This review contains mild spoilers.
LET’S get something out the way; the DC cinematic universe is having a bit of a rocky ride at the moment. With Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice failing to impress the critics with its convoluted script and dodgy acting, DC are, more than ever, putting their hopes into Suicide Squad. With the vibe somewhere between Guardians of the Galaxy capers and Deadpool humour, trailers for this film have looked promising, with the film really tapping into a neat idea.
Unfortunately, that’s all Suicide Squad is; an idea; an undeveloped storyline, a rough fan fiction. It’s unsurprising to realise that, once again, a major blockbuster has an incredibly weak storyline, but it’s still a disappointment. While its lineage from Deadpool and Guardians is clear (not least in the fact it rattles off 10 pop culture songs almost immediately as it starts), its story fails to live up to either. That stems from a couple of things; firstly, the bad guy’s motive is pointless, and lends absolutely nothing to the film except for being some sort of end goal for the loosely connected madness to strive towards.
Then there’s the editing and humour. After the drab nature of BVS, DC went back and reshot large portions of this film to make it funnier. The alarm bells should be ringing real fuckin’ loud already. Because of this hasty re-arranging you get a kind of chopped up version of the trailer that has the jokes, but for some reason just isn’t funny. It’s a testament to how crucial timing is to comedy as a whole.
But why exactly does it fall so flat? One of the good points about this film is how it makes Captain Boomerang and Killer Croc, characters who are otherwise rather gimmicky, look pretty legitimate, but it simultaneously drops the ball on some ripe comedic opportunities. For example: When Rick Flag (Joel Kinnaman) introduces the team to Katana (Karen Fukuhara), he warns them: “Her sword collects the souls of those she kills.”
…Okay? And? Where is the punchline? You’re kidding me? You’re not even going to touch that?! It’s such a ridiculous idea, something that Suicide Squad’s inspirations would have poked fun at. But no, it just sits there, making the audience feel awkward. Just like Cara Delevingne’s stupid Enchantress dance thing, and just like nearly every other joke in this film. Even with those apparent reshoots, this film still flops on the humour front.
And you know the worst part? This film thinks its hilarious, but also deep and alternative. The reality is its actually incredibly cliché. Take Will Smith’s Deadshot, who fits the ‘I’m a bad guy but underneath it all I’m quite sensitive’ stereotype, or Viola Davis’ Amanda Waller, a character who kind of fulfils that horrible cinematic element of, “Who is really the ~bad guy~?”
These clichés are no doubt the result of poor character writing. Aside from Deadshot and Harley Quinn, none of these characters are really given any substance, and even Deadshot himself has a personality based almost solely on the fact he has a daughter. They really miss the opportunity to make characters like Captain Boomerang and Killer Croc interesting, although Jai Courtney and Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje give it their all.
When it comes to the much hyped Harley Quinn (played by Margot Robbie), it’s a mixed bag. Robbie herself has done her research, but the script doesn’t always do the character justice. Granted, her background scenes with the Joker are often interesting, and it’s nice to see some references back to their comic book past, but the film also fails to convey the conflicted nature of her love for the Joker.
Not only that, but a lot of the references that are significant parts of the plot relied on the audience being familiar with the source material. So, when they do come around, half of the audience will sit there wondering what’s going on. And even if you’re a comic book fan, there are TONNES of plot holes in this film that are never explained. But I digress.
Half the time Quinn is portrayed as the kind of ‘wacky’ girl who might overuse the monkey emoji, which is already doing the character a massive injustice, and that’s before we even get into the sexual objectification that she suffers. Her other half, Jared Leto’s Joker, is actually not so bad. Leto’s performance is committed, and, while those tattoos still look ridiculous, it’s nice he gives his own spin on the character.
But so much time is given to these characters that the others are left to tread water, with absolutely no reason given as to why the audience should like them. The extent of their background for most of them can be summed up in one hideously annoying quote: “We’re bad guys, it’s what we do.” And what doesn’t help this cause is some questionable acting by select members of the cast, the best example of which is Cara Delevingne who, bless her, really is not a very good actress. Her character, Enchantress, comes across as a confused mess with a very futile motive throughout. Perhaps one of the best moments in this film comes courtesy of Ben Affleck’s Batman, who shines bright, despite only being on screen for around two minutes.
The fact that this has a lot of high profile actors in an ensemble cast is no excuse for these flat representations. Plenty of films have given us a well rounded ensemble cast that Suicide Squad falls short of creating. This comes on top of a lacklustre story, lame editing, poor comic timing and a script that is both sloppy and reliant on prior knowledge of the characters. Suicide Squad really wants to be edgy, it really wants to be hilarious, but all its efforts are sadly in vain. A lot of people have said the film is meant to be ‘fun’ and people just need to ‘enjoy the ride’. But, to be frank, with such glaring problems with this film, it seems hard to even do that. What a waste.
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