such an AWESOME character and this film doesn’t do the character any justice whatsoever.
The pacing is all over the place and the film jumps around constantly. I hate that there were multiple scenes where the story was being explained to the audience multiple times yet some of it still didn’t make any sense at all. I don’t understand why the dialogue was so horrendous and why most of the characters only go these weird one-liners that seemed to fall completely flat. Ayer is such a great director when he wants to be but this is one of his weaker films. He really knows how to shoot action scenes and even with a PG-13 rating, there are some great action moments when they aren’t overloaded with CGI. The film is so disjointed and all over the place that its hard to say who is at fault but most of the problems I do believe occur due to Ayer since he not only directed but wrote the screenplay.
I watch over 250 films each year. I go into almost every film with an open mind hoping to like it or finding redeeming qualities in it. I wanted to love Suicide Squad, I really did but it let me down big time. There is no doubt that there are some redeemable elements such as Smith and Davis but outside of those two actors and some minor concepts that never go anywhere, there isn’t a lot of other positive things to say about this film. Suicide Squad is without a doubt one of my biggest disappointments of 2016 and I am shocked that even after the mediocre X-Men: Apocalypse, this is the worst superhero (anti-hero?) film of the year. My spirit is not crushed, however, because unlike many, I believe in DC and strongly believe Wonder Woman, The Batman, and Aquaman are all going to be kick seriously amounts of ass. This is DC’s Iron Man 2. Everyone is allowed to mess up but I just wish it wasn’t with a film that had so much potential.
Scott “Movie Man” Menzel’s final rating for Suicide Squad is a 4 out of 10.