In honestly, I could probably write an entire dissertation on this film and not even begin to cover all of the things I want to say, but as I only have this one blog post, I’ll just be skimming the surface. As someone who really really really loves Batman and the rogues gallery, this was probably my most anticipated film of the year. Suffice to say I will never allow myself to have expectations for anything ever again.
Suicide Squad, directed by David Ayer, is based off of the comic series of the same name, which was first released in 1959 and rebooted several times in the years since. It follows a group of highly dangerous criminals as they are recruited by a secret government organization, headed by intelligence operative Amanda Waller (Viola Davis), to carry out a high risk missions deemed too dangerous for any normal soldier.
The band of misfits, dubbed Task Force X, includes Deadshot (Will Smith), a highly skilled marksmen, Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie), the infamous Joker’s murderous paramour, El Diablo (Jay Hernandez), a former gang banger who just wants to stay out of the fight, Killer Croc (Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje), a cannibalistic man with the appearance of a reptile, Captain Boomerang (Jai Courtney), a scumbag Australian whose only in it for himself, and Slipknot (Adam Beach), an assassin particularly gifted in tying ropes. Put in charge of corralling this group is hardened soldier Rick Flag (Joel Kinnaman) and his bodyguard, Katana (Karen Fukuhara). An ancient witch called the Enchantress (Cara Delevingne) was supposed to join the task force, but quickly develops into the main antagonist of the film as she escapes from Amanda Wallers clutches and sets out to destroy the world. The rest of the team must put aside their many differences and conflicting agendas to stop her, and are given a little extra motivation after having a nanite bomb injected into their necks which will detonate should they step out of line.
As the story unfolds, The Joker (Jared Leto), who is living la vida without the loca following Harley Quinn’s arrest, is desperate to get her back by any means necessary and will vaguely threaten no less than two people to do it.
This isn’t necessarily what I would classify as a terrible film, but it certainly falls short on a few minor, inconsequential things….…like narrative, plot, character development, and continuity. Nothing a well placed musical montage can’t fix! And believe me, this movie’s chock full of them.
For the sake of organization, I’ll be breaking down a few elements of the film below and how they either succeeded or fell flat:
Plot – The plot of this film was weaker than I am, and anyone whose accompanied me to the gym and watched me struggle lift a five pound weight can testify to how truly pitiful that is. The general idea of the story was interesting, but the execution was ultimately disappointing. The strong first act couldn’t save the stumbling second act, and definitely couldn’t salvage the train wreck of a third act, or what I refer to as the Cara Delevingne Hula Hooping Extravaganza. I could write a list longer than a Led Zeppelin song detailing all the plot holes this film brings to the table during its two hour run time, and it’s very clear that absolutely everyone involved from the head producer down to the guy that brought the coffee had absolutely no idea what they actually wanted audiences to take away from this film. The villains motivations are never fully fleshed out, and the climax of the film falls into the “giant portal of doom in the sky” trope that has been done to death. The plot is passable at best, but I definitely feel they could have taken it in a better direction or done more with the direction they did go in.
Pacing – The pacing of this film is….odd to say that least. It becomes evident while watching it that huge chunks of the footage was removed entirely. In contrast, many of the scenes that did make the film felt tacked on and out of place, probably due to the fact that whatever build up they had filmed was removed. The first 45 minutes of the film are spent almost entirely within Belle Reve prison where all the main characters are incarcerated, but then quickly rushes to put them onto the streets of midway city with little establishing shots in between. A huge part of the movie is selling the audience on the fact that Task Force X have become a pseudo family and want to redeem themselves by fighting off The Enchantress, yet their bonding time is so rushed that it doesn’t feel earned and cheapens later moments in the film. I feel like what I saw in theaters was a very long preview for the real movie which is contained somewhere in the deleted scenes section of the Blu Ray.
Characters – The characters were by far the strongest aspect of this film, save maybe the soundtrack. Will Smith as Deadshot was a particular standout, and brought a charm that the movie so desperately needed. Margot Robbie was solid as the first on screen portrayal of Harley Quinn, and left me hungry for more. Jay Hernandez, though remaining in the background for a good chunk of the film, had one very poignant moment as El Diablo which brought a much needed emotional punch to the screen. Finally there was Ike Barinholtz, who played the corrupt head Prison Guard and was genuinely my favorite part of the movie as he delivered some of the funniest lines. All that said, 75% of the characters in this movie are completely superfluous and could be removed entirely with almost no change to the plot. While everyone gave strong performances, most were given almost nothing to work with. Side story-lines, such as Katana dealing with the grief of her dead husband, are introduced but then never done anything with. Slipknot is put in the film for the sole purpose of dying to prove the nanite bombs are the real deal, and the scene is so on the nose that it becomes distracting.
The Joker – The Joker was by far the biggest selling point of this film given that he’s the most recognizable and most beloved character in the lineup. He was featured heavily in the marketing campaign and all of the trailers, and fans had huge expectations of what was to come in this brand new incarnation of Batman’s most infamous villain. Unfortunately Leto’s Joker really is a case of blink and you missed it as he was on screen for no more than 8 minutes, and whose involvement here can basically be summed up by the scene from A Streetcar Named Desire where Marlon Brando screams Stella over and over again up a staircase. The Joker essentially felt like a marketing pawn to get butts in seats, and although I’m certain Jared Leto is capable of a great Joker performance, he wasn’t given the chance to show it in this film. Almost all his scenes were cut entirely, and the ones that remained were chopped in half. Also I still don’t understand why he wasted several hours organizing all the silverware in his house into a giant ring he could lay in the middle of, but now I’m just nitpicking.
Overall Positives / Negatives
Positives – It managed to keep me entertained for its full 2 hr 10 min run time. The acting was solid in general, and many of the jokes landed successfully. I got to hear the song Super Freak. Margot Robbie was in it.
Negatives – Very weak third act, contains about as much depth as your average episode of Toddlers in Tiaras, Unironically includes the line “you don’t have the balls” spoken by what is supposed to be an ancient being.
Final Consensus – 6/10. This movie is actually incredibly entertaining if you turn your brain off and just enjoy it for what it is. I actually saw it twice and enjoyed it much more the first time than the second, because I wasn’t looking so far into it on my original viewing. There’s lots of easter eggs sprinkled throughout for fans of the source material, and even though my review leaned on the side of negative there was still quite a lot I liked. It was very funny, and I feel like remnants of a truly great movie were in there somewhere, it just didn’t come together as well as it could have.