Director: David Ayer
Starring: Will Smith, Jared Leto, Margot Robbie, Joel Kinnaman, Viola Davis
Studio: Warner Bros. Pictures
Rated: PG-13 (For sequences of violence and action throughout, disturbing behavior, suggestive content and language)
The following is not going to be a review. Yes, I will be discussing characters, story structure, and prose in editing as best as I can, but this is not going to be a review. There will be no pretending that there is an artistic bone in this movies body. There will be no debating whether or not this is anything else other than a product by committee. “Suicide Squad” is the third film in what Warner Bros. has dubbed the DC Extended Universe, a series of movies that have declared war on Marvel Studios and their highly successful Marvel Cinematic Universe. Our first foray into this series was the underwhelming “Man of Steel,” followed by the brain dead “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice” earlier this year. Now we have “Suicide Squad,” which is the worst of everything we've come to expect from this type of film making, genre, and thought process from studios. This is not a review; this is a public warning.
The problems begins during the first thirty minutes, where the screenplay tries in vein to properly introduce a whole team of supervillains that will be brought together to bring down a bigger evil that threatens to destroy the world. This is a movie where the antiheroes could care less about the fate of the world (most likely because they are in jail, bored to death), but decide to go ahead and help when threatened with instant death. There is even a team member that doesn't get an introduction because his sole purpose is to try and escape and make a point to all the other characters that the government is dead serious (ho ho) about killing them should anyone step out of line. These introductions come so fast and are so brief though, that with the exception of one of the characters, I didn't feel like I got to know any of them (and yet, somehow, almost thirty minutes is spent on this intro).
The character the movie wants us to connect with most is Deadshot (Will Smith), probably because he's the hitman with a heart of gold. He kills people for money, yes, but he also has a daughter he wants to provide a better life for. From what little time we get to see of them, I suspect the daughter being in the custody of Child Services would be better for her than what the movie itself proposes. There is also a man who looks like a crocodile named Killer Croc, but he does little more than sulk in the shadows and growl once in a while. You also have a government agent played by Viola Davis who has been tasked with recruiting this group of villains. Throughout the movie it is unclear whether she is a good guy or bad buy. This isn't because her character is complicated, only that the movie is so poorly written, it's motives so confusing, that I was unsure whether I was supposed to be on her side or not.
The only person to actually be worth paying attention to is the psychotic Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie). She's neither likable nor interesting, but she has a definite personality that is on display, and for this reason she is the only one who stands out (and before anyone asks, there is another female on the team, so the fact that she is a girl doesn't contribute to this). Even with Harley's well defined personality, the only thing we know about her life is that she was once a psychiatrist before she fell in love with the Joker (Jared Leto), and went all nuts on the world. In a bizarre way she also has chemistry with the Clown Prince of Crime, which is more than I can say for anyone else. The whole point of making a movie about a team of characters is to see them play off each other in fun ways. Not only is the movie rarely fun to watch, but most of the characters don't interact with each other much at all.
They snip at each other, but with the exception of Harley, they never actually talk with anyone. Of course, it's not like they would have anything to talk about anyway. For the majority of the two hour film I was completely uncertain of what was going on or how anything was related to one another. There is an evil witch who is turning everyday citizens into blob monsters or something, but never was I sure how this was actually contributing to the grand scheme. For that matter, there is an item the villains spend a good chunk of time searching for. When they get said item and actually used it, I couldn't tell how it helped them anymore now than before they had it. In fact, at the risk of giving the ending away, how does the Suicide Squad win at the end of the day? Is this a big budget equivalent of a ‘cease fire?' Everything is explained so poorly I must have missed something.
I'm sure the sloppy editing and nauseating visual effects didn't help matters. Regardless how I slice it though, this is a movie that is a train wreck from beginning to end. To quote my dad, “it was watchable…but just barely.” The “just barely” he is most likely referring to is the overall mess of the production. I watched “Suicide Squad” more with a morbid fascination that so much went wrong with it, that no one was able to step in and stop everything before it got this out of hand. I mean, who hires Jared Leto to play the Joker, only to have him pop up for three to five minutes over the span of two hours for a mere twenty minutes of screen time? When you have one of history's greatest villains (played by a great, Academy Award-winning actor) in your movies, you need to use him! In fact, the more I think about Harley Quinn, I think her character was good in spite of this movie, not because it knew what to do with her.
There are flashbacks to previous DCEU movies and mid-credits scenes that hint at future films to come. At this point the DCEU has been up to bat three times and struck out every time. It's time to reel this franchise in and burn it to the ground. It is an insult to people with functioning brains. All its doing is taking well known characters the public loves and having them do any random thing they can think of. Even director David Ayer got screwed in this process, as this apparently isn't even the version he cut. The story goes that while he was editing the movie, a humor filled teaser trailer hit the internet and was warmly received by the public. Sensing audiences would be put off when they found out the real movie was actually very dark, the studio assembled their own cut without the directors knowledge, and (surprise, surprise) deemed it better, and that is the version we have.
They aren't even hiding the fact that these movies are made by committees, because no person with an ounce of creativity would let this final product through. While the director isn't always right, this same thing happened during the filming of “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice.” What hope does this franchise have if the studio can't trust their creative people to make it? This is a movie so bad, so un-savable, that if you are married and your spouse makes you join them to see this, use the date as grounds for divorce and sole custody of your children. If, on the other hand, your spouse complains about how bad it is, make sure you keep them; obviously they are an intelligent person, and it would be a waste to let them get away from you.
P.S. Despite the PG-13 rating parents are absolutely encouraged NOT to take their kids to see this! It is too sadistic, too depressing, and too dumb for impressionable young minds. Go see “Finding Dory” again.
Parents, there a lot of violence, language, disturbing images, and sexual content. Recommended for ages 16 and up.