Movie Review: “Suicide Squad” – So That’s It?

Written by Jesse Gelinas August 07, 2016

Harley Quinn and Deadshot in Suicide Squad

Well the one on the left is obviously here for cheerleading tryouts.

I think we can all agree that Marvel kind of has the superhero genre by the short and curlies. They have three Avengers & Company films scheduled per year between now and Armageddon. After the moderate success of Man Of Steel, DC has been dying to cut themselves a slice of that sweet action. After all, Marvel is basically family-fun incarnate. DC can just corner the adult and gritty market, right? Well, the ho-hum reception of Batman v Superman says otherwise. So, having Suicide Squad already in the pipeline was maybe a bad idea. The team who cut this flick’s trailers together need an award, because what they sold and what we got are two different films.

Suicide Squad picks up shortly after the events of Batman v Superman. Superman is dead, and the government is panicking. What if the next meta-human to show up isn’t so keen on truth, justice, and the American way? Enter Amanda Waller (Viola Davis), with a tremendous plan to use a team of imprisoned criminals as a covert task force. In a stroke of bad luck, an ancient spirit (Cara Delevingne) possesses a young woman and goes rogue, threatening to destroy the planet with a magical machine of destruction. It’s up to the Suicide Squad to enter the city, rescue a VIP, and stop the Enchantress before the whole world goes up.. it’s just as lame and stale as it sounds.

“… some kind of Suicide Squad?”

Let’s start with the good. Suicide Squad looks awesome. The characters all have distinct looks and styles, the action is intense and relatively well-shot. Watching Will Smith blast mutated soldiers with his wrist-cannon is a super good time. The first time the Enchantress makes an appearance, there’s this cool effect of her hand clasping her possessed host’s, and sort of flipping them inside out, all very slick. There is good direction here, but it’s only allowed to shine for brief moments before getting bogged down in the film’s only indulgence, and falling away back to the cliches of the genre that the film was supposed to be avoiding.

Enchantress in Suicide Squad

Enchantress, the Suicide Squad’s first major challenge

The Squad itself is very well cast. Deadshot (Will Smith) and Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie) obviously stand out, as they’re given more attention between the two of them than the rest of the cast combined, but that is to be expected with a team of B-players. Rick Flagg (Joel Kinnaman) is a competent lead for tor the Squad. El Diablo (Jay Hernandez) is actually the most interesting character, and gives a really solid performance, but he is still only given short scenes in which to really shine. Killer Croc (Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje) and Captain Boomerang (Jai Courtney) are both just sort of there. Croc has about 3 lines in the whole movie, a shame because his makeup and prosthetics were really impressive.

“I recommend not getting killed by her.”

The biggest story going into the film was Jared Leto’s Joker. Post-release it seems like a real bait-and-switch, as Joker himself appears in less than 10 minutes of screen time, mostly flashbacks. His role in the movie was reportedly cut significantly with roughly a half hour of unused scenes. as it stands, his entire role is to sort of explain Harley’s, and occasionally try to rescue her. The abusive nature of their relationship is completely absent, making it seem like he truly is just head-over-heels for her. Leto’s Joker has the crazy down pat, but what’s missing, oddly enough, is the joke side of Joker. Joker has always been a funny character. This one seemingly has zero sense of humour. I understand wanting to be dark and edgy, but the humour is necessary. Even if it’s not funny to us, it should be funny to him. There are a number of odd choices in this Joker incarnation, and it makes me worry for his future against Affleck’s Batsy.

The Joker (Jared Leto) in Suicide Squad

Leto is a little too no-nonsense for the Clown-Prince of Crime.

Where the film really fails is, well, unfortunately, it’s the entire story. I won’t harp on the pacing as some have. The slower scenes of walking and talking were where the best character interactions and dialogue occurred. But, honestly, do we need another superhero movie where our ragtag team squares off against an overpowered villain bent on destroying the planet with a giant light-machine in the sky? Enchantress shows up and immediately decides to destroy Earth, so of course she builds a machine. The machine is of course a swirling vortex of light and trash above the city, and of course the Suicide Squad has to face her in hand-to-hand combat to shut it down. It’s BORING. We’ve seen this before. Man of Steel had the world engine, BvS had Doomsday absorbing nuclear energy. Suicide Squad needed something different. What DC really needed was a scaled back, personal story. Send the Squad on an actual mission; a rescue, a heist, sabotage; not another “let’s band together and stop this half-assed light show.” It’s lazy writing, and it’s making the superhero genre stale. And wasn’t Suicide Squad supposed to be something fresh? Even the heroic team of baddies get tiresome after a while. Soon, the only reason we know they’re bad guys is because they keep telling us.

“Would you die for me? No, no, no, that’s too easy. Would you live for me?”

Suicide Squad suffers from a lack of bite to go with its bark, and a sad attempt at edginess which unknowingly becomes a sad rehash of everything it was rebelling against. “Worst. Heroes. Ever.” That was the selling point. What we got was Guardians Of The Galaxy-lite, right down to a shoehorned classic rock soundtrack (which worked for Guardians, not here). This is just DC treading water right now, when they had a chance to finally break some new ground. I understand that Marvel is the machine right now, but if you’re going to send in the devils to break it down, start by making sure they aren’t just angels in disguise. This is barely worth our time.

My Rating: 5.5/10

Theatrical poster for Suicide Squad

 

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About Jesse Gelinas

After years attempting to escape the Matrix, Jesse has accepted his fate as a writer and Senior Editor. Now that's he finished with his film degree, it gives him something to do while waiting for the machines to get careless.

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