Breaking down Suicide Squad… with plenty of SPOILERS
The Snooty Ushers are a pretty positive bunch. We like to see the good in everything. We also know the pain of having a horrible moment stick in your mind from a perfectly decent film. Sometimes, writing a simple review isn’t enough. Well, this is the column that will allow us to praise what we like, and vent about what we didn’t.
So, Suicide Squad has been released and, to be honest, we all found it a bit of a mess to say the least. It gives us no pleasure to return to this column for the first time since the muddled X-Men: Apocalypse, but there are things wrong with this film that we want to discuss in more detail than is possible in a review. And yet, there were definite positives to be had from David Ayer’s film. Expect SPOILERS!
Hit the theme tune and let’s get to it!
Viola Davis as Amanda Waller: A great performance, Waller leaves a lasting impression that will make her a major player going forward. We could have DC’s cinematic answer to Nick Fury, and Dan thinks she was the most interesting character in it, and if anything the most despicable.
Will Smith as Deadshot: Deadshot is the leader of this squad, and Will Smith is the star of this film. He is really good as the conflicted hitman who is just trying to do right by his daughter. That’s the character in this film, and Smith plays it well. Whether that’s the right choice for the character… read on.
Margot Robbie as Harley Quinn: She is entertaining as hell. Now, I have serious, serious reservations about the Joker/Quinn relationship that we see in this film (he fries her brain, she has to change completely for him), I’m not totally sure about her costume, and her schtick almost outstays its welcome (plus does her accent wobble a bit?), but I would be lying if I didn’t say I didn’t really enjoy the character.
Jay Hernandez as El Diablo: The heart of the movie, El Diablo is noticeably MIA for most of the films battles as he struggles with what his powers have done to him, and he gets the noble sacrifice at the end. Dan would go as far as saying he is the second most interesting character in the whole film, despite his minimal screen time.
Ike Barinholtz as Griggs: The warden is a lot of fun early on, I was disappointed when he basically disappeared after the first act.
To be honest, most of the cast: They all did well. They needed more time, or we needed fewer of them, but everyone was entertaining. Joel Kinnanmen as Rick Flag, Jai Courtney as Boomerang, Karen Fukuhara as Katana, good job guys.
Ben Affleck as Batman: He’s just really good, isn’t he? Let’s just file all that “Batfleck” stuff alongside the Daniel Craig-“James Blond” hysteria, because right now, he is the sole bright light in the DC Universe. That being said he literally does nothing in the film
Jared Leto as The Joker: It lands in this section because he was different. As a peripheral character, he worked an absolute treat, showing us a different side to The Joker than we have seen before (at least in the films) and being intriguing enough to want to see what happens in a fully fledged film. Not a home run by any stretch (offering up Harley Quinn to another gangster in the night club seemed strange) but just definitely good. Well… not actively bad, at least.
What I like about this Joker is that he takes elements from Heath Ledger’s portrayal and what I believe are elements from Brian Azzarello’s Joker. It feels very much like this Joker is an unhinged gangster. It deviates from the colorful sociopath (clown prince) we are used to. It really adds a new ferocity and unpleasantness to the character. The tattoos and the teeth are the most visually striking. They also have homage of the famous vat of chemical origins.
Having Jared Leto as The Joker: Leto was given SECOND billing in this film. The Joker was all over the marketing. We heard stories of him staying character throughout the shoot and creeping out the cast and crew. And yet, he is a totally superfluous character that could have been removed from the film and have no effect. He only interacts with Harley Quinn (and the prison warden Griggs briefly) but his actual influence on her actions of the course of the film are negligible. Also, being only a peripheral character means he isn’t actually a villain in the narrative, so how the character will do up against Batman still needs to be seen. To be honest, it would have worked better with the Joker as a villain, and seeing an interesting dynamic with how Harley would deal with that.
The Joker lessens his impact in Batman: Imagine this Joker, who we had only heard about in whispered tones, foreboding pronouns and easter eggs being revealed in a Batman stand alone. That would have had an impact. Now though, because we have seen him and he has been forced into a plot where he was not needed this impact is lessened. You are basically showing your hand or prematurely blowing your wad. A waste of an impressive character piece.
Imagine the impact if he had only turned up at the very end to rescue Harley Quinn. I’m just saying…
The Worst Of The Worst?: All of the characters are sympathetic and are pretty much redeemed by the end of the film. El Diablo is a guy who killed his wife and kids, but he is so pitiful and pathetic (and I mean that in the “inspiring sympathy” definition), we feel sorry for him. Will Smith is playing a hitman trying to do right by his daughter. Killer Croc is a monster because “they treat me like a monster”. For a group of characters marketed as “the worst heroes ever”, in a Universe with this version of Batman, they are rather tame.
No violence, no bad language… why exactly was it a 15 certificate? It could have been a 12. This is more apparent when compared to Deadpool, which is supposed to be similar in tone and theme to Suicide Squad: antihero non-conventional superhero/comic book film. Deadpool was rife with comedy, violence, profanity all mixed up to provide an enjoyable and unpredictable film. This was just boring like some generic action. The villains were these mutated beings so they could be destroyed without bleeding, it brings down the violent scenes as its not human brutality. Again like BvS it’s just full of emo, moody dark introspectivity (think I just made that word up). They could have been so creative and subversive but wasted it.
The Marketing Of The Film: Both of the previous items also play into this. It actually crossed over into deliberately misleading, which will lead to a huge opening weekend, but also will leave a lot of people disappointed when The Joker is barely in the film.
The reveal of Amanda Waller as their rescue target : We think this was meant to be a huge shocking twist (the characters reacted that way) but with the world being destroyed by a huge swirling lightning storm thing literally around the corner it was hard to care. And why, oh why was that their mission in the first instance? We know it sucks for the squad, saving the one person who is using them, but surely the use of this highly unpredictable squad should have been to save the world? After all it wasn’t Waller who summoned the squad into action, it was the government/military who she was trying to sell the initiative to.
The Music: To steal a line form someone I watched it with, it’s like someone saying “listen to this cool song”, then skipping to another song after 20 seconds. My response was that it was like each character had entrance music like a wrestler, but we only get the brief version like at the Royal Rumble. Yeah, Harvey’s line was better. I bet the soundtrack album is great. In the film though, it’s a distraction.
Slipknot: Slipwho? You know that random guy thrown into the squad as they get all their gear back, who gets his head blown off when he tries to escape? Yeah him, played by veteran actor Adam Beach, the character is actually called Slipknot and he was totally wasted. The fact he did not get an intro (which really annoyed Dan) signalled his imminent death. Not a major player by any means in the comics, but that scene where he dies plays out a little differently in the comics. Captain Boomerang convinces him the chips are all a trick, but when he tests its limits he only looses his arm. That instance would have been a lot more interesting to see play out on screen as Boomerang and Slipknot had to continue to deal with one another. Also Adam Beach is a damn good actor, why disrespect the character with such a needless inclusion.
The Introduction of the Characters: I liked the bullet point, rapid fire, one-after-the-other introductions with Waller at dinner with the two suits. It was different, and unashamedly saying “we’ve got all of these characters to introduce, and here they are”. But… we also had the pre-title sequences with Deadshot and Harley Quinn. Then we had introductions to each character as Waller went around the prison with Flag. Then they got Flag introducing a few more characters. A sign of the mixed editing process. More on that later. Plus Slipknot got no intro and was just cannon fodder. If you’re going to get an experienced actor like Adam Beach to play him, you might as well give him the same time even if just to make his fate more of a shock.
The Enchantress: The character starts out as very interesting, but once she is released and breaks free from the hold Waller and Flag have over her (I’m not really sure how her brother manages to fix her heart getting stabbed…) she is one of the worst villains in any superhero movie. Like, Thor: The Dark World villain-level. It feels like part of her story was cut out from the very short middle act which might have given her more depth, but “I am going to build a machine to destroy them” is horrendous. And, like the character, Cara Delevingne gets worse throughout the film, interesting in the beginning and (for me at least) cringe-inducingly embarrassing as she sways her hips, flails her arms around, and has a bizarre voice change. I sighed so loudly when she came on screen late in the film that the people sat next to me turned around. She’s that bad.
The Enchantress’s Brother: That type of CGI is absolutely unforgivable in any film that is released in cinemas. As the henchman of the main villain in a $175 million dollar super hero film? It genuinely annoys me that someone working on this film said “that’s good enough”. This isn’t Sharknado 4. One other thing, why on earth would Waller carry around the totem which contained the soul of the Enchantress’s brother? Surely it’s an accident waiting to happen?
The Visual Tone: Now we get not all films should be overly colourful, eye popping or lucid, but this was one heck of an ugly looking film full of grey. It dullness dampened the 3D effects and contrasted horribly with the marketing materials for the film.
The Editing: Now, these sort of things don’t bother me. Action films always seem to have scenes where the sun goes down in about 2 minutes, going from bright sunlight one scene to dead of night the other. But there is a big chunk taken out of the middle of the film, as we get Enchantress explaining exactly what she is going to do, and then she does it, and then her brother lays waste to Midway City… it’s all so rushed. Then there’s my biggest bug bear – feel free to skip onto the next item, I won’t be offended – we see the same scene between Flag and Moon/Enchantress happen twice:
- When Moon and Flag are in the underground/subway station, just before she becomes Enchantress and goes and meets up with her brother and starts building the machine, Flag says to Moon “get it done. Just get it done” or something similar, and she turns into the Enchantress and she goes to her brother…
- BUT later on, when Deadshot confronts Flag, Flag tells the story again and they are in the subway with an entire army unit and the bomb with 2 seconds left on it, which Enchantress flicks and then leaves and joins her brother…
- Now, I assumed this was Flag covering for the fact he let Moon/Enchantress go (he said to Waller something like “I take responsibility for it happening” when she asks how Moon/Enchantress got away)…
- BUT the bomb was actually there.
I am pretty certain one of these scenes was left in by mistake.
The entire concept was messed up: Okay, deep breath… let’s get this out there… I am aware, you have to make changes and adapt, it can’t be like a literal adaptation, it couldn’t work practically or in a narrative sense. But for fuck sake KNOW YOUR SOURCE MATERIAL. I (this is Welshy talking) had a few personal issues with Civil War, because it was lacking something for him on a personal level. Yet I am aware it was a phenomenal film. Like every Marvel film (The MCU only, Fox and Sony films do not count in this instances), good or bad. They have known the character and where they are going. They know the tone of their film. They know what they want from the film and who its aimed at. They know what they are doing. Every film has a auteur quality but it fits into the series franchise or the MCU as whole. Some you like more than others, and some of the concepts are flawed but they all have one.
This doesn’t. It is a story of redemption, an action film, a superhero film, a comedy film, a comic book film that is apparently setting up another film. It has music from different eras and bands, it has magic and guns and government conspiracy and character arcs about finding peace and fatherly love and romantic love. It’s a mess and its packaged as some quirky counterculture hit. Its sole purpose is to cater to fair weather fans and clueless cos-players to try and push what is a car crash of a multiverse. It doesn’t care about building something – just selling something.
And that is our column! Any suggestions for any films – new or old – for us to give The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly treatment, let us know!
Until next time, stay gold, Ponyboy, stay gold. See you soonish.
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