Hot Take: What a mess! Nowhere near as bad as last year’s Fantastic Four but with an eerily similar feel. Suicide Squad is the most disappointing mediocre film since, well, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice.
Suicide Squad had such promise. The trailers were about as good as trailers can be. The cast assembled for the film had plenty of proven talent with a track record of making excellent movies. Writer/director David Ayer wasn’t a sure thing but has plenty of watchable flicks on his resume to give you confidence he could pull this off. Despite the excellent marketing, cool concept, solid cast and competent writer/director, Suicide Squad fails to deliver the goods.
Why does Suicide Squad fail? The soundtrack for one. Not that the soundtrack isn’t excellent. From the Rolling Stones to Eminem to the Animals to Credence Clearwater Revival, the recognizable tunes of Suicide Squad are excellent choices. Unfortunately, in context, they just feel thrown into the movie as cool background noise. It feels like Suicide Squad tries to make a soundtrack to compete with Guardians of the Galaxy. The problem is Suicide Squad uses a crowbar to force every song into the movie and most if not all of the songs just feel loud and overbearing and fail to enhance the actual viewing experience. Plus, the trailer used well known music to build the hype so using the same “trick” in the movie as the trailer isn’t much of a treat. It’s tired.
Suicide Squad isn’t terrible which is probably more frustrating since it never gets to that so bad it’s good level. Will Smith as Deadshot is the best part of the film. He even has excellent chemistry with Margot Robbie’s Harley Quinn who has the most manic role in the film. Robbie bounces back and forth between entertaining and annoying. It’s like watching Olympic Ping Pong. Jai Courtney as Boomerang is… umm… he’s Jai Courtney. (Did you see how terrible he was in Terminator Genisys?) Jay Hernández suffers from having to microwave his story. It’s hard to believe how much his character changes in the matter of cinematic minutes but it’s not his acting that causes such ills. Adewale Akinnouye-Agbaje is unrecognizable as Killer Croc and has some okay moments. There’s Joel Kinnaman who is serviceable as Rick Flagg, the group’s field leader, but when you read that Tom Hardy was originally cast in the role, you feel shortchanged. Then there’s Viola Davis who is the brains behind this group of “bad guys” put together to do some good and take the fall if it goes horribly wrong. Davis plays Amanda Waller and despite the fact that she’s surrounded by metahumans who have done some pretty awful stuff, she might be the worst of the worst. Davis plays the character well but it’s a little too cartoonish for my taste.
As for the actual bad guys in the movie, there’s the Enchantress played by Cara Delevingne. Delevingne plays the witch who is over 6,000 years old hellbent on taking over the world. She is arguably the worst movie villain since Fantastic Four‘s Doctor Doom. (The most recent Fantastic Four. You know… Fan4stic.) When the villain is a distraction from the movie and not something you look forward to seeing, it’s a problem.
Speaking of problems, we failed to mention The Joker. Now, while some have major issues with Jared Leto as The Joker, I did not. If anything, he’s better than I expected. Unfortunately, having to have your performance compared to Jack Nicholson and Heath Ledger isn’t just difficult, it’s unfair. The problem with The Joker is, as written, he appears to be a heroic figure in the film. As he pursues his damsel Harley Quinn to free her and resume their twisted love affair, The Joker weaves in and out of the story in such a way that like many other threads woven through the film are more annoying than essential. There’s so much going on in Suicide Squad, it ends up being one big headache. The Joker is probably the biggest example of that. Without much of a backstory, we can’t assume The Joker in Suicide Squad is either Nicholson’s version or Ledger’s version because both died. Plus, this Joker has a very different feel than the other two and without any previous development, Leto’s version just feels awkward. It might be good but we don’t know enough about him to really say his portrayal is fitting.
In the end, Suicide Squad fails to deliver on big promises shouted out via the movie’s trailers. The trailers look fun, intense and frantic. Unfortunately, the final product is tired, draining and headache-inducing. The scariest part is due to the box office success of the film (it has the biggest August opening in box office history), we’re likely to get a sequel. I guess such a prospect’s saving grace is that you definitely walk away feeling like Suicide Squad could have been better.
“Spoiler Free” Pros
- Deadshot’s Shooting Sprees
While some will be annoyed by his shooting range, when Deadshot gets to firing, it’s a sight to see. Smith sells it well and the action is at its best when focused on him.
- The Soundtrack In Isolation
While one of the knocks on the film I had was its soundtrack, it had nothing to do with the music choices and everything to do with how those choices were used. The song choices were excellent, it’s just how the movie chose to dance with the music that caused a problem.
- The Bat
It’s always good to see Batman on the big screen. Batffleck continues to look promising. Let’s hope that Justice League is the great rebound for the DC Universe because Suicide Squad wasn’t it.
“Spoiler Free” Cons
- The Arguments
Critics have consistently dissed the movie while audiences have turned out in droves. It was kind of cute during Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice but now it’s just annoying to listen to the vocal minority of the Internet claim some sort of conspiracy against the DC Universe because Suicide Squad received bad reviews. You know what would stop critics from bashing DC movies? Make better movies!
- Wasting Characters
Okay, there might be a spoiler here but it’s not much of one. In the opening of the film, the characters are introduced with the exception of one: Slipknot. You instantly know Slipknot is like that random guy on the Away team in Star Trek episodes who eats it. You probably will figure out how before it unfolds, too.