Suicide Squad Review
This movie, it’s just a mess. It might be an enjoyable mess for some, but it’s still just a mess. There’s all this talk about how the critics hate DC movies and how it’s so much better than what the critics are saying. Honestly it is as bad as what the critics are saying, it’s a badly put together movie with a generic plot and it utterly wastes the majority of its characters. There’s just enough things that are “fun” that some fans can latch onto and ride out for the rest of the movie. But having fun parts doesn’t mean it’s a good well put together movie. Liking flawed movies isn’t bad, but the critics aren’t wrong for pointing out those flaws either.
The plot of this movie is that Amanda Waller wants to put together a black ops team of supervillains in order to face any possible new meta-human threat now that Superman is dead. Before the team is even assembled one of their number, the Enchantress, slips away and tries to end the world. So Waller sends in the rest of the Suicide Squad. Then it plays out like a bog standard action movie.
But the movie isn’t about a big flashy plot, it’s about the characters. Well two of them at least. Out of the nine Squad members (Deadshot, Harley Quinn, Captain Boomerang, Slipknot, El Diablo, Killer Croc, Katana, Rick Flagg, and Enchantress) the movie is only interested in Deadshot and Harley. They’re the main characters, they get the entire focus. El Diablo get some small stuff towards the end, some shoved in character backstory that tries to give him something before his big moment in the final fight, but he’s such a non-entity before then. Flagg’s only real thing is that he loves the woman Enchantress has possessed, and that’s it really. Enchantress only wants to destory/rule the world, that’s the beginning and end of her character, and she’s not on screen enough to become an interesting villain. Slipknot is just there for canon fodder, the movie never tries to hide this fact, he dies so quickly after he’s introduced it’s almost funny. And Boomerang, Croc, and Katana might as well not be in the movie. It’s not just a lack of screen time, they get a lack of pretty much anything. All their lines, their character moments, anything these three ever had feel like they were removed from the film. Though there are reports that Boomerang’s removed character moments were just him “hitting on Katana with racist and sexist remarks,” so that’s no loss. It wouldn’t surprise me if those other lost character moments were equally as stupid and terrible.
Deadshot and Harley are done wonderfully, and along with Amanda Waller the big highlights of the movie, it’s just very obvious that the movie has been edited to only really focus on them. The movie opens with what at first looks like a montage of scenes of the Squad in prison, but it turns out to only be Deadshot and Harley scenes. In this very hasty edit Deadshot gets three introduction scenes, Harley gets two, and the rest are lucky to get one. It just feels like no one was confident in those other characters, that the executives wanted to push the only things likely to get a positive audience reaction, Will Smith and Harley Quinn. It’s no surprise fans are walking out of the cinema saying Deadshot and Harley were the best things in the movie, they were the only characters given focus in it.
But this is a movie that only wants one-note characters. No one has a character arc in this film, no one develops, no one even gets time devoted to them to allow for any development. At best you could say Diablo has an arc, if you look at it through a microscope to try and piece together all the bits that were cut out from it. Because of this one-note choice for the characters they fall back on stereotypes to fill them out a bit more. So instead of filling out the characters so they move beyond those stereotypes they are just left as stereotypes and hoping that’s good enough for the audience.
The one thing I found pretty cool and surprisingly well done at the start was the Enchantress. Her costume’s a bit horrible in all of the promo shots and cast posters, but in the film it isn’t that noticeable. The special effects cover it up a bit and the camera isn’t focused on showing you how “sexy” she looks, unlike with Harley. There’s just a great Japanese horror movie vibe to her, how she moves and teleports, how she possesses people, it’s done in a very creepy way. When her brother first possesses people at the subway platform it looks like something straight out of a horror movie. Sadly that ascetic gets completely dropped from the film after that. Enchantress even gets a power upgrade from her brother that changes her outfit into an even more revealing one that isn’t covered by special effects. It’s a shame as a ‘supervillains fighting against a Japanese horror movie’ could’ve been an interesting film. Maybe that was the plan and the rest of the horror elements got cut out. Or possibly not, we won’t know for sure.
The editing was just horrible, just shockingly bad. It’s all quick cuts, everything cuts so fast it’s easy to lose your bearing on the film. No time to stop, breathe, and develop some characters, everything is just frantic. There’s a moment when the Squad gets the call to action, and it just cuts to Rick Flagg in full gear on the mission with Enchantress. I thought they’d skipped over the Squad gearing up scenes, since the editing was that bad, but it’s actually stupider than that. The scene is that Enchantress betrays Flagg and teleports away, and we get another quick cut to see the rest of the Squad gearing up and getting briefed for the mission. It seemed that when Waller said to send in the Squad what she and the film meant was ‘send in Flagg and Enchantress only’ but decided not to say that because it’d make sense. The scene was obviously longer as an extended version is shown later on in the movie in flashback. There are just lots of poor editing choices like that throughout the movie.
The only real good scene in the movie, where the Squad as a whole actually gets to talk to each other as a group for the first time, is in the bar near the very end. It’s just a nice quiet character building scene. But even that has obviously been hacked up in the edit as one of the trailers shows off the intro of the bar scene that was cut out of the final movie. So even their one good scene that’s allowed to breathe and be at a slower pace was cut down and edited because everything needs to be fast paced in this movie. There’s a bit at the end of it, when Flagg destroys their neck bomb detonator, and Captain Boomerang bolts out of the building as quick as he can. He wants out of all this craziness and doesn’t even say goodbye. Then, not even a minute later, the rest of the team decides to save the world and they do their big hero walk in slow motion, only to be joined by Captain Boomerang. There’s no reason why he’s come back to join them, no sudden character change that makes him want to risk his life to save the world. It’s random, stupid, and obvious there was a cut scene of him changing his mind.
The first half of this movie is where I’ve seen a lot of the praise go, and it is a little understandable. That half is the one most like the trailers, filled with pop songs and quirky edits. It’s also the more annoying half of the movie. The songs are just shoved in there, don’t really work with the scenes and the actions, and are annoyingly loud. Some of them are so loud they drown out the dialogue that we’re meant to hear. It’s clear that this editing team only have experience working on trailers and have no clue how to properly edit a movie. None of it really worked and it just felt like it was trying to hard.
The second half isn’t better either, all of the pop songs and quirky editing just drop out entirely. It’s like they blew their load and ran out of pop songs at the start and couldn’t afford to license any more for the rest of the film. The second half is just a bland and poorly edited action movie, just very dull with nothing interesting going on. They even fight rejected Power Ranger goons that splatter when they get hit. It’s almost funny that this supposed “edgy” and “gritty” movie about villains and “bad guys being sent to do bad things” is too scared to have them kill people. They just get to fight literal faceless minions that all look like they’re made out of mud. Batman and Superman kill more people than this group of villains. The script wants you to remember that they’re bad guys but doesn’t actually want to show them doing bad guy things in the movie. The most we get are the flashbacks at the beginning to before they were caught, but even then those were pretty sanitary, Deadshot kills a guy for money, Boomerang kills his partner while robbing a bank. It’s just doing the laziest things to get the audience to root for these characters while telling them they’re totally the baddest of the bad guys.
There’s been a lot of talk about how Warner Brothers saw the positive reaction to the trailers and then had the film changed to reflect the trailers. Even going so far as to have those same trailer editors re-edit the movie. Now the question is whether the original cut of the movie was ever that great, because the fan narrative is that ‘DC films aren’t bad, they just get screwed up in the editing room.’ Same thing happened to Batman V Superman Dawn of Justice, when the “3 hour Ultimate Cut” was released fans were saying how much better it was and that no one would be complaining about the movie if that version was shown in cinemas. Except the 3 hour version is still a piece of crap, it just added some extra scenes to two subplots but didn’t make them or the film any better. So did WB make a good film bad here or just a bad film worse, that’s ultimately the question we’ll probably never get an answer to. Unlike the Batman V Superman Ultimate Cut, which was just an extended version of the movie, the directors cut of Suicide Squad sounds very different than the cut shown in cinemas. Releasing that cut would be WB admitting they screwed up in the editing room and messed up this $175 million movie, rather than ‘here’s scenes we had to cut out for time’ from Batman V Superman.
The other big talking point was Jared Leto’s Joker. For over a year now we’ve been hearing reports that Leto has been getting so involved in the role, the method acting driving him to dark places, and it being the darkest version of the Joker so far. Even reports of him being a massive creep and all-around asshole on the set, including sending dead pigs, used condoms, and anal beads, to the cast and crew, and a live rat to Margot Robbie. He’d supposedly dug so deep he’d become the Joker himself. Then the movie comes out and he has about ten minutes of screen time, total. More over his performance is more like that of a bog standard TV “gangsta” leader than anything resembling the Joker. Take away the white make-up and the green hair and there’d be nothing of the Joker in this movie. There really is nothing that makes him the Joker in this movie, not even one single laugh. He’s not even one of those good TV “gangsta” types, he’s that annoying one that you hope gets killed quickly and doesn’t show up in the episode again. No amount of supposed deleted scenes could make this performance good or interesting, or anything other than lame and boring.
Now Harley’s relationship with the Joker that was a real embarrassment, and a complete and total misunderstanding of what that relationship is. The film should not be trying to have the audience root for them, or think they’re a cute couple, or want to see them reunited, or feel sad at Harley thinking the Joker is dead. In every other piece of media the Joker mentally and physically abuses Harley and she has stockholm syndrome so she deludes herself into thinking everything is fine. Deluded into thinking that he truly loves her, and hitting her is his way of expressing it. Even the cartoons, the ones for children, understand this point and made that perfectly clear. This movie however did not. Their relationship is played as romantic, with no hints at abuse, they’re just two crazy kids in love. Warner Brothers has just put out a movie romanticising an abusive relationship, they’re even selling bracelets with them on it saying “Relationship Goals.”
This is not something new with the Harley fandom as there are a not so insignificant amount of abuse apologists that love the Harley/Joker ship. Making posts, memes, t-shirts, the works, about how they want to find a “Joker to their Harley.” Saying how much more “romantic” it is than things like Romeo and Juliet and any other iconic romance. It’s really creepy to see women say they want to find a man who will beat them up, torture them, and psychologically break them down until they are nothing but a punching bag for their man. And Warner Brothers has just made a movie giving them the thumbs up, saying the Harley/Joker ship is something to idolise.
It’s funny that in the last few years DC has actually backed off from the Harley/Joker ship, breaking the two up for good. Even going so far as to have some cathartic release by having Harley break into Arkham and beat up the Joker to show that she’s not his punching bag anymore. She won’t be coming back to him ever again and is moving on to an actual healthy relationship. But now in a movie that’d be seen more than a million Harley Quinn comics ever will WB are not just taking the character a step back, they are obliterating her entire character with an orbital bombardment.
So that was Suicide Squad. It’s certainly better than Batman V Superman, at the very least it’s not as boring as Batman V Superman. There’s some things in there that could be enjoyed, just don’t expect much out of anyone not named Deadshot or Harley Quinn. But it is just a poorly edited bland and boring action movie. It’s trying too hard to make audiences think it’s Guardians of the Galaxy, but most of the “jokes” are just regular action movie banter, low quality banter at that. Director David Ayer said this about the movie, “You know, all these movies are about defeating the evil alien robot from fucking Planet X, before it destroys the world with its ticking clock. And who the fuck cares? But you do a story about struggle and isolation and people who have been shit on, that suddenly get thrown this lifeline… that’s not so bad. I like to think of this as Comic-Book Movie 2.0.” That’s the funniest joke about this movie, the director thought he was making a great new visionary film that’d reinvent the Comic-Book Movie genre, and all he did was make the most bland and generic movie he could possibly make. It even is about the very thing he was mocking, “stopping the evil alien witch before it destroys the world with its ticking clock.”
Who the fuck cares, indeed.