I wish I could say that I enjoyed this movie. Failing that, I wish I could say I hated it. Unfortunately, Suicide Squad fits right in with the rest of 2016’s blockbuster season – another boring slice of mediocrity.
There’s potential all over the place, especially in terms of performances and design, but with such a lazy script and average camera-work that “eh” is about all you can muster upon leaving the theatre.
As with all of these franchise films, particularly the superhero ones, it’s impossible to know to whom exactly we should be pointing the blame. I’ve enjoyed David Ayer‘s previous work, especially Training Day and End of Watch.
A big issue for me was the treatment of the characters. Much of the time, lines of dialogue seemed to be distributed to the character who hadn’t spoken in the longest amount of time, rather than the character who should actually say the line. There also seemed to be a fundamental misunderstanding of several of the characters featured in the film, which I attempted to ignore. These are, after all, new takes on the characters, and I shouldn’t find it so frustrating that many are such radical departures from their comic-book counterparts. Still, they were very hit-and-miss.
Will Smith‘s Deadshot is great. Flawed, cold, ruthless, he has his own code and sticks to it. He misses his daughter, and wants Batman dead for separating him from her. His performance is great, and his Deadshot is one of the few characters that seems to be ripped from the pages – with a few Smithisms added for good measure. My one complaint is that he obviously told the producers “Now, I’m only going to wear my mask in two scenes, and in one of them it will be for absolutely no reason.”
Jared Leto‘s Joker is the worst live-action Joker we’ve had. This isn’t necessarily a huge condemnation – after all, Jack Nicholson and Heath Ledger were both excellent – but I just wasn’t convinced by him at all. He reminded me more of Joe Pesci‘s character in Goodfellas – particularly in a scene shared with Common. In a film stuffed with quips and one-liners, the Joker has none. None at all. He is little more than a gangster on drugs. His relationship with Harley is also handled poorly; there’s no consistency in the film, let alone with the source material. Margot Robbie‘s Harley Quinn is a solidly performed, shallow character. With the exception of one surprisingly touching scene after suffering a loss, her role is mostly that of the annoying, sexy one. This would be fine if she was relegated to background status along with some of the other, less famous Squad members, but she’s given just as much screen-time as Smith and her character is simply too weak to do anything with it.
Joel Kinnaman‘s Rick Flagg is much the same. Finely acted, but he has little to do but stand in the front and look handsome, and his character is mostly a plot-device, changing whenever the script calls for it. Viola Davis‘ Amanda Waller is chilling. Probably my favourite performance in the film, but I have to ask two questions; Waller literally has Batman’s phone number. She uses him to round up at least two of the Squad members. How does it not occur to you to call him when all this shit is going down? The other question is to ask what the hell her motivations are. Does she want to protect people? Nope. She executes fellow FBI agents in cold blood. Does she despise metahumans? Nope, she smiles and gives them all nice things for a job well done. Bit silly.
Jay Hernandez and Cara Delevingne play El Diablo and Enchantress, respectively. I enjoyed both of these characters in the first half of the movie. Later, I cared about them less, mostly because of forced nonsense like referring to the rest of the Squad as “family” after knowing them for a couple of hours. Enchantress had a weird belly-dancing thing that I guess must be necessary to cast her spells. Also a bit silly. She does have a very cool transformation, though, which was one of the few moments in the film I loved.
Jai Courtney‘s Captain Boomerang, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje‘s Killer Croc and Karen Fukuhara‘s Katana are all boring, lazy additions to the Squad who do pretty much nothing but take up space. Every now and then one will spout off a one-liner that isn’t particularly funny. Katana is apparently Flagg’s bodyguard, but leaves him to get a drink at a bar with the other Squad members, as the majority of Flagg’s soldiers also call it a night and head home. At one point, Captain Boomerang is given permission to leave, and he runs. The next scene, he’s back. Maybe something was lost in editing. Slipknot‘s entrance is kinda funny but pretty predictable when he was the only Squad member not to get an introduction with a popular song playing over the top. Scott Eastwood was also in the movie, which I didn’t even realise for most of it. He has a very minor role as one of Flagg’s soldiers who gets maybe five lines of generic, soldiery dialogue before abandoning Flagg with the rest of the soldiers and inexplicably being suddenly back alongside Boomerang.
The plot leaps around a tiny bit, with no real purpose at all. We get a dozen songs in the first half-hour. There’s another laser-shooting-into-the-sky climax, for the three seven-year-olds who aren’t sick of that yet.
It’s a shame that it’s so poorly put together, because (apart from the script) most of the pieces seem to be there. There’s great costume design, cool music, decent action sequences, and solid performances. Unfortunately, it just doesn’t bring anything new to the table, and the old stuff it brings has been done better elsewhere. It’s bad, but it’s not so bad.
At least it was better than Batman v Superman