Film Review – Suicide Squad (2016)
After the disappointment that was Batman V Superman, many DC fans then turned to Suicide Squad as the possible savior of the DCEU. Many cited its seemingly lighter tone and feel to be a turning point from both Man of Steel and Batman V Superman for the betterment of the overall franchise. This was not the case as the film was panned by critics. But are there any redeeming qualities? The following review will be spoiler free.
Suicide Squad is directed by David Ayer and stars a solid cast with notable actors such as Will Smith, Margot Robbie, Jared Leto, and Viola Davis. We follow a group of people coined “the worst heroes ever” who are assembled by Amanda Waller (Viola Davis) and tasked to take down an evil threat that is terrorizing Midway City. Along the way, we discover more about this large group of villains led by Deadshot (Smith) and Harley Quinn (Robbie) as they uncover some of Waller’s hidden plans. All the while, the Joker (Leto) lurks in the background, ready to pounce.
As has been well-documented, Suicide Squad numerous issues in production. After the initial backlash to Batman V Superman, extensive reshoots were done on the film to add more humor and lighten the tone of the film in fear that many would be turned off to the film’s somber feel. To make matters worse, Warner Bros. hired Trailer Park, a trailer-cutting company, to make competing edits of the film that contrasted with David Ayer’s original vision for the film. The different edits were showed to test audiences and the Trailer Park cut won out, turning into the final theatrical release.
Surprisingly, despite this major instance of studio interference, David Ayer remained quiet. He refused to lash out against Warner Bros. The end result was a film that limped to a 25% Rotten Tomatoes score and put the future of the DCEU on hold until Warner Bros. could make a new strategy moving forward.
What I Liked
A large portion of the enjoyment for this film comes from two distinct performances: Will Smith as Deadshot and Margot Robbie as Harley Quinn.
Although many who read the comics complain that Will Smith largely played a version of himself, it’s still a lot of fun. Smith channels his younger self in this role, quipping with a certain swagger that only he can muster.
His character is also one of the few that has legitimate character moments and motivations. We understand why he’s bad and why he commits crimes. In a film about villains, it’s important that at least some of them are humanized so that we have someone to root for him. Smith certainly pulls this off, adding a large majority of the heart and humor.
In the same vein, Margot Robbie nails the character of Harley Quinn. There’s multiple traits that an actor must convey in order to make Harley Quinn work: insanity, sexuality, playfulness, ruthlessness, and humor. She certainly accomplishes all of these characteristics with ease. Robbie understands the toxic relationship that Harley has with Joker while also adding to the fun with her ditsy humor.
Is she portrayed as overly sexual in some scenes? Probably. However, her character uses it to her advantage to get ahead in some cases which was greatly appreciated by this critic.
What I Didn’t Like
However, other than some fun performances, Suicide Squad is a complete mess.
I can’t really blame David Ayer for this horribly display of editing considering this film was taken away from him in post-production. But, the flaws are quite abundant.
This film is so chopped up from editing that even plain dialogue scenes have weird, awkward cuts in the middle of them which completely throws off the rhythm of the film. Since the main editors of the film are from a trailer-cutting company, the film seems more concerned with making a music video than a film with an actual story.
I’m totally on board for a film that features stylized movements to a fun soundtrack, but even that idea is squandered. When a scene begins, it feels like an executive uttered the phrase, “What’s the most on-the-nose song we can put in here?” I mean c’mon, “Sympathy for the Devil” when a villain is introduced? The first fifteen minutes of this film is one big trailer. It jumps from obvious pop song to another obvious pop song. Not only is it not subtle, it’s just annoying.
What I Didn’t Like…Continued
Probably due to its behind the scenes issues, Suicide Squad devolves into a generic mess. If you’ve seen a blockbuster movie in that past ten years, then you’ve seen practically every story beat contained. The following sentence describes an integral part of Suicide Squad:
An other-wordly creature creates a disposable army for our heroes to mow down all the while having a weapon that shoots a beam into sky.
The above line applies to the following films: Ghostbusters, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows, Independence Day: Resurgence, Marvel’s the Avengers, Fantastic Four, and Big Hero 6. And that’s only films since 2012!
How can a film be given praise for such a generic plot? Where’s the originality?
With such a cliched script, the movie needs fantastic characters to be successful. Does Suicide Squad have those?
Other than Deadshot and Harley Quinn, each character is mostly hollow or even borderline offensive. Killer Croc is especially ridiculous as his character is essentially a racist caricature.
What I Didn’t Like…Continued…Continued
There’s a serious problem with Jared Leto’s Joker. Whether or not you enjoyed his rendition of the Joker is entirely up for debate. However, the main issue is that his character is completely wasted. He adds nothing to the plot nor is given enough screen time to actually have a presence in the film. The Joker simply shows up and then leaves soon after. If you were to remove the Joker from Sucide Squad, it wouldn’t alter the plot whatsoever.
Maybe the Joker had an actual importance to the original plot of Suicide Squad, but his character is a whole lot of nothing. Even his scenes come out of nowhere within the flow of the movie, acting as an inconsistency from actual through-lines and character beats. Does arguably the best super-villain of all-time deserve such treatment? Absolutely not.
Aside from some solid performances, Suicide Squad falters mightily, failing to create a cohesive, compelling, or intriguing film. It gets a D. If you have any type of editing background, stay away from this film or you’ll have a minor heart attack.
I enjoyed some the Suicide Squad as characters, but not the film that they were a part of.
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