Poor, poor DC Entertainment. Since Christopher Nolan’s departure from their cinematic playground DC has had a rough go of it. 2013’s “Man of Steel” faced more than its share of scrutiny. This year’s “Batman vs Superman” was the fashionable punching bag for both critics and many viewers alike even prior to its release. Now we have “Suicide Squad”, a DC attempt at being subversive and unique while also bowing to the overblown criticisms regarding the serious tones employed by the first two films.
Here’s the problem, critics have greeted “Suicide Squad” with the harshest reception yet (and that’s saying something). To give you a taste, “trash”, “toxic”, “unpleasant”, “disastrous”, “sadistic”, and “putrid” are just a handful of the colorful terms used by critics to describe David Ayer’s supervillain antihero ensemble piece.
I would love to dismiss all of the negativity as smug nonsense or as some form of bias against the DCEU. Unfortunately the film itself doesn’t allow me to do that. “Suicide Squad” may not deserve to be called “putrid” or “toxic”, but it should be called out for its host of faults, annoyances, and its flat-out shoddy execution in nearly every department.
I’m a generally positive guy and I tend to give a movie more credit for its fun factor and unique vision. I’m not sure you could call “Suicide Squad” a fun movie. It certainly wants to be colorful, funny, and cool. At times it seems like Ayers has convinced himself his film is all of those things. But a bright, fluorescent title screen is about as colorful as it gets, and you can count the mildly amusing moments on one hand. Also someone should tell Ayers that it takes more than a crazy amount of classic rock, a smattering of tattoos, and Will Smith’s attitude to be considered “cool”.
As for a unique vision, nope. Aside from its ‘bad guys doing good’ angle (something that isn’t completely original itself), “Suicide Squad” doesn’t offer a single unique idea. The story is so poorly constructed and presented through such base level storytelling. Devious government operative Amanda Waller (played with stone-faced disinterest by Viola Davis) wants to create a covert strike team made up of metahuman criminals. There just happens to be a bunch at a high-security prison installation. A weird, out-of-the-blue threat arrives. It’s time for her team of misfits to get to work. It’s as simple as that.
To be fair, Ayers does try to add a hint of depth to the team. His bigger stars get their own weird backstory snapshot at the beginning of the film. Will Smith plays Deadshot, a lethal assassin who hits everything he shoots at. Margot Robbie play’s Harley Quinn, an ex-psychiatrist who has a freakishly dysfunctional relationship with Jared Leto’s Joker (more on him in a second). Everyone else gets their own flashback shoehorned in at random junctures, but they’re more or less disposable. Killer Croc, Katana, Boomerang, whatever.
And then there is Joker, the character most people were talking about prior to release. The marketing would have you believe he is a significant player in the story but that’s not the case. He simply pops up in a few scenes mostly connected to Harley and then in a couple that feel completely disconnected. As for the Joker himself, I do give Leto credit for trying to put a unique spin on the character. But I have to say I hate the grillz, the tattoos, and the jewelry. He reminded me of James Franco from “Springbreakers”. Beyond that Leto isn’t given much space to present his version. We do get small glimpses of DC’s greatest villain, but not enough. This simply isn’t a Joker I care about watching.
While there are a few energetic moments and a fun performance from Robbie, “Suicide Squad” mostly maintains a generic look and feel throughout. A bland story, uninteresting chemistries, a boring and ridiculously lame central threat. But what stands out the most is how poorly this film is made. Bad pacing, horribly chopped-up story structure, and dull forgettable action. Every hint of what the film could have been is buried under a ton of poor execution. It clearly does a lot of box-checking for its studio, but in doing so it forgets to do the most important thing – make a good movie.
VERDICT – 1.5 STARS