WARNING: The following review contains spoilers, I’m telling you now so you don’t pretend to be outraged later.
You know it’s getting pretty depressing to talk about the DC Extended Universe at this point. Every time Warner Bros comes out with a new exclusive to show everybody, nerds comes out of the ground like a packing of fucking zombies to take a bite out of Charles Roven’s big fat ass. It’s getting to the point where attacking DC movies isn’t even fun anymore. Watching a DC movie is like pushing a kid face first into the mud, while you and your buddies start laughing, the kid starts to breakdown before he runs away in tears and you are just stuck with the general feeling of “Well that wasn’t as fun as it was supposed to be”. After the critical bust that was Batman vs Superman, Warner Bros really needed Suicide Squad to hit a home run and give people some sense of optimism about this universe. However, early reviews have torn this film apart like a perfect piece of smoked pork. Fans are even signing petitions defending a movie that they haven’t even seen yet. I wasn’t very impressed with the trailer and the early reviews made me fear my predictions had come true. Well you can’t judge a film based on speculation so I had to see Suicide Squad myself, and after watching it I feel like people are having too much fun beating the busted piñata that is DC movies.
As a Marvel fanboy, I truly enjoy the New 52 version of Suicide Squad. So when I heard that Suicide Squad was in production, I was very excited to see characters like Black Spider, Voltaic, Light, Lime, and King Shark on the big screen…then I found out that none of those characters were in the movie, oh joy. There were questions regarding the casting of the film. Tom Hardy dropped out during the early stages of production. Meanwhile, you had Will Smith cast as Deadshot, Jared Leto as Joker, Margot Robbie as Harley Quinn, and Cara Delevingne in anything that involves acting. Suicide Squad had the weight of the world on their shoulders and it was time to carry.
Suicide Squad begins immediately following the events of Batman vs Superman. Amanda Waller assembles a team of the world’s most dangerous criminals to be used as a weapon for the US government. As most projects involving our government, things go wrong faster than you can say ‘Go Go Gadget fuck up’. Amanda controls an ancient witch named Enchantress by using her heart. Enchantress summons the evil spirit of her brother and begins to take over the world less than 40 minutes and it’s up to a team of B-list criminals to stop a mythical force of death. Since the majority of the characters in this movie are universally unknown to mainstream audiences, a lot of backstories had to be done. Literally, the first 20 minutes of Suicide Squad is backstory and character introductions of everyone on the team, except for Slipknot so it’s no surprise that he dies 5 minutes after being introduced just to prove Waller isn’t fucking around.
Many people want to know if the actors could nail the portrayal of their favorite comic book characters. Let’s start with Jared Leto as the Joker and the answer is…fine. I mean Leto’s Joker is only in the movie for about 10 minutes and Leto claims many of his scenes were cut from the film. Leto chews up the scenery every time he appears and while he isn’t better than Ledger he is more convincing than Nicholson. Leto sounds like the Joker he doesn’t look much like the Joker. Yeah, he has the green hair and white makeup but he looks more like a villain from the Fast and Furious than Batman’s arch rival. Costume design was a big issue for me personally. Perhaps this is me being a nitpicking fanboy but I’d like to see characters look recognizable to print version, it helps explain the characters to people when you are dealing with a property that largely unknown to the general public. However, in Suicide Squad, none of the actors look like their comic book counterparts and the only person who resembles their character is Will Smith as Deadshot.
I worried that Will Smith was going to play Will Smith and not Deadshot and that’s exactly what happened. Like it or not, he was the best character in the movie. Will is the only person who gives any natural charisma with his performance. Big Willie is funny when he needs to be, serious when he has to be, and empathetic when you need him to be. Margot Robbie as Harley Quinn was good but she never quite sold me as Harley. Her Long Island accent slips in & out at times and the choice of wardrobe doesn’t scream Harley either. She dawns the classic red & black costume for all of 2 seconds otherwise she’s just a baseball bat wielding one-liner machine in booty shorts. In her defense, her screen presence is just as good as Will’s and she does provide a majority of the best and funniest moments.
I have to question the film’s choice of music. You tell about halfway in that Warner Bros really tried to make this as much like Guardians of the Galaxy as possible. Yes, Guardians repopularized 70s pop music but the songs that they used to fit the tone of the film and never felt out of place. Here they shoehorn random songs at awkward moments that takes you out the film not embrace it. For example, when the Suicide Squad is released from prison and get their weapons back, all of a sudden Eminem’s ‘Without Me’ plays during a montage. It wasn’t a clever choice and it didn’t fit the tone of the scene at all so you wondered why they chose that song, to begin with. If you’re trying to match the score of another franchise, you can’t pretend like we didn’t see that said franchise just two years ago and realize they did it better.
Despite some small annoyances, things were coming along nicely going into the third act. I was getting ready to tear the critics of this film a new one because it was nowhere near as bad as I was told, but then third act arrives and all the criticisms start to become valid. I’m not a fan of Cara Delevingne because of her acting and when the movie gives her the least amount of speaking roles possible, they tend to agree. Enchantress erects a ‘weapon’ in the center of the city, however, they never really explain how it was supposed to work. After some dubbed voice over dialogue and a laughable summoning scene, the showdown concludes with the squad members battling Enchantress and her CGI nameless brother to the death. Harley gets close enough to cut out Enchantress’ heart and with the help of Killer Croc and Deadshot takes down the weapon and saves the day. All the good will the first half of the movie was able to build is damaged by a big CGI-fest of creatures, corny dialogue, forced laughs, explosions, and overly dramatic music.
Does Suicide Squad deserve the heat it’s getting? No. In all honesty, there was more to like about the film than dislike. Viola Davis’s portrayal of Amanda Waller is just as thrilling and brutal as it should be. The character of El Diablo really steals the show with his backstory and ability, for an unknown he is one of the biggest pros in the movie. They do a great job at humanizing this group of criminals to make them more than just a group of felons, you legitimately feel for their characters and their tragic backstories, making them more complex than you typical superhero team up. The story is flawed but outside of some creative decisions, Suicide Squad is a step in the right direction for DC. Unfortunately, they needed a bigger impact to create any buzz going forward for Warner Bros. WB tries to be taken seriously to appeal to DC fans while jamming in one liners and humor to appeal to the MCU viewers. In the end, you just get a jumbled narrative that doesn’t succeed in making anyone truly happy. Suicide Squad is a good film and a step in the right direction after Batman vs Superman, the problem continues to be that this had the potential to be a great film but studio interference seems to be anchoring the final product.
OFFICIAL RATING: ***
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