Starring Will Smith, Margot Robbie, Joel Kinnaman, Viola Davis, Jay Hernandez, Jai Courtney, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, Cara Delevingne, Karen Fukuhara, Jared Leto, Scott Eastwood, Jim Parrack, Ben Affleck & Ezra Miller
Directed by David Ayer
By now you’ve seen the film and read the reviews. Suicide Squad is the worst film ever created, or it’s misunderstood and you’re a fan-boy of another superhero outlet. According to both sides they’re definitively right. Meanwhile no one is arguing over the quality of this film based on its own merit. There seems to be this axe to grind with liking or loathing Suicide Squad, and as a viewer who will always remain impartial it’s infuriating to see it for myself and discover that, lo and behold, both sides are more concerned with advancing their own agenda over simply critiquing the damn film.
You know what? Yeah, it’s actually kind of bad, but it’s belittlement is reasoned by those who seem to have an incredibly hard time reviewing DCEU films without assuming that something must be inherently wrong with them. This puts Suicide Squad at a disadvantage right out of the gate. It’s handed the task of having to simultaneously exist upon and mend the poorly constructed framework of a universe laid by its predecessors. With each layer that framework falters just that little bit more, and the longer it continues to pile up the harder it’s going to be for subsequent films to climb free from the rubble. In that regard Suicide Squad actually does the job demanded by the audience. It marginally repairs the foundations and gives hope that the DCEU may just pull it all together.
What’s most frustrating is that every cue taken from the source material is probably the best this film has. It’s the basics in film execution that are entirely pathetic. At some point during pre-production some bright spark decided it would be a fantastic idea to take the concepts for four separate films and cram them into the first two acts. What we’re left with is an overly bloated mess that tries to juggle the Suicide Squad origin story, the Deadshot solo film, the Harley Quinn / Joker / Batman love affair that’ll serve as the main plot for the next Batman film, and finally the established Suicide Squad film we actually paid to see.
For these partial story lines to fit into the first hour or so they’re hacked right to the bone while an overflow of material is left lying on the cutting room floor. The film then rushes at break-neck speed to conclude its narrative before its two hours are through, yet somehow grinds to an absolute drag while a heavily comic-book styled roll call is spliced in thanks to some tension-lifting re-shoots. The idiotic editing and fast pace would have been forgivable had the film-makers actually been more concerned with making a Suicide Squad film instead of adding storeys onto the DCEU building as quickly as possible in a vain attempt to catch up with its more adept competition.
Case in point: the marketing department being given carte blanche to create this pop-art rock ‘n roll aesthetic the film didn’t need. This takes precedence over writing a film with characters we could actually care about. But once the overbearing executives stopped fretting about the dollars they didn’t have did we get to see Suicide Squad. And it was amazing. The depths delved in that bar scene were the pinnacle of the film and the final battle, while no world beater, was satisfactory. Pacing issues aside, Deadshot and Harley Quinn are where it’s at, though Quinn is a bit of a one-liner dispenser. To a lesser extent El Diablo and the Rick Flag / June Moone romance are in the zone. This is the film Suicide Squad should have been, and it’s dejecting that it was all relegated solely to the third act.
However, there’s another side to this green grass. Characters like Captain Boomerang and Katana are on the nose but tolerable. Beneath that Killer Croc has all of five lines, Amanda Waller is a blank-faced one-note song and there was absolutely no reason for Slipknot to be in this film. But the biggest example of money over matter is none other than the one villain we all came to see.
The Joker’s existence in Suicide Squad is to purely sell the damn film. He’s not an integral part to the plot and his presence seems to be nothing more than a big tease of potential films to come. Don’t get me wrong, a new pimp-gangster Joker is a welcome addition, but it’s hard to gauge Leto’s performance when the character is so obviously tacked-on. Furthermore, a lot of his work is removed, and it gives us a bad impression of Leto’s interpretation. He doesn’t hit the same stride as previous incarnations but then again he’s in the film for all of fifteen minutes, so for the moment he gets a reprieve.
For what it’s worth one major saving grace is that the cast does a fantastic job but again, it’s the material given to them that makes their jobs that much harder. If the terrible editing doesn’t give it away we find out days after release that there’s a ton of footage removed from the film that is integral to making Suicide Squad a complete viewing experience. And this just drives me crazy, firstly because we have fragmented character arcs (or as Killer Croc goes, completely omitted), but secondly because we’re the one’s paying for it. The film released in cinemas should be the finished product, not some abbreviated cut-out. As the film-maker you have your screen-time, and making it work is wholly your responsibility. If you can’t you remove the peripheral material and let it spill over into the inevitable sequel.
It’s a shame this film came about from a professional case of sibling rivalry. The DCEU has missed the chance to strike while the iron is hot so they’re rushing everything so as not to appear to be the little brother in the cinematic universe business. But it’s all too late. We’ve seen it executed perfectly, and because there is an alternative it makes this quick-hype-over-restrained-quality a dangerous mindset. The casuals are already dropping off and the die-hards will soon lose faith, but what’s tragic is that if they simply created at their own accord their efforts would be far more focused and greatly rewarded.
Honestly, at this point it’s looking like a disastrous end to what could have been one of the most promising franchises in modern film. But don’t jump on the bandwagon. See it for yourself because the shortcomings of Suicide Squad have more to do with an utter failure of film production 101 then its relation to a comic-book manufacturer. But be warned. Enduring this film is much like the situation the squad find themselves in. The future is bleak, though there is a glimmer of hope, but it’s all being forced upon you by the powers that be who are banking all their success on you. Unfortunately this is the hand that’s been dealt to you, and you have absolutely no choice in the matter. But don’t worry too much. It’s not all bad and certainly not worth losing one’s head over.