The Suicide Squad in the film Suicide Squad are mostly pointless.
That’s not a good start. But the premise of this film makes literally no sense. That’s not to say there aren’t good things; there are. But it’s difficult to get beyond a messy script, a jumbled tone and underused and misunderstood characters; let’s just call it a DC special. I’m not trying to knock DC here, I’m probably one of the biggest Batman fans you’ll run in to, but I’m getting a bit sick and tired of the guys at Warner Bros. totally misunderstanding what these characters are about. Whether that’s wilfully done or just total ignorance I’m not totally sure but it’s sending the DCEU down a path a lot of people aren’t going to be happy with, me included. Batfleck to the rescue!
The film, written and directed by David Ayer, sets up the Suicide Squad as the brain child of sociopath Amanda Waller (Viola Davis), who wants to gather a team of bad guys together to do good things. Who knows why. Why not just get Batman to do it? The premise of this film doesn’t make sense. And I’ll go on to why later on. It could make sense and it could be great. But it doesn’t and it isn’t. But regardless she recruits the assassin for hire Deadshot (Will Smith), the psychotic Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie), Captain Australia (sorry, Captain Boomerang, played by Jai Courtney), Captain Mexico (El Diablo, Jay Hernandez), Japanese sword person Katana (Karen Fukuhara), Slipknot (who? – Adam Beach), Killer Croc (Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje) and Enchantress (Cara Delevingne). The team is lead by Rick Flagg (Joel Kinnaman). Yep, that is too many characters. Most of the team has been put away by Batman but are released by Amanda Waller to work for the good of the USA in a sort of help us or we’ll blow your head of kinda deal. The team are tasked with brining down Delevingne’s Enchantress who is trying to destroy the world for non-specific reasons. The Joker (Jared Leto) pops up every now and again but does not affect the story at all except to add some backstory to Harley Quinn.
I’ll go into full spoilers from hereon.
Let’s begin what’s good. Despite what I just said, this film is fine. There’s plenty enjoyable aspects to it. But for every good moment, there’s one equally as bad. Sound familiar? Margot Robbie shines out as a highlight, playing the psychiatrist turned psychopath Harley Quinn. She embodies the character pretty much perfectly but unfortunately isn’t really given the room to explore her character beyond her fascination with the Joker (we’ll get on to him).
Will Smith is great, he probably gets the most to do and he sure makes the most of his screen time. He’s as charismatic as you’d expect and leads the film really well. Deadshot isn’t particularly evil, he’s just a gun for hire. It’s implied that everything he does is for his daughter and Smith plays that well. He gets a really great action sequence too, definitely the stand out sequence for me.
Amanda Waller is another positive. She’s an absolute sociopath and the film explores her morality well. There’s a moment where she coldly shoots some of her own employees because they know too much information. She’s almost the villain in this, and I wish the filmmakers had explored that further.
The film is, at parts, good fun. Robbie and Smith have a good rapport and the few character moments there are, are quite good. In fact, most of the cast do a decent job of what little they actually get to do. Except Killer Croc. He’s absolutely awful. The only explanation for this is that David Ayer brought George Lucas in to write his dialogue.
I liked El Diablo, too. He had a lot more to him that I expected. His reluctance to use his powers before undergoing a pretty drastic transformation to take down Incubus gave him a half-decent character arc, which is more than can be said for a lot of the Squad.
I also liked a lot of the art design, except the Joker. There were some cool visuals with Enchantress particularly early on. The soundtrack is pretty good too, but it’s overused. There’s a decent film under the tripe here somewhere.
On to the bad, and there’s a lot here. I’ll start with my biggest problem. And that’s that the Suicide Squad are not at all needed in the film Suicide Squad. There’s literally no point to their existence and they are largely (barring one or two) completely useless in the task they are hired to do.
Surely the whole point of the Suicide Squad is that they can do things that the government can’t do because it’s illegal or the superheroes of this world won’t do because it’s immoral. They are a team required for highly covert tactical missions where the ARGUS cannot be seen to be involved. They’re a team to be thrown under the bus and take the blame for whatever they do. They exist to do a bad thing but for the right reasons, but here all we get is the bad guys getting together to save the world. Why would you need bad guys to fight a super-powered person who is trying to destroy the world? Why would they need “throwing under the bus” for saving the world? The concept of the Suicide Squad in this film is totally obsolete and that’s a shame.
Amanda Waller does plenty of bad shit in this film, but because she feels it’s necessary or because it’s for the greater good. The squad should have been one of these things. Getting them to do something immoral and illegal, for the greater good, for which they could take the blame, not ARGUS or the USA or Batman or whoever. The Squad would take the fall for the bad thing they just did.
“Throw them under a bus” is a phrase used by Amanda Waller, but it doesn’t make any sense in the context of the villain of the film. Defeating an ancient witch who’s about to destroy the world isn’t a job for the Suicide Squad. Most of them aren’t even super-powered and are therefore useless in the fight anyway. The Squad here are turned into heroes by the end, which is a total waste of 1) the idea of a Suicide Squad and 2) the villains we all know from the comics. Why not explore their villainy and psychosis instead of watering it down?
EDIT: I get Waller by getting the Squad to rescue her from Midtown is her way of covering up her involvement in Enchantress ‘escape’ in the first place, therefore she couldn’t trust using ‘good-guys’. But this is after she’s already formed Task Force X to take down ‘an evil Superman’. I stand by my point that the Suicide Squad is completely obsolete in that situation.
My other issue is that the characters were humanised too much. This isn’t Guardians of the Galaxy. These guys aren’t just people who’ve done a few cheeky things. They’re not rogues. They’re fucking psychopaths and murderers. Explore that. Show us how fucked up they are. The whole tag line for the advertising was ‘Worst heroes ever’ which from the off showed a total lack of understanding of these characters. They’re not heroes and they should never have been portrayed as such. It feels like the execs really bottled it.
Speaking of villains, Cara Delevingne’s Enchantress is a dull character who wants to destroy the world, just because. The plot is so straightforward, with the baddie lacking any real motivation and that would be fine if the film was actually fun or if any of the characters actually had any sort of depth to them (see Stark Trek Beyond).
Let’s get on to the Joker or whatever that was. I should say that I didn’t have any issues with Leto’s performance. He was creepy and I quite liked his voice. But that wasn’t the Joker. Nothing about that character was the Joker. The Joker is a terrifying unpredictable psychopath. Jared Leto played a gangster, with not much else to his character. I feel like we didn’t get any sense of what Leto’s Joker actually is, because he only gets around 10 minutes of screentime. It’s been revealed now that a lot of Leto’s scenes were cut from the final film so maybe we got more of his character in the original script. The look, I wasn’t a big fan of. I don’t like the tattoos and the jewellery. It all feels a bit too vain for the Joker. Like I said, I’m not blaming Leto for that, it’s David Ayers misunderstanding of these characters. If Joker is in your film, he’s got to be a big part and to have him on the fringes, disappearing for most of it is just a waste. I’d like to see what Leto does with a decent script written by somebody who has actually read an issue of Batman, though. Batfleck, you’re my only hope.
Sticking with the Joker and the aspect of the film I was looking forward to most was his relationship with Harley. But it just wasn’t fleshed out. I wanted to see her decent into madness, but we don’t get a chance to get inside the psyche of these characters. I wanted to see the Joker and Harley play off each other. And we don’t get any of that really.
Tonally, this film is all over the place. Bad jokes mixed with some genuinely disturbing moments leave it feeling like it’s having an identity crisis. This film was promised to subvert the superhero genre in a way that hadn’t been done before. And I feel like that was the original idea, only for DC and Warner Bros. to back out. This is a film that reeks of post production melding to ‘fix’ elements. This is what happens when you (apparently) only give your writer/director 6 weeks to write a script. The pacing too, was totally off.
Speaking of of being tonally off, there’s two moments in the film where women get punched in the face, which are played for laughs. C’mon guys it’s 2016.
So where does this leave the DCEU? This was the film supposed to get us back on track (have we been on track?). There’s no obvious tone or direction. There’s no confidence in what they’re doing and as a result everything is totally jumbled. There’s great bits and terrible bits. But in this film, it feels like they’ve edited out everything that might have been interesting and put in some shit jokes and generic plot points. Where Batman v Superman had too much going on, they’ve done the opposite here. It’s pretty linear with a few flashbacks but there are no risks taken. No character exploration. To make a generic, dull film with characters such as the Joker and Harley Quinn, two iconic DC villains, in the mix is unforgivable. It’s such a missed opportunity. And for that I’m genuinely gutted.
FORGETTABLE. Not particularly bad (except Killer Croc) but generally generic and quite dull, Suicide Squad manages to waste some of DCs iconic villains and turn them into pseudo-heroes which results in a missed opportunity.