For the second time this year, DC Comics and Warner Brothers have put out a movie in their attempt to catch up with the giant that the Marvel Cinematic Universe has become. Their first attempt this year came just before the summer season in the form of Batman V. Superman, which was a pretty crappy film overall (you can read my take on it here). To me, Suicide Squad was a chance at redemption for DC. From what I had heard, the Suicide Squad graphic novel and comic books represented a fresh take on some lesser-known DC comic villains in more realistic, CIA-esque story. I was very interested in how this film would turn out, though I can’t say that I was particularly excited to see it due to how much of a failure their previous film had been.
A few weeks ago, I introduced my review of Ghostbusters by talking about the importance and impact a well made trailer has on a film. I said that trailers tend to give viewers a glimpse into the overall quality of a film and draw out your desire to want to see more. The trailer for Suicide Squad did exactly that for me. It showed me a dark and realistic movie that spotlighted a good number of some lesser known DC Comic villains and a very promising cast. Well, now it’s time to talk about the flip side of the trailer argument; which is when a production company pours a huge amount of money into its marketing campaign because they know they’ve produced a pretty shitty movie but still need a ton of people to come see it so they can make their money back. Warner Borthers produced a total of 4 official trailers for Suicide Squad, all of which seemed to highlight different aspects of the film, which should have been the first red flag for me.
The second red flag came when I heard about the re-shoots and conflicts between Warner Borthers and David Ayer. Ayer isn’t one of my favorite directors, but he is definitely one that has shown potential in the past few years, especially in films that he wrote. His last film, Fury, was one that I considered a very underrated film in 2014. Sabotage starred the Governator and Johnny Knoxville… so it was less impressive. But, Ayer wrote and directed End of Watch and wrote Training Day, both of which received heavy critical acclaim. Historically, when producers and Directors/Writers run into conflict enough that it actually makes news, it usually means trouble for the final product (Sidenote: this is currently happening with Star Wars: Rogue One). In the next few coming weeks, it would not surprise me in the least to hear that Ayer blames the producers for the overwhelmingly negative response this film has been receiving from critics.
So, if you’ve been excited for Suicide Squad and have been keeping up with the reviews (it currently sits at a whopping 26% on Rotten Tomatoes), then you’re probably pretty worried that DC’s “redemption film” does less redeeming and more to dig the DC film franchise into an even deeper hole.
With that, let’s jump into the meat of this review:
Suicide Squad tries to accomplish way too much, and in doing so, fails to really accomplish anything at all. One of my initial fears for this movie was its enormous cast. As has become common with this trend of “team-hero” movies, only a few characters are focused on and really developed while the rest are… just kinda there. This issue is heavily present in this film, because only 2 and a half out of the 9 members of the Squad are actually given backstories and time for character development. The rest of the Sqaud members are there for one-liners and battle fodder.
For a story that should have stayed focused on the uniqueness of its characters, Suicide Squad goes way off track to give us one of the most cliched story lines of all time. I don’t like to repeat what other reviewers have said before me, but it really does seem like we can’t have anymore big blockbuster movies that don’t feature some kind of potentially world ending event happening in the middle of a large city with tons of flashing lights and plenty of destruction-porn for all the debris and rubble fetishists. Guys, we did not want to see this again. Not only did we not want to see it, it simply doesn’t make sense that it was even approved. Why the hell would we send in a criminally insane gymnast/psychologist, a half-man half-crocodile that can swim really well and eat raw meat, a girl with a samurai sword, and a guy that can throw boomerangs really well to stop a sorceress with abilities beyond their comprehension??
Speaking of this sorceress, this summer flick gives us yet another cliched and uninteresting villain for our team of “heroes” to defeat. Not only does she have a totally unoriginal motivation (she’s mad because humanity no longer worships her, *cough* X-Men Apocalypse *cough*), but she has some of the lamest and cringe inducing dialogue I’ve ever heard.
In fact, a majority of the dialogue is pretty sub-par. We all got a taste of it in the trailer when Will Smith, to my horror, actually said, “What are we? Some kinda, Suicide Squad?” Oh god, I throw up a little in my mouth every time I even think about it. This was not the only instance of 7th grade level writing, unfortunately. This movie has more exposition than an entire season of Days of our Lives, more expendable characters than the original Star Trek series, and more ham-fisted illogical explanations than a congregation of the Flat Earth Society.
I have more to say about the writing of this film, but I’m going to stop here for the sake of time and to avoid spoilers. Also, I want to give Ayer the benefit of the doubt and blame most of this garbage script on executive micro-management.
You’ve probably heard it by now (or probably even expected it), but Will Smith and Margot Robbie are really the only decent things about this movie. Jared Leto did not really have enough to do for me to make a confident judgement on his performance as the Joker, though I will say that it seemed to be an odd combination of all the things people like about Jack Nicholson, Mark Hamill, and Heath Ledger.
Viola Davis was probably my favorite performance in the film, but some of her dialogue and story-arc is the worst out of the main characters.
Everyone else in the cast is not given anything of substance, despite what the marketing team would have you believe. On top of that, most of them are simply mediocre or worse.
I feel like I’m beating a dead horse at this point, but if you don’t mind actors pretending to fight faceless CGI villains constantly, or CGI bullshit constantly filling up the screen, then maybe you won’t have as much of a problem with this film. There are definitely films that have come out this year that committed more sins in the CGI department than this one though.
That being said, the editing for this film is absolutely atrocious. I’m talking almost on par with Tarzan, which is my worst rated film of the year so far. Sometimes, it looks as though entire scenes have been cut out of the film or spliced in. Characters will suddenly appear in shots that they did not exist in ten seconds prior, sometimes large periods of time seem to be skipped when its not necessary, and the number of cuts when there is nothing really happening on screen is pretty sickening.
Some people are going to come away saying that the music was the best part of this film; which is fine with me, but the music choices particularly bothered me. To me, it seemed as if someone went through a list of the most used songs in film history, and tried to find a place to put in every single song on that list. You might think I’m exaggerating, but when you’ve heard CCR’s “Fortunate Son,” Norman Greenbaum’s “Spirit in the Sky,” and The Rolling Stones’ “Sympathy for the Devil” all within the first 20 minutes, you might reconsider. The list goes on and on, and I would not be surprised if a lot of viewers are able to recognize every single song featured in the film. This is audience pandering, nothing more, nothing less. There was no rhyme or reason for the filmmakers to force these songs into the film.
X-Factor: 3/10, Slipknot got too much screen time
Slipknot (not the band),a member of the Squad portrayed by Adam Beach, is in the film for a grand total of 20 seconds.
So, by some miracle, Man of Steel is still the best movie that DC has been able to put out in this series. I know that many of you think that I am overly-critical of summer films, but I have a hard time saying that people who thoroughly enjoyed Batman V. Superman and every single Marvel film will like this film too. This movie has 3 minutes of Jared Leto, 2 minutes of Ben Affleck, 8 minutes of fight sequences and 90 minutes of walking/talking. The only reason I would recommend spending money to see this in theaters is if you love comic book movies and can’t wait for the next installment to come out to be caught up on the series.
Oh! And in case you were wondering, yes, that is my beautiful artwork gracing the top of this page.