After Batman v Superman didn't turn out to be the big megahit that Warner Bros. hoped for, the next big bet is on Suicide Squad.
Featuring a ridiculously big number of characters and big A-list stars, could this be finally the crucial kickstart for the DCU that Warner Bros. is constantly attempting to achieve?
After many trailers that hyped up fans and increased their hopes considerably, there sure is a lot of excitement but also pressure put on Suicide Squad.
Question is, whether Suicide Squad actually manages to be the big hit to lay a good foundation for the upcoming Justice League, or if it misguidedly puts quantity over quality...
It feels good to be bad...Assemble a team of the world's most dangerous, incarcerated Super Villains, provide them with the most powerful arsenal at the government's disposal, and send them off on a mission to defeat an enigmatic, insuperable entity. U.S. intelligence officer Amanda Waller has determined only a secretly convened group of disparate, despicable individuals with next to nothing to lose will do. However, once they realize they weren't picked to succeed but chosen for their patent culpability when they inevitably fail, will the Suicide Squad resolve to die trying, or decide it's every man for himself?
Ever since Suicide Squad got revealed it got presented in the same vein as this year's Deadpool - a team of villains that are asked upon when the job gets too dirty for superheroes. And even though Suicide Squad definitely thinks that it's a badder and meaner version of Guardians of the Galaxy, the movie itself sadly falls short in way too many aspects than to completely sell us on the idea.
Starting off with the story of Suicide Squad, it can be said that even though Suicide Squad's very straightforward simplistic storyline is far from being anything remotely innovative and reminds one more of a videogame than a complex narrative. Suicide Squad does just good enough in the form of a simple dumb fun popcorn flick. After Superman demonstrated his powers to the world in more than one occasions (before his apparent death) the government searched for options to make "metahumans" work in the government's favor without posing an eventual threat to the world itself. Thus a Task Force X unit or Suicide Squad was formed out of a handful of villains, which under the threat of a small implanted bomb in their necks and the promise of eventual freedom, are set on a mission to prevent a new even worse danger (which I wont spoil) from destroying the world.
|"When there's something strange in Midway City, who you gonna call?..."|
It doesn't really take a whole lot of effort to quickly notice that the main story of Suicide Squad is littered with plot holes and logical errors that in many cases rob the story from making any reasonable sense. Considering that the Suicide Squad itself actually, aside from Deadshot and El Diablo, feels ridiculously out of place and actually quite useless in comparison to the special forces unit they are send to the now evacuated Midway City, Suicide Squad sure doesn't really try to be realistic anyway but rather a dumb fun popcorn movie. Yet even then, one cannot help but immediately notice that not the story is the problem with Suicide Squad but rather exactly how it is told.
Suicide Squad features a very uneven and choppy pace that makes it absolutely obvious that the movie went through the now already exposed troubles in the editing department. After a great first act that does a fair job of introducing each character and give them some well deserved but incomplete feeling backstory (most of them at least), the movie sadly doesn't really know when enough is enough. What follows is a second act that starts off the action of the main story and mission which nevertheless at seemingly random parts has flashbacks to some characters' backstories just out of nowhere thrown in. Same goes for many of the obviously additionally shot action scenes for the movie that got stitched together in occasionally quite chronologically confusing successions (not that the action is anything to write home about anyway).
|"I know that my plan doesn't really make any sense, but let's do it anyway!"|
It is apparent that more time has been put into writing the characters' backstories than Suicide Squad's ultimately very simple main story itself that sadly tends to follow too many clichees than necessary (it even involves a clicheed big evil lightbeam in the center of the city). The truely sad part however is that it's also painstakingly obvious (and confirmed) that a whole ton of scenes that were filmed to give characters more backstory and context got ultimately cut from the movie. The result is a very unbalanced feel of relatability to each of the Squad's characters, with some being clearly the main showrunners while others get shoved aside to be nothing more than comic relief or just some bland muscle for hire.
|Sadly, the Squad members are very unequally fleshed out.|
With that said, Margot Robbie as Harley Quinn and Will Smith as Deadshot are the clear two main attractions in Suicide Squad. Luckily though, not only are their characters the most fleshed out of the whole bunch, but also they are easily the most entertaining parts of the entire movie. While Harley Quinn's comedic timing is a big hit and miss kind of affair, Margot Robbie does a great job of representing the crazy nature of the character with all the necessary quirks that fans expect.
And of course Will Smith had to once again play some sort of good guy, even in this villain focussed movie. Performing as Deadshot, a marksman contract assassin, through the very first flashbacks it becomes clear that the movie poses Deadshot in the light of a misunderstood criminal (just like pretty much every other member of the squad). And even though the "misunderstood villain" theme in Suicide Squad is painstakingly overplayed, one still cannot help but notice the insane amount of charisma that Will Smith embodies, who manages to make any scene he is in entertaining. Be it with cool sharpshooter action moves or snappy dialogue and comebacks (that are surprisingly curse-heavy for a PG-13 movie!), Smith definitely even in this very lackluster Blockbuster shows that he can lift any movie up with his irresistably likable persona itself.
|Deadshot and Harley Quinn are easily the best things about the entire movie.|
Seeing how there are so many other characters to talk about in Suicide Squad let's make the next one's quick:
Amanda Waller - Perfectly played by Viola Davis. Captures the character of the comic book counterpart perfectly, although her rational thinking and coldly calculating nature doesn't quite match up with most of her plot hole heavy plans.
Rick Flag - A nice counterpart to Deadshot whose love relationship with another certain character was a welcome new stake for the main story but not convincingly enough presented.
Captain Boomerang - Obvious but functioning comedic relief in the movie. And actually shows that Jai Courtney is actually good and entertaining in a movie for once. Miracles seemingly do happen.
El Diablo - A nice calmer and more reclusive character whose clicheed but okay backstory though is weirdly placed and feels unrightfully rushed.
Katana - Rick Flag's bodyguard (for some reason) who is supposed to be the silent badass member. Though this works in action scenes, her backstory also is very rushed and her dialogue is very minimal.
Killer Croc - Supposedly this character originally had a lot more backstory to him. In the ultimately released movie however, he barely has any lines and is nothing more than hired muscle who throws people around during the action scenes.
Slipknot - The less said about him the better. If you couldn't already tell by his "special abilities", he's an absolute waste in the movie.
Enchantress/June Moon - A possessed archeologist whose highly overpowered abilities create a ton of plot holes in the movie and whose magical theme and abilities don't quite mash up with the movie's more grounded tone (especially during the course of the story).
|"What was my backstory again?...Oh, right...I got none."|
And now for the most anticipated and biggest performance of the movie (at least it was marketed that way) - Jared Leto's Joker.
Let's get one thing out of the way first: if you want to go see this movie because of Leto's Joker - Just don't.
Why? Because actually The Joker is barely in this movie. His total screentime comes down to about roughly 6 to 8 minutes or so with Jared Leto already having made his disappointment about the supposedly several deleted scenes with him as the Joker publicly known.
Thus it should be understandable why Leto's performance as The Joker is hard to really judge with only abou 6-8 minutes of actual footage shown. While his new very outlandish gangster and pimp inspired look will definitely remain polarizing, The Joker itself (aside from his presence in flashbacks) is actually absolutely irrelevant to the main plot. With that said, although he is shamelessly presented in the trailers as one of the big highlights and main influences on the movie's story, the Joker barely influences anything at all. Judging soley by what little we are given here, Leto's Joker is just a quirky self-absorbed very forgettable mob boss in the movie and nothing more. And while the Joker (in comparison to his comic counterpart) seems way too narcissistic, concerned about his looks (with all the jewelry and tattoos etc.) and WAY too in love with Harley Quinn, it still would be hard and somewhat unjust to clearly make a final decision whether Leto's Joker is a good or bad depiction of the iconic character. Let's hope that we maybe find out in the upcoming Batman solo movie.
|Don't go into this movie because of Joker. He's actually barely in it at all.|
Looking at the action, Suicide Squad delivers nothing to really write home about.
With the second and third act of the movie weirdly bleeding into each other, the entire action takes place in the abandoned streets and ruins of Midway City that already were prominently showcased in trailers, clips and pictures. So there's not much variety in terms of location going on in the movie.
Yet also choreography-wise, the movie doesn't manage to light a spark. While seeing the Squad beat up the faceless goons that have taken over Midway City (and especially Deadshot kicking ass), there's no real 'oomph' to the action to make it standout. The action is simply servicable but most of all just very generic and would be sleep inducing if it wasn't for the involvement of the Squad's entertaining enough characters (and especially Will Smith of course).
|Will Smith is here to save the scene once again.|
Overall, despite featuring an impressive array of fan favorite characters, of which some have their first theatrical debut, Suicide Squad ultimately is a massively missed chance for Warner Bros. to have kickstarted the DCU after the already failed attempt with Batman v Superman.
What we are given is a movie whose production troubles, back and forths in terms of style, as well as severe re-cuts are painstakingly obvious. With a straightforward and just servicable enough storyline to make for a "dumb but fun popcorn movie", Suicide Squad sadly is very weakly and uncomfortably paced. With a somewhat choppy narrative feel that throws in some scenes and flashbacks seemingly at random, you can tell that the movie's narrative structure was greatly reworked in the editing room. The result is storytelling that oftentimes feels like Frankenstein's monster and which focusses too much on the weak main story instead of the more interesting backstories of the characters. Aside from a very weird pick for a main villain, Suicide Squad offers a wide range of interesting characters whose screentime and given attention is heavily unbalanced though. Even though Margot Robbie as Harley Quinn and Will Smith as Deadshot rightfully are given the biggest focus and manage to give the movie most of its entertainment value, most of the other characters sadly are very underdeveloped and sidelined. This is topped off by a Jared Leto's Joker whose performance prominentally got hyped up as a big thing in the movie, yet whose total screentime comes down to merely about 6-8 minutes tops.
Despite ultimately being a clearly much more fun and entertaining to watch experience than the darker and more dragging Batman v Superman, Suicide Squad's troubled development and production visibly left their marks on the final product. Whereas it's destined to become yet another heavily polarizing DCU-movie, given the fact how much hype the movie's trailers built up and how disappointing the final result from both a technical as well as narrative perspective is, Warner Bros.' insecurity in their plans for the DCU become more and more apparent. There are times in which you can clearly feel that Suicide Squad could've been a much much better movie if it hadn't been meddled around with so much and if crucial narrative decisions had been made beforehand and actually stuck to. Maybe we will see what Suicide Squad could've been in another extended Ultimate Cut of sorts, but judged soley by the now released theatrical cut, Suicide Squad is a very lackluster and generic action movie that is okay at best.
Final Verdict: 4 out of 10