Since every article I’ve written so far have been about good films, I thought I’d take a step back for my next one and revisit a bad one. I originally wanted look at one of my least favorite movies in depth, but I decided I would rewatch them and really come out guns blazing. So for now, my inaugural bad movie article will talk about one of the most disappointing and bewildering films in recent memory, Suicide Squad.
I, like many who had seen the trailers, wanted to like this movie so bad. The DC Extended Universe was 0/2 at that point. Sure, Man of Steel was ok, and Batman V. Superman was terrible (it deserves its own article). Still, the cast seemed solid, the director had an overall positive track record, and the trailers looked genuinely great. The hype train was real for me and a lot of people. Then, the reviews actually started to pour in. Things didn’t look good, maybe even worse than the last two DC films. Nonetheless, I wanted to see the film with my own eyes and decide for myself. As I went in, I still really wanted to like it.
Oh God, I don’t know if things could have been worse. This movie deserves to be discussed as to why is was such a failure on almost every level. No major spoilers in this review, although I probably wouldn’t recommend anybody watch this movie.
Spoiler warning. This section will be pretty damn short. It’s still a section in the review. I did find some things I enjoyed about the film. Margot Robbie, Will Smith, Viola Davis, Jay Hernandez, and Jai Courtney all give pretty good performances given the material they’re working with. The humor was hit or miss but when it hit, I found it pretty funny. The stories and arcs for Deadshot and El Diablo seem decently fleshed out and given care to, and it pays off. I found myself caring for these two the most out of everyone.
Alright, no more positives. I’m serious.
“Fasten your seatbelt, it’s going to be a bumpy night”. Naturally, I have quite a bit to talk about here. So much so that each primary negative deserves its own subsection.
Suicide Squad follows a ragtag group of bad guys (you know they’re bad because they always say it out loud instead of demonstrating it through their actions) who are recruited by a mysterious agent Amanda Waller (Viola Davis) to execute a dangerous, life threatening mission. In exchange for their cooperation, their current prison sentences will be commuted by a number of years. The bulk of the movie follows the squad struggle to get along with each other while it seems their mission is far more under the surface. There’s a side plot involving The Joker (Jared Leto) trying to get Harley Quinn back for himself and out of the squad. Why is the story description in the negatives section?
The story is awful, to be honest. Like really awful. The idea behind the squad is so in case of a super-villain of Superman proportions, we would be be well equipped to stop him. A bat wielding psychiatrist, a guy who has good aim, a guy with useless boomerangs, a guy who’s supposed to be a crocodile, a witch, and a guy who can shoot fire out his hands will stop Superman. Only two of those seem like they’d be even the least bit effective. Perhaps more special ops missions would be more appropriate for this group? Well I guess in the end, the villain they end up facing is so laughably pathetic everything works out. More on that later.
This has to be my least favorite part of the movie. I don’t remember if I’ve ever viewed a big-budget, highly anticipated, good-on-paper film with such atrocious editing. A company who edits trailers was apparently brought in to edit the entirety of the film after the popularity of the trailers themselves. It goes without saying that the two don’t mix well. Cuts are jarring and headache inducing. The frenetic editing style does not mix well with the film overall about 95% of the time. Apparently to these editors, the more nauseous and disoriented your audience is, the more exciting and fun your movie is! I remember setting in the theatre about 3 rows from the front and feeling a headache coming along only 15 minutes into the movie.
The entire structure of the film is horrendous. It’s hard to chalk too much of it too editing, but it’s worth editing. Why are we introduced to characters and then introduced to them again 20 minutes later through lazy expositional dialogue? Why is the last “main character” not introduced until literally halfway through the movie? Why is their mission only taking place over the day and yet the entire main conflict is revealed and solved? Whose decision was it to throw EVEN MORE character flashbacks IN THE MIDDLE OF THEIR MISSION? “Oops, this character is in danger, let’s flashback to an important part of their backstory so the audience remembers to sympathize and relate to this person”. There’s really nothing wrong with making your movie longer as long as you devote time and care into fleshing out your characters. Out of the entire cast, I cared about maybe 3? Bringing me to my next complaint.
Remember when I said I liked Deadshot, Harley Quinn, and Diablo? They were the only ones. Everyone else is either annoying, underdeveloped, or most noticeably, useless. Captain Boomerang, Killer Croc, Katana, Flagg, none of them made a difference. They barely even say anything in the film! Just factory made lines of dialogue designed to make audiences laugh. “I want BET”, proclaims the crocodile black person stereotype. I guess it’s funny if you watch BET? Captain Boomerang’s solitary contribution to the squad is to use a boomerang with a video feed on it? Even that stops working quickly. Was Boomerang able to rob so many banks because he could see video feed of the inside? Katana has one moment of brevity where we’re supposed to feel sad for her. Yet, we know nothing about her story. We haven’t seen her do anything at this point, so why should I care? Flagg is just your generic tough guy soldier befallen by love. Nothing separates him from the rest of his soldiers except for the fact he’s in looooove.
So, these are the bad guys, right? Some kind of Suicide Squad? Thankfully the movie does you a favor and holds your hand throughout the entirety, constantly reminding you how bad and evil they are. Yup, this group of hardened badasses become family after one day on the job. They barely know anything about each other but they got each others’ backs! These are the ones we want fighting bloodthirsty, merciless supervillians. If I had the ability to bond with anyone over one round of drinks on one night, I’d be more of an alcoholic. It’s as if the studio heads wanted to make a movie about bad guys while still making them likable and nice so audiences weren’t turned off. Poor them.
The villain of the film deserves its own subsection because it’s objectively the worst thing about this film, no argument. The motivation for said villain is so incredibly vague and confusing, the filmmakers knew it only needed one or two lines (explained by the villain itself!). So, the villain goes about its plan, a cliche so tired in these blockbuster films I’m almost surprised Michael Bay didn’t direct. We’re intended to see the villain as extremely powerful and threatening. They’re a threat to our existence as we know it! Thankfully for our dumb audience members, our heros defeat the villain quite easily. Almost as if it was a “Ahhh gotcha!” moment and then the villain would come back. Nope, the squad manages to take out the Superman-esque villain by with hand to hand combat. I shit you not, the movie turns into The Raid for a few minutes while the squad pummel Superman Muhammed Ali style. Hey, at least some of the squad finally has something to do!
I almost forgot the henchmen. I could not complete this review without referring to these Angry Jellies. The villain is able to spawn numerous henchmen/guards/future body count victims of the squad to protect itself. Of course, these micro-villains are about as intimidating as the jello they’re portrayed to look like. They’re even weaker and more useless than the squad, which needs to happen so the movie becomes heavily lop sided. “Our audiences won’t like it if our heroes are in peril, let’s make them look like gods compared to the villains”. Even Harley and her Louisville Slugger are able to take down numerous Ivan Ooze wannabes. Why was anybody even worried in the first place? Boyhood had more intense conflict than this movie.
If you asked me two things I’ll always love about film, I’d say Heath Ledger’s portrayal of The Joker, and Jared Leto. Leto is a fantastic actor all around, and one of my favorites. I knew he wouldn’t be able to match Ledger’s revolutionary turn as The Joker. But was it too much to ask to still give a good interpretation?
Let’s Joker is in about 12 minutes of the final film. I’ve heard many of his scenes were cut out to the frustration of Leto himself. I can’t completely blame him for his portrayal. The material was shit. Let’s talk about how he made use of his 12 minutes of screentime.
A lot of growling, purring, acting edgy. Some line delivery so unbelievable it would be more appropriate in the Lego Batman Movie. If I had to give one word as to how I’d describe this Joker, I would use silly. It was silly to plaster The Joker’s body with try-hard tattoos and Hot Topic makeup. To these filmmakers, crazy = saying weird and random shit. “Hunka hunka!”. It’s easy to compare Ledger and Leto and automatically deem Leto inferior. I’d rather look at Leto as his own, and as his own, what a disappointment for fans of The Joker character.
It’s clear that the filmmakers are huge fans of Guardians of the Galaxy and wished to replicate its charm and humor. They realized how great of a soundtrack it had and decided to do the same for their movie. Sorry guys, buying the rights to really popular and well known songs and lazily shoving them in your film isn’t the way to go. For me, the score or soundtrack’s main goal is to evoke emotion within viewers. It’s supposed to be memorable. How many people can hum the Star Wars songs or remember the scores from Inception and Interstellar years after their releases? The entirety of 2001: A Space Odyssey is filled with gorgeous classical music that remains one of the films best aspects.
After I had heard 4 different popular songs in the first 20 minutes, I was exhausted. The trailers had admittedly done it well, so I guess we had to go overkill. I get it, Waller is a badass, so play Sympathy For The Devil. Harley is her own woman, you definitely don’t own her! Talk about holding the audiences hand? This is locking the audience in your house and never letting them experience the outside world. At least I know where most of the budget went (Hint: it wasn’t the script).
Director David Ayer was forced to write the script to Suicide Squad in 6 weeks. Transformers 4 was written in 6 weeks. Don’t mistake me, Transformers 4 is a piece of garbage and one of the most boring films I’ve ever seen. Suicide Squad is a lot better. Still, the rushed nature of the screenplay is so apparent in the film. Pacing, characterization, plot points are all affected by the script. I can’t completely fault Ayer for producing the best he could under a shit ton of pressure. This movie should have been called Exposition: The Movie. It plagues nearly every part of it. More importantly, it’s done horribly and as cliche as you might think. Shit, parts of this film transcend lazy exposition. Flagg’s introduction of Slipknot and Katana might just be the most blatantly obvious and lazy pieces of exposition I’ve ever seen. No exaggeration. It’s fucking embarrassing. Take time to write your films.
Suicide Squad is one of the most pandering, focus-group oriented films released in a while. Perhaps the original vision and some of the original scenes were great. We didn’t get that as an audience. We got what corporate fat-cats thought we as dumb audience members wanted. All you need to do to make a good superhero flick is for it to be fun and zany and wacky! Sure, a lot of people do like that, and I’ll never mock them for enjoying that. It’s not my right to ever disown someone for liking any film I like. My gripe isn’t with fans of the movie. It’s with idiots who think they know how to make movies. It’s with idiots who care about lining their wallets as much as possible, not caring to make a quality product. DC Extended Universe, please get your shit together. My faith in Wonder Woman and Justice League is very little right now. It might just take a couple more flops to actually get your heads in the game.