Third Time’s a Charm?
A Film Review of Suicide Squad
At first glance, the idea of Suicide Squad seems like an odd move for DC to expand upon its cinematic universe. Introducing a collection of marquee villains before formally unveiling the Justice League (which would otherwise be handling these kinds of troublemakers) could easily throw audiences off regarding who they are supposed to be rooting for. I like giving the bad guys a genuine moment to shine because for the most part, recent superhero films have not produced quality villains and those efforts have harmed those productions. Of course, Task Force X aren’t exactly the antagonists in this film so we don’t exactly see any of them unleash the beast proper, but if any of them were to be pitted against heroes in a more standard conflict, they should deliver the kind of resistance audiences have been demanding.
Suicide Squad is a very mixed bag when it comes to cinematic adventures. The plot has a decent hook, but then completely trails off into blandness. Everyone in the cast produces solid performances, but only two are permitted to round their characters out. The visual effects are good, but nowhere near to matching the spectacle that preceded it in Batman Vs. Superman. When was the last time you heard poor editing sandbagging a finished production? Believe everything you’ve heard about that issue because far too many lines get cut off during this production, and it boggles the mind why so much footage is arbitrarily removed for no other reason than shaving a handful of minutes off the total runtime. Factoring in all the rumors of constant studio interference, added pressure pushed on director David Ayer for making this production redeem BvS, and an extremely abbreviated pre-production time frame, begins to explain why all these issues existed in the first place.
This production is the furthest thing from flawless, but I cannot be brought to throw this film completely under the bus as the vast majority of the critical community has. Its saving grace is the cast itself, the real world chemistry they demonstrated as a collective doing promo work at Good Morning America, and it all paid off dividends in their performances in the final cut of this film. The chemistry begins with Will Smith who found a way to reconnect with his pre-After Earth blockbuster charisma by demonstrating leadership as a character, but also allowing his fellow cast mates (not just Margot Robbie) to play back his energy with their own in genuine synergy. It brought about incredible surprises such as Jai Courtney who has been on everyone’s list of worst actors in Hollywood for years, but somehow found a way to have fun with this role and actually communicate it to the camera. It’s capped by Viola Davis whose Amanda Waller is every bit as cold and calculating as any of these “super villains,” but also demonstrates the same enthusiasm as her younger costars, approaching this role as seriously as any other.
There’s an awful lot of gunplay in this film which is fine seeing how most characters are not “meta-humans” and machine guns can be great equalizers in any situation. Katana demonstrates a decent amount of martial arts, but we’ve seen better sword play. It also would have been nice to see more acrobatics from Harley Quinn.
David Ayer maintains a fairly animated frame when dynamic combat sequences call for it. There are also a couple of neat moments when the frame literally jumps into the action which certainly intensifies the energy of the scene.
Excellent job by Will Smith as the hitman with a human side. Decent job by Margot Robbie who presents a fun version of Harley Quinn minus that New Yorky accent. Viola Davis is simply inspiring as Amanda Waller.
Jai Courtney + /Jay Hernandez + /Karen Fukuhara - /Joel Kinnaman’s Rick Flag gave me flashbacks to Man of Steel’s General Zod. I also thought whatever romantic chemistry that was supposed to be between him and Cara Delevingne was gag inducing, but that’s ok because her Enchantress was equally bleh.
Ayer must have gotten pro tips from Zack Snyder about using really good pop music to artificially enhance your scenes. Some of the choices worked while others raised an eyebrow. Here’s a pro tip: don’t listen to Zack Snyder.
Decent enough, especially for those really into rapid gunfire.
“Moving” = 22/33
Diablo shows off some of the best fire manipulation effects you’ve seen in blockbusters in perhaps forever. The rest of the CGI is heavy on the back end which shows off the big bad and another generic looking world ending event.
Great work here with stunts, explosions and ballistics.
Some were totally on point (Deadshot, Enchantress, Soldiers), some were a tad minimalist (Diablo, Boomerang) and others were just curious (Joker and Harley Quinn).
Hair & Makeup
All about Killer Croc here and his body makeup was absolutely exquisite not to mention Diablo’s ornate tattoos.
Most of this film is taking place in some form of implied exterior, but because it’s all happening at night, it looks like they picked up principal photography whenever the new Ghostbusters production finished shooting their urban combat sequences.
Respectable. Some scenes have some exceptional set design going on, but most get by on the minimum.
“Picture” = 21/33
I like how the US government is thinking about finding some way to counter Superman going rogue, but would any of “these” people be able to do anything to stop him?
Bad guys get manipulated by bad guys and are betrayed by bad guys.
Crisis is averted, but it remains to be seen if Task Force X is actually a thing anymore seeing this film’s dénouement.
Truly, moments of greatness were brought forth in the dialogue. Unfortunately, because of the aforementioned editing problems, several lines feel awkwardly cut, brief and done a complete disservice.
The first act of this film is all exposition, and it is more entertaining than the remaining 2/3 of the rest.
I absolutely loved the humanity behind a monster like Deadshot. I truly felt for Diablo’s tragedy. I am going to have some difficulty adjusting to this new relationship between Joker and Harley. Boomerang is copying a bit from Deadpool.
Deadshot is probably the only person the audience could (and should) connect with. Every other character is fishing with pure charisma.
“Story” = 20/34
Overall MPS Rating: 63/100
If you are looking for the redemption of BvS, this isn’t the movie you’re looking for. If you are looking for a “superhero” flick that doesn’t take itself too seriously, you’re getting warmer. I’m not going to call out every other review outlet and label them as just plain wrong about trashing Suicide Squad, but I just didn’t think it was that bad. I wouldn’t credit this film as being something to aspire to, but rather, a promising place to improve from because a bit more planning and time and less studio BS can go a long way for any film production. It remains to be seen if this is worthy of its own franchise, but it would truly be a crime to never see any of these villains again in any capacity as DC’s cinematic universe continues to expand.
Regarding Jared Leto’s Joker: He certainly went out of his way to be as different from Nicholson and Ledger as humanly possible. I appreciate his antics to “get into” the character along the lines of Ledger’s devotion. Unfortunately, his efforts paid off minimally as he’s more of a plot device for Harley either explaining where she’s at or where she’s going. I can understand Leto being upset at all his scenes that were cut, but he should forward his complaints to WB’s executives and the teaser cutting company they hired for the final edit of this film that got released to the public. Either way, I appreciated Leto’s performance much more than I do the visual design for his character. The tats, the grill, the bling and the hairdo simply won’t do for me. Now, if he were being cast as a mutant Joker for the Batman Beyond adaptation …