Suicide Squad: The film fans needed, not the one wanted (review)

The film that many comic book fans have been anticipating is finally here! The tale of a group of misfits, that society deemed dangerous, primarily comprised of an unhinged yet surprisingly capable female character with daddy issues, a hulking beast with anger issues, a wild and impulsive egotist obsessed with his own weapons, all led by their gun-toting criminal-turned-antihero, who happens to have had family issues. Yup, ladies and gentlemen, I’m talking about Guardians of the Gala-wait; no, that’s not right. I’m actually talking about DC’s own ace in the hole film of the year, Suicide Squad.

Directed by David Ayer, the films chronicles the creation of one of DC’s most famous group of characters, as intelligence officer Amanda Waller (Viola Davis) decides to assemble a team of dangerous, incarcerated supervillains for a top-secret mission. Figuring it has nothing to lose, the U.S. government supplies weapons to Deadshot (Will Smith), Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie), Captain Boomerang (Jai Courtney) and other despicable inmates. Dubbed the Suicide Squad, the united criminals must defeat a mysterious and powerful entity while contending with the antics of the diabolical Joker (Jared Leto).

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Ok, let’s start this off with what we like to call the “Sandwich Approach.” For those that aren’t familiar, the “Sandwich Approach” is the method of conveying information in a manner where you begin with the good, then the bad, and end with some more good. Sadly, this is going to be a pretty crappy sandwich with really thin bread, but hey, this is what we do! The film starts off with an entertaining intro, as the film jumps right in to the scene that many people have seen over and over again from the trailers and TV spots: the scene where Amanda Waller is explaining her program and the people she wants in it. The only difference is the elaboration of each character, giving stats and a brief backstory of the baddies. Here is where things get a bit muddy; I liked the introduction, but you can definitely tell that it was one of the re-shot scenes. Similar to the way GotG gives a brief introduction to the characters while they’re getting processed for prison, the scene plays out like a silly and whimsical compilation of scenes for each character, incorporating the color scheme of the latest logo design to each character profile. Mind you, the logo change that has occurred with this film is a whole other discussion on its own, as it has changed so much, along with the reshoots, possibly in hopes of lightening the overall tone of the film. Take a look:

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Before (left) and final (right)

Some of the other bright spots of the film were some of the characters. Some. One of the things I had hope for in this film was to see classic Will Smith on the screen, and it delivers…somewhat. Will Smith hasn’t really been a part of anything humorous in a few years, and by humorous, I’m not just talking about little bits here and there, but I’m talking Independence Day-Men in BlackFresh Prince of Bel-Air kind of funny. A project that looks like he’s having fun, from beginning to end. In this film, Will definitely gets to stretch out and take some laps around his funny side, going back to his roots of comedy and one-liners. The problem for me, however, was that it was just him. He didn’t have anyone to bounce the humor off of, and so without anyone to reciprocate, the jokes sort of fell flat sometimes, even though they had the potential to be hilarious. So when Will makes a funny quip after goading El Diablo to finally use his powers, telling him that he was just trying to get him there, the joke falls flat, as no one else picks it up and responds. His humor ends up becoming those moments when you’re at a party, and someone says something, and you think of something funny to say, but don’t say it, so it’s just funny to you, and now your smiling, but people think it’s awkward that you’re smiling, or maybe their looking at the booger hanging from your nose, and you wipe your nose, and…where was I? I lost my train of thought, but his humor just tends to get lost in translation, making it unfortunately unnecessary to even be done at times. But despite all this, his portrayal of Deadshot was pretty great, from his mannerisms, to his familiarity with all the weapons he had at his disposal. Will made it look like he had been shooting guns all his life, and did so with so much ease.

Another character that had an opportunity to shine was Margot Robbie’s Harley Quinn. I thought her role as the Joker’s queen was pretty well done. Speaking of which, let’s just get this out of the way: Jared Leto’s Joker was meh. I don’t say that to knock it, at all. I say that to the response that he doesn’t get enough screen time to actually give a valid assessment of his character. Altogether, he probably has a grand total of maybe 5-10 minutes of screen time, even though he’s plastered on all the posters. You don’t engage with him enough to get a good enough feel for his character, and sadly, I can honestly say that his role in the film was very unnecessary. He doesn’t add to the film as much as he could’ve, as his role is just to build the foundation of Harley’s backstory, and a failed rescue attempt. If they had left a little bit more anonymity to his character, not showing what fans might fully expect from the clown prince of crime, himself, and not just glimpses of his true madness, you may have had a lot more to offer fans in upcoming films that will include him. Either way, meh. So back to Robbie! Her performance as Harleen Quinzel stood above other iterations of the character, as she wasn’t just arm candy for the Joker in the film. She totally stood her own, and gave gravitas to the idea that Harley Quinn truly belongs on the team. Her ability to contribute to the battles, as well as show her insanity, was done really well. I’m actually looking forward to seeing her more in future DC films.

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The music was another aspect that I wasn’t too over the top about, but I didn’t despise it. Yes, there are many similarities between the two films, as Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy took the world by storm, introducing a motley crew of characters, cast aside by society, coming together to fight a common threat for the sake of the greater good, all to the soundtrack of our youth (or at least, our parent’s youth). Suicide Squad not only took a page out of Guardians playbook, but it seemed like it ripped out whole chapters, as the film attempts to mirror not only the look, but also the feel and sound, using another grab bag selection of music hits from all eras to help create the ambiance of each scene. To their credit, their plagiarism only went as far as using just one song from the GotG soundtrack – Spirit in the Sky by Norman Greenbaum – as Suicide Squad‘s soundtrack held a broader range of era’s, as well as genres, of songs, from Skrillex, Lil’ Wayne, Action Bronson, and Creedence Clearwater Revival. I thought the film’s music really added to the film, and help build a better understanding of the overall vibe. To what extent, though, Marvel fans will argue about the similarity is still to be questioned.

Now, the bad. That “Sandwich Approach,” remember? The film’s plot was…difficult. It seemed to have been thrown together with ideas on a dart board. You have several different things the film wants you to focus on, then tells you, “Hey! You’re supposed to watching this part, remember?” I can’t remember a single moment of the film where I felt that the story had consistency, and I had to force myself to hold tight to the titular characters, and whatever arc they were supposed to have in the film. From beginning to end, it felt like there was once a grand and glorious story, and along the way, they decided to add some of this, and some of that, and presto! They got crap. Another fault of the film was how odd the antagonist was. From the looks of the trailer, I was hoping that maybe it could’ve been possibly Steppenwolf, from the scenes in the subway. But nope. The bad guy – or should I say, bad girl – in the film was none other than the Enchantress. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, the character that many fans were excited to see come to life and do her voodoo, fought on the other side. And I don’t mean the other side, where the Squad was, but the other side, other side. She did the least on screen out of all the characters in the film, and gave a very odd performance. The majority of her onscreen antics were comprised of looking spooky – which I did like her look – in each scene, and doing a shimmy dance to produce the swirling cloud of electricity and garbage in the sky. She didn’t do much action until the very end, and even then it was just a quick 10 minute fight that consisted of strobe lights and slow motion CGI-filled scenes. I wouldn’t have minded having her as the antagonist, but at least give her an opportunity to really stretch her arms out and show her powers. I wasn’t impressed, to say the least.

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There’s a lot to really fill in this article about what’s not cool, and what disappointed fans, according to other critics, but I don’t want to do that. Many outlets are just totally destroying the film, even going as far as stating that it was worse than BVS. That is totally bogus. As much as this film dropped the ball in terms of its place in cinema, I think it is definitely a step forward for the DCCU, even if it’s a small step. Suicide Squad, although riddled with inconsistencies, squared its shoulders and stepped up to the DCCU plate, giving fans the film they needed 4 months ago. I think that, overall, the film is one that you should see, at least once, and see where it will all begin, as I feel that this is the film that will get the DC Cinematic Universe started. Despite all the weird promotions and reshoots that reshaped what ever compilation of celluloid they had in the canisters, Suicide Squad has become quite possibly the most palatable film in the DCCU thus far.

Rating: 2.5/5 atoms

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Eddie Villanueva Jr.
Eddie Villanueva Jr. 310 posts

A movie connoisseur of only the finest films, and an Encyclopod of geek and nerd knowledge. And if you know what an Encyclopod is, you're cool too!