“Suicide Squad” is the third addition to the DC cinematic universe, and it’s a film that I’ve been looking forward to seeing for quite a long time. I was excited by the cast when it was first announced, although at the time we were promised Tom Hardy as opposed to Jai Courtney, and I felt that the premise would fit perfectly with the darker tone that DC aims for (darker than Marvel that is). However, as time passed I became more and more worried by the movie’s development, and this worry was only accentuated by the films that DC churned out in the build up to this one.
Sadly, having seen “Suicide Squad” I can say that it suffers from the same problems as its predecessors, and in fact it’s far worse than the average films which have come before it. “Man of Steel” was poorly paced and lacking a focused narrative, and “Batman v Superman” was overstuffed with characters and plot points, so it’s no surprise that this film retains those problems whilst also adding to them substantially.
There’s something very unsettling about watching a multi-million dollar movie helmed by a competent director and feeling as though you could’ve edited it better than the paid professionals, but that’s the scenario I encountered when I sat down to see “Suicide Squad”. Obviously this thought is farcical because someone with no experience using editing software can’t edit a film to the standard that you see in a big budget blockbuster, but the thought occurs because anyone can delegate and it’s easy to pinpoint the flaws in this film.
With “Suicide Squad” the issues are so clear that they’re practically rubbed in your face throughout; whether it be the lacklustre story, absence of character development, or poor lighting in action sequences. These problems never really leave your mind if you’re paying attention, so personally I couldn’t enjoy what I was watching at any point. Everything could’ve been done better; from performances, direction, cinematography, and lighting, to exposition, dialogue, and story progression, which from my perspective means that the film is a complete failure.
The story was poorly paced and dull, as initially dialogue was used as exposition in the most lazy of ways, with the brain behind the squad making a case for using villains as a last resort when catastrophe occurs. This could’ve been fine had it come later on in the movie, but it was so transparent that its only purpose was to set-up the rest of the film in as timely a manner as possible and this hurt the characters going forward. The first scene tried to establish who the characters were and explain why they were in custody whilst also attempting to make each of them seem interesting and worthy of attention, but it was too vague with the former and as such didn’t achieve the latter.
The initial set-up raised more questions than it answered, because it made no sense that on the one hand we were told that the characters were ‘the worst of the worst’ and on the other we saw that they were redeemable. We saw (and heard through the exposition) that Deadshot (Will Smith) refused to kill Batman (Ben Affleck) in front of his daughter even though it would’ve allowed him to escape police custody, and we also saw that Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie) was a decent person before she was manipulated by The Joker (Jared Leto), so what we were being told and what we were witnessing didn’t truly correlate. I don’t know what kind of world these people live in, but in the real world the people who are the worst of the worst don’t spare lives for the sake of their daughter’s feelings when it means that they’ll have to spend a lifetime behind bars.
Additionally, there was a lack of power-symmetry between members of the group which the opening scene made all the more apparent. We were first introduced to Deadshot and Harley Quinn who are basically just normal people – one of them has good aim and the other is a lunatic but apart from that they have no special abilities – but then we found out that there was also an ancient witch in the group who can basically do anything, whenever she wants. With Enchantress (Cara Delevingne) on side there was really no need to bring anyone else in, which was made particularly clear when she travelled to Tehran and back in a matter of seconds without so much as a bead of sweat dripping down her forehead! Enchantress is a god, whereas Harley Quinn is a quirky lunatic with a baseball bat – you do the math.
A smart way to push the group together would’ve been to have a disaster happen which forced the government to assemble them as a kind of last resort/drastic response, but instead the government brought them together on the crazy idea that some unknown threat would rear its head at an indefinite point in the future, which is stupid. Really stupid. ‘What if Superman came down from the sky and ripped the roof off of the White House?’ isn’t a sentence which justifies unifying witches and criminals – fighting fire with fire is a nice turn of phrase but it isn’t a practical idea.
Moreover, making Enchantress the bad guy of the film was a nonsensical idea to begin with because there’s just no way that our ragtag team of villains would’ve been able to stop her! A much better villain for the film would’ve been The Joker because he’s just a person with a few screws loose – he’d still have been a powerful enemy given the fact that the squad weren’t in sync for the majority of the film, but he wouldn’t have felt unstoppable. In addition, using The Joker in this way would’ve given Leto more screen time and allowed Harley Quinn to feel as though she had a necessary place in the film, something which would’ve made Margot Robbie’s performance more palatable from my perspective.
At the end of the day Harley Quinn really wasn’t worth having in Amanda Waller’s (Viola Davis) squad, and as such the character felt like a ploy to sell merchandise rather than a worthwhile addition to the cast. She lacks depth because she’s never actually unlikeable and we don’t know what she’s done wrong to be thrown in jail, other than complying with the whims of a man who emotionally manipulated her and physically abused her!
Moreover, whilst Robbie’s performance was fine considering the awful script that she was working with, it’s not as though she was great in the film. She was good, and I think people who’ve said otherwise are being slightly harsh because she had very little to work with, but she wasn’t worthy of excessive praise. On the contrary, I think that we should view her performance as the minimum that we should expect rather than as something to applaud.
Sadly, the performances in this film were pretty poor across the board, particularly that of Joel Kinnaman who was a real disappointment for me personally given how good I think he’s capable of being. In “The Killing” and “House of Cards” he’s great, but here he was absolutely terrible and his delivery felt incredibly out of place in a variety of scenes. Still, I wouldn’t place all the blame for this movie’s quality on the actors involved, because at the end of the day the best builder can’t construct a house with one plank of wood. The writing for this film was absolutely and unequivocally indefensible, and I feel justified in saying that it was the main reason that the movie was as terrible as it turned out to be.
Finally, and perhaps most importantly, “Suicide Squad” is incredibly boring and lacking in any semblance of fun. The most colourful thing about it was the title sequence and it seemed to go on forever. I’d love to pretend that I have something good to say about this movie because I really wanted to like it, but in reality I don’t. I didn’t like anything about it, and even though I love Margot Robbie and think that her take on Harley Quinn was passable, it seemed better than it was because everybody else performed so badly. “Suicide Squad” was billed as a gritty but quirky film about a group of supervillains who are forced to fight evil, but sadly when it takes off its mask and cape you see that underneath it’s a generic superhero film in disguise, only without the spectacle.