Short version: In my opinion, and only my opinion, Suicide Squad is a choppy mess that has a ton of potential which was wasted. The end result was a fairly paint-by-numbers comic film full of A-list talent which garnered a C/C- from me. It was on par, overall quality and story-wise, with Green Lantern or Ben Affleck’s Daredevil. It was simply “OK”.
Longer Version: A lot of critics are being very harsh on Suicide Squad. IGN.com gave it a 5.9/10, the average score on Metacritic is 40% and Rotten Tomatoes has it sitting at a 26%. But, the user reviews have the movie sitting at a 72%. Once again we have a Critics vs. Fans stand off where the online snooty critics take umbrage with a summer flick because of...I don’t know, failed dreams of being a screen writer, coupled with their useless Film Studies Degree reasons.
Anyway, with that rationale and those numbers in mind, a buddy and I went and saw Suicide Squad with the mindset of: I just want to be entertained.
Damn it...the critics were right. (point to you, Film Studies sporting online professional assholes).
Look, I won’t spoil anything, because honestly, there is nothing to spoil. The movie is highly formulaic, highly predictable and HIGHLY edited. The result was a tonally inconsistent flick which made me think when they did the reshoots, they had a couple versions of the movie and edited it into this summer’s biggest letdown (come on, did you really think Independence Day 2 was going to be good?).
The first 20-30 minutes are really, really good. We get neat back stories, fun introductions, that trendy thing when a movie shows you someone, freeze frames, graphic designs pop up, and text scrawls on the screen giving them a bio. Just goofy fun. It felt tied to the DC cinematic universe as a whole, good cameos by Justice League members and Will Smith being Will Smith (take that as you want it based on your personal Big Will Threshold). You get his humor, style and of course come the end of the movie, the obligatory “Will Smith screaming in slow-motion during a dramatic moment” thing.
After the intro’s and the 20-30 minutes of cool, we get into the main plot in a very poor, very edited, very time hopping way (seriously, Rick Flagg goes from having a trendy modern haircut to a military cut from one scene to the next) which takes these characters (who have never met before) and throw them into THE END OF THE WORLD SAVING scenario over the course of about 6-12 hours of in continuity time. The setting is average, the villain’s henchmen are CGI blob-men and the action is at best OK. And, we get Karen Fukuhara as the samurai sword wielding Katana halfway through the movie to watch Flagg’s back because of...reasons?
And to cap it off, the reluctant team has no training montage, no real skills highlighting moments, and no team unity. They are grabbed, thrown together in seconds, and sent to the center of the abandoned city to get to the modern day classic “blue laser/portal in the sky” doomsday situation, which has permeated a lot of modern comic movies. Note: I knock the movie for doing this. It seems unfair, since so many other films have done it, but DC needed a win with this flick and instead they swung and missed.
But, what about Harley Quinn and Joker? Which is, let’s be honest, why people go to see this movie and why, at least in my opinion, people are giving the movie a pass/good reviews. People love Harley. She is, in many minds, bullet proof as a character, despite being a comic book poster child of domestic abuse: http://www.mkgibson.com/blogs-and-other-ramblings/2016/5/16/the-killing-pork-or-praising-domestic-abuse
Let me be honest. She was both good, and bad. Margo Robbie did a great job being Harley. That being said, she did nothing to be a character. She was more of a caricature of the beloved Ms. Quinn. She affected the speech pattern, said “puddin’” a bunch and had her bat, mallet and general psycho goofiness. But, she never made it her own. So, the result was, like I said, a caricature rather than a characterization. As well, Harley was HIGHLY sexualized. Most scenes she is in are shot and framed in ways to make her sexuality first and foremost. When she is in a scene, you can practicality hear the director off screen screaming “Sluttier! Good, now bend over, highlight those booty shorts! Yes, YES! Now, lapdance! Now, lick that prison bar in a suggesting manner!”
And as for Joker...he was OK. Not in the movie as much as the trailer leads you to believe. He is now a mob boss, complete with his own club and suit wearing minions. Jared Leto’s take on Joker is reminiscent of a James Cagney gangster with a passion for the crazy. As well, the film removes Joker’s abusive relationship with Harley. Instead, we get a devoted and obsessed Joker who will stop at nothing to get her back. I see why the writers removed his abuse from the canonical lore, but replacing it with sheer love-stricken obsession wasn’t in-line with Joker.
The rest of the squad is barely there. Most of them are overlooked or ignored, forced into the background while the main characters do the heavy lifting. There is one exception, and that is Jay Hernandez as Diablo, who is the most well rounded and interesting character on the Suicide Squad.
But, the movie’s real highlight is Viola Davis as Amanda Waller, DC’s Nick Fury. She is intimidating, incredible, ruthless and brilliant. As the DCU continues forward, I hope her character is at the heart of it all, pulling the strings.
In summation, Suicide Squad was, to me, a below average disjointed, stitched together sometimes comedy, sometimes drama, often time music video, and generally bland action movie. I know that sounds harsh. But, once you start watching it, there will be no surprises, no break out moments, no quotable lines and no reason, outside of a director’s cut, to watch it again. On a positive note, DC is moving into a better direction. Less emo, more entertaining. The latest Justice League trailer has me hopeful for a DCCU which should be more like the Justice League animated series.
Box office numbers are good for this weekend, but time will tell if this movie has any legs. DC tried to make their Guardians of the Galaxy or Hellboy’s BPRD team and came up short. All that being said, if you want to watch an honestly good Suicide Squad movie, watch the animated Batman: Assault on Arkham. You won’t regret it.
Official Score: You ever go out with someone on a first date and had a great time? But, by the third date, you realize you aren’t that interested in them? Well Suicide Squad, it’s not you, it’s me. See, I just got out of the relationship and I’m not ready to get back into one. Like me on Facebook and we can be friends.