2016 has been a mixed bag for superhero movies hasn’t it? We started off with the witch’s brew of vulgarity, violence and fourth-wall breaking that was Deadpool. Hurray! Then we had Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice which was, to put it bluntly, a flaming shit-show of self-importance. Boo. Then we had Captain America: Civil War, where Marvel once again taught a class in how to pull off a shared cinematic universe. Hurray! Then X-Men: Apocalypse came out and the world sighed with indifference, muttering that the Quicksilver scene was kind of cool. Boo. So with a pattern of “Hurray, Boo, Hurray, Boo” what does Suicide Squad get? Anger. Such anger that I hadn’t felt in so long. And it’s only when you stop to think about the film that you attain this level of anger. It’s worse than just being badly made, but it certainly is that. What really separates it out is its lack of respect for the audience. We’ll get to that later. For the moment, warnings for there will be spoilers for Suicide Squad throughout the review and some colourful language. Oh and a spoiler warning for Batman Vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice which is relevant almost immediately because…
… Superman is dead and this film is about Amanda Waller (Viola Davis) pitching an alternative to the government in the form of Task Force X, a team of highly skilled mercenaries and powerful meta-humans who also happen to be bad guys. The proposed team consists of:
Rick Flag (Joel Kinnaman) – The straight shooting field commander of the squad.
Deadshot (Will Smith) – the world’s most effective assassin and is one of the stronger characters in the film
Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie) – the crazy gymnast with a colourful romantic history and is equally as strong a character as Deadshot.
Captain Boomerang (Jai Courtney) – a boomerang specialist.
Diablo (Jay Hernandez) – a gang banger with fire powers.
Killer Croc (Adewale Akinnuoye Agbaje) – a cannibalistic cross between man and crocodile.
Katana (Karen Fukuhara) – A samurai with a sword that captures the souls of its victims.
Slipknot (Adam Beach) – An assassin who’s super into grapple guns.
Enchantress (Cara Delevingne) – A 6,000 year old witch possessing the body of an unfortunate archeologist whose powers are absolutely the most interesting and entertaining thing in the movie despite how they fluctuate in power at the convenience of the plot.
After getting government approval for Task Force X, Enchantress almost immediately turns on them, resurrects the spirit of her brother and takes over a city as a base from which to launch her vaguely defined take-over-the-world plan. The rest of the team gets explosives put in their necks and told if they disobey they’re dead, case in point, Slipknot tried to run away and got his head blown up. They must go into the city to rescue a VIP and maybe do something about the ancient evil witch thing if they have the time. All the while, a certain Joker (Jared Leto) is coming to rescue Harley Quinn.
If that sounds like there’s a lot going on it’s because there is. Far too much in fact. That’s one of the several different problems at the heart of this film. It has too much of everything. The main cast for instance. Okay so let’s remove Slipknot and Enchantress from the list of Squad members because of there limited time spent as such and count the main characters. There are 7 different members of that group that then have to split screen time with Enchantress, Amanda Waller and the Joker. This puts a stranglehold on them and reduces their time spent on-screen to either incredibly out-of-place back story that gives the illusion of development or samey action set pieces where everyone fights the god damn same. Which entirely misses the point of why people enjoy superhero team ups in the first place by the way. As a result there are characters in the squad who feel entirely pointless and are only there because they are in the comics. In their current forms, I would have cut Katana, Captain Boomerang and Killer Croc from the squad and the Joker from the entire film. Cutting these bits of dead weight will give the other actor’s a chance to breathe and develop.
But I know why all these characters are here. It’s so they can maximise the amount of content they rip off from other superhero films. The 30 minute extended Suicide Squad trailer that is the first act takes bio-sheets from Scott Pilgrim vs. the World and gives them a vibrant paint job that is completely out of sorts with the rest of the film. Captain Boomerang is using the “lol random” humour of Deadpool , jamming it into this film like a cock into a pink unicorn’s asshole. The villain and her lead henchman are copied from Thor: The Dark World. What madness lead someone to copy the swirling shit storm that is Thor: The Dark World?! The eclectic soundtrack, though nice to listen to, is Guardians of the Galaxy inspired, so much so that they actually use “Spirit in the Sky” at one point and it never ever stops. It’s all coming back to that issue of “too much”. One or two sources of “inspiration” is fine. But when you are plucking random elements from lots of completely different scenes you end up with some awful Frankenstein’s monster given life by a mad scientist studio executive.
But that monster would just be a pile of mismatched limbs on the floor without the stitches that hold it together. So what are Suicide Squad‘s stitches like? Painful, disorienting and confusing. Painful because they are mostly made of boring plain-spoken exposition, where no effort was made to hide the fact that it was just there to further the plot. disorientation because the editing has somehow gotten worse than it was in Batman vs. Superman. characters will move places in an instant. Awkward transitions and weak scenes are masked by the omnipresent soundtrack. The action, such as it is, is robbed of what little weight it had left by the editing as well. Confusing then comes in when events happen but we don’t know how they happened. If you have seen or are going to see Suicide Squad answer the question; who shot down the team’s helicopter? Something like this also happens when they forget to foreshadow that Diablo can turn into a giant Aztec Fire Demon in the climax. That sure would have been cool if I wasn’t too busy laughing my ass off at the fucking randomness of it all.
When I saw Man of Steel in 2013 I legitimately thought that was as bad as it was going to get and that DC would make better films in future. Oh how wrong I was. In the space of 5 months they have released two films, both worse than what came before. I mean that, Suicide Squad is without a doubt in my mind the worst DC film since the dark days of Joel Schumacher. Do you know what makes it even worse? It doesn’t even matter. Wonder Woman and Justice League are already done and will be inflicted on us next year. Damn. Just damn.
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