REVIEW: “Suicide Squad”

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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.

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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”.

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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.

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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

1.5 stars

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41 thoughts on “REVIEW: “Suicide Squad”

  1. I really thought that this would be the film to turn the DCEU around. While I enjoyed this in a guilty pleasure sense, it’s definitely not something I would call a “good” film, mainly because of the choppy editing. Great review, as always.

    • Thanks man. I was sorely disappointed in this one. And I’m a guy who really liked BvS (one of the few, I know). I had concerns about SS but still expected more than this.

  2. Oh whoa I wasn’t expecting the 1.5 haha! I think it deserves it though; I don’t think I brought up the point about the choppily edited story in my own piece but I absolutely should have. The opening sequence where all the characters get little intros in a matter of a 10-minute span, I was like, “Uh-oh.” Their introductions are so rushed but then for some reason we get re-introduced to Deadshot and Harley Quinn on a number of occasions. Or what felt like re-introductions as the story just went all over the place.

    I think I’m going to go easier on David Ayer, I respect his directorial style and the subjects he focuses on. I think Suicide Squad epitomizes studio interference and it’s just . . . well, damn them.

    • I think you’re right. This has Studio meddling written all over it. I would love to know to what extent though. There are just so many problems with it. At times I was amazed with how clunky it was particularly with its storytelling. And am I the only one who thought Leto was channeling James Franco’s Alien from “Springbreakers”?

      • Now that you mention it I totally see that, but it wasn’t something I saw initially. I liked him actually. Then again anything Leto does now is gold for me. Lest we forget this is the lead singer from a super teen-oriented band 30 Seconds to Mars . . .

  3. Wow….you gave it a low score! I think this movie will be forever spilt on why people liked / disliked it. To me, it had an interesting premise (the team), a great soundtrack, and some great acting (especially from Smith, Davis, and Robbie). However, with the plot being thin, too many characters, and not living up to the hype, Suicide Squad personally was a let down. That being said, I am more of a Marvel fan than DC one, so I may be a bit biased.

    • Thanks for the comments Jason. Man I just couldn’t shake my frustrations with it. And I had hopes for it. I’m one of the few who really liked BvS. This one felt so incredibly clunky and so poorly executed. I too liked the soundtrack but so many of the songs seemed wedged in without much context. And I agree on Robbie. She gets Harley Quinn right. I would say she is my bright spot.

      • Yeah, I agree with on the song. Yes, I loved them, but maybe a bit too much here and there. Like you, I did have high hopes for this movie (being the last big blockbuster type of the summer). To me, wasn’t worth the hype.

      • And it’s a shame. There is a good concept here and I feel this team could have a cool place within the DCEU. I’m hoping something can be salvaged from it that would keep some of these characters around. I had read where Robbie has hired screenwriters to help her with an original script focused on Harley. I’ll be interested to see if that gains some traction.

  4. I’m going to wait for this on TV unless a different cut of the film is released as I’m sure there was something there but the people at Warner Brothers got scared and fucked it all up for everyone. Wonder Woman better be good or else Warner Brothers is FUCKED!

  5. I was so excited hearing about the production of this movie, but when I saw the trailer I got worried. I don’t think you can feel too bad for DC, they decided to create the DCEU without any proven track record of success. Makes you realize that what Marvel is doing is actually difficult.

    Ethan, Cineflek
    http://cineflek.com/

    • Thanks for the comments. There was a touch of sarcasm in my “Poor DC” comment. I still hold out out hope for them. I do love many of DC’s characters and I liked BvS a lot more than most. But this thing completely misses its mark. Such a disappointment.

      • Yeah, I love the characters as well, especially the villains! Which is why Suicide Squad so painfully missed the mark. There’s a piece of me that’s hoping for the whole DC movie project to fail, so the studios start being more creative, like they did in the 70’s, but that’s probably not gonna happen…

      • Probably not. As long as studio heads see such massive potential dollars they are going to continue the course. I do like that DC has promoted Geoff Johns as head of their team. He has a firm and reliable reputation in comics so I’m hoping he can get this ship back on track.

  6. When the early reviews came out it made me hesitant to watch it in theaters. But I figure I’d watch it and decide for myself. I think there are some things I slightly liked a bit more than you. But man, there are a whole lot of flaws. The funny thing is I think the concept itself still has potential, just needs a clear vision, much better story, etc.

    • Thanks for the thoughts Eddie. It does leave you believing their is a good concept there. I completely agree. But with this one being so bad, I’m not certain where it goes. It’s only hope at a second chance would seem to be the box office. But it had a huge drop off in its second week so I don’t know. Hate to see the idea completely wasted.

    • Robbie was the one shining light, wasn’t she. I was amazed at times with how well she nails down Harley. I just hate that she seems wasted in such a messy movie.

  7. I agree with you…lots of faults here, and to me it felt like a slog to get through as a result. It’s insultingly simple, riddled with generic, bad dialogue, and the action it does contain is really, really dull.

    • Really generic. Really dull. And did you have a problem with its structure? That problem kept coming up for me. So poorly chopped up and pasted together. The flashbacks were often out of the blue and many were so poorly done. And I still say Leto could swap out with James Franco in Springbreakers and no one would know the difference.

      • Definitely – constant flashbacks interrupting the action when there wasn’t any need for them at all, a lack of anything other than origin story/mission, and a really unbalanced emphasis on some characters where others were completely neglected. The Franco comparison is spot on!

  8. Ouch, man!! Another scathing review. I’m not a big superhero fan but I have to admit that I was mildly drawn to this one. That’s all changed now, though. I reckon I’ll be avoiding it. Sounds awful!

    • It’s a stinker. No excuse for how shoddy and poor it executes. I swear it will have you shaking your head. Mark, you won’t be missing anything of lasting value by taking a pass on this thing.

  9. Even though I did enjoy it and gave a higher score (3/5), I agree with every point made. I’ve only seen one David Ayer film and that was Sabotage. I didn’t like it, but I like to believe Ayer is capable of putting together a film much better than what was presented. There was a cool movie lost amongst what appears to be some studio meddling. If you haven’t seen it, I recommend the animated film Assault on Arkham. It is a much better made Suicide Squad film.

    • I haven’t seen Assault on Arkham but I have really wanted to. This one…sigh. I really wanted it to be good but I just couldn’t get past so many things. You’re right though. There has to be a good idea buried in this film and I hate to see it go to waste.

  10. I’m with you on this movie. This is the 2nd time I’ve seen someone compare Joker to Franco in Spring Breakers, I didn’t think of it at the time, but that’s absolutely perfect. I wasn’t a fan of him at all.

  11. Ouch! Another rough review! I was not too bothered about this before it was released, but it looked like it could be a great popcorn watch. With these reviews all over the show, I am super interested in checking it out now just to see what all this is about!

    • You should definitely give it a look to judge for yourself. I was really apprehensive especially after seeing so much negative reaction. But I felt I needed to give it a shot.

  12. Unfortunately this one (like many others in the DCEU) just didn’t live up to all of the hype. Maybe they’ll get it right next time? I’m more of a Marvel fan anyway, so perhaps all my opinions are a little biased! Super thorough review as always, Keith!

    • It has been a rocky road for the DCEU, hasn’t it. I’m still optimistic. They have a made a few significant changes behind the scenes that I hope gets their ship back on track.

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