I think it’s pretty fair to say that the DC Extended Universe has not been the rival to the MCU that most people thought it was going to be. Man of Steel was a decent film with some very problematic elements and Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice was a complete catastrophe that had me shaking with anger as I left the cinema. However, I did have hopes for Suicide Squad, especially when the trailers made it look like the fun time that the other DC movies failed to be. However, after the reviews started coming in, my expectations got lower and lower, I wanted so much to like this film, I didn’t want to have to write another negative review of a DC film, I want there to be proper competition to the MCU but alas, that is not the case here, this is another terrible film and I believe it is a worse film than Batman v Superman.
The film takes place a short time after the events of Batman v Superman with government official Amanda Waller creating her own task force of metahumans in the event that the next entity like Superman is hostile towards humanity. To that end, she recruits the villains of the DC universe to her cause, the ones chosen being Deadshot, Harley Quinn, Captain Boomerang, El Diablo, Slipknot and Katana, using them as plausible deniability in case anything goes wrong, using Special Forces commander Rick Flagg to keep them under control. Once one of the recruits for the squad, Enchantress, goes rogue and attacks Midway City, the Suicide Squad is sent in to extract a high value target and later stays to stop Enchantress and her brother Incubus. Now there are a few reasons why the plot doesn’t work, one of which being the terrible editing, which I’ll get into later. Another reason is that this doesn’t feel like a Suicide Squad movie. The other times I’ve seen the Suicide Squad in media, those being Batman: Assault on Arkham and the Justice League Unlimited episode Task Force X, the squad is a team based on stealth, a Black Ops unit, their known status as villains being the cover for the government if they get captured. Here though, with facing off against Enchantress and having a wider scope for the story, this feels like it should have been a Justice League Dark movie, not a Suicide Squad movie. There is also the issue of many members of the Suicide Squad having no purpose in the film and could have been cut out without affecting the plot with Slipknot being on screen for less than a minute before being killed off, along with Captain Boomerang and Katana serving no additional purpose to the Squad. The biggest issue with this though comes with Harley Quinn. In Assault on Arkham, it made sense that Quinn would be part of the team as they were breaking into Arkham Asylum and her former status as psychiatrist there meant she knew how to get around unseen. Here though, Quinn is just a liability, having no practical abilities to bring to the team (even Captain Boomerang has more abilities than her). It would have made sense if they made The Joker part of the main plot but he’s only in the film for about 10 minutes and none of his scenes have any bearing on the plot, all of them could have been cut out and you’d have the same film. A major issue of the film comes with the stupidity of Amanda Waller, now this video explains how stupid the character is better than I can, all I’ll add is that the way she was written here felt like an insult to both the character and to the talents of Viola Davis. The final big problem I have is how generic most of the film is, there’s nothing in here that hasn’t been done, and done better, in other comic book films, right down to Enchantress’ plan being virtually identical to that of Apocalypse in X-Men: Apocalypse, and when I say that was the better plot, you know this film has messed up. The most obvious point of inspiration is clearly Guardians of the Galaxy, from the music to the tone to some of the many introductions of the characters, one extended scene feeling like DC wanted to recreate the line-up exposition scene from Guardians of the Galaxy. This generic nature means that nothing in the plot of the film stands out to distinguish it, at least Batman v Superman was uniquely awful, this film is mainly dull.
Easily the biggest problem with the film though is the editing. Normally I don’t talk about the editing in a film as if a film is edited correctly then you will not notice the editing but here, the editing is atrocious. Some of the characters, most notably Harley Quinn and Deadshot get multiple introductions, character arcs and developments feel like they’ve been completely cut out of the film (especially near the end with Captain Boomerang), it’s obvious that there have been reshoots as these scenes have been edited in without any attention given to the continuity of the film (mainly involving Harley Quinn) and flashbacks are put into the film in places that make no sense, feeling like they were included just to pad out the film rather than to benefit the story (again, mainly being seen in relation to Harley Quinn). It also feels like a whole story arc for the Squad trusting each other and gaining the respect of each other has been cut out of the film, there being a point where El Diable refers to the Squad being a family when there has been no hint of anything like this before in the film, the lack of chemistry and interaction between the characters not helping matters.
The only reason why the film isn’t a complete fiasco is that some of the performances are decent, even if the actors are given no material to work with. Will Smith brings his charisma to Deadshot, easily being the most entertaining performance in the film, Margot Robbie makes for an effective Harley Quinn, showing the deranged nature of the character effectively, although the film completely fails to understand the nature of the relationship between Harley Quinn and the Joker, making it feel like they wanted to make an abusive relationship romantic. Viola Davis meanwhile, whilst being stuck playing an incredibly stupid version of Amanda Waller, brings in the intimidation and overall imposing presence that is needed for Waller, showing her Machiavelian nature effectively (such as how she manipulates Rick Flagg into a relationship with June Moone for her benefit) and is easily the best performance in the film. Jay Hernandez meanwhile, whilst stuck playing a complete stereotype of a character, adds real emotional weight to the character, even if the character arc he’s given revolving around the use of his powers is resolved in a way that makes no sense on a storytelling perspective. The other performances in the film though are pretty bad. Karen Fukuhara and Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje are given nothing to do as Katana and Killer Croc respectively and are pretty bland throughout the film, whilst Jai Courtney overcomes his normal lack of any sort of personality by being aggresively annoying instead. Joel Kinnaman endows his performance as Rick Flagg with all the personality of cardboard and there is no time given to establish the relationship between him and June Moone. Speaking of which Cara Delevingne is awful as Enchantress/June Moone. When she plays Moone, Delevingne has no personality whatsoever and when she’e Enchantress, the voice, body movements (mainly her weird dancing when conjuring the portal) and overall demeanour is nonsensical, it’s the sort of bad performance you have to see to believe. Finally, we get to Jared Leto as the Joker, who’s given barely any screen time and could have been cut out of the film entirely and nothing of value would have been lost. Leto comes close to riveling Delevingne for worst performance in the film. Aside from an admittedly cool Joker laugh, he’s just awful, being annoying to watch throughout the film, coming across as an incredibly generic gangster, having no chemistry with Margot Robbie, which is especially bad considering how the film makes a big deal out of the Joker/Harley Quinn relationship (again, completely misunderstanding this relationship) and his voice is grating to listen to, it feels like he wanted to do an impression of Gary Oldman as Sid Vicious in Sid and Nancy but instead ended up with Gary Oldman as Mason Verger in Hannibal. Between his awful performance, his on-set antics and his hostility to DC since the films release, I won’t be surprised if Leto is replaced as the Joker before the solo Batman film.
On a technical standpoint the film is not impressive. The direction in the action scenes comes across as incredibly generic, it being a long string of boring gunfights, not helped by bland cinematography.The imagery used in the film doesn’t fit the tone at all, mainly the neon introduction cards for each character. The costume design is a mixed bag, ranging from the bland costumes for Katana and Captain Boomerang, to interesting costumes for Deadshot and the Joker, to overly sexualised and ridiculous costumes for Harley Quinn and Enchantress. The music selection feels like another attempt to ape the success of Guardians of the Galaxy except whilst in that film the music served the plot, the music here is chosen to sound cool, some of the choices being the most obvious ones (such as Black Skinhead for the third introduction of Deadshot and Seven Nation Army when the Squad is assembled), in some cases the songs contradict the characters, mainly with Harley Quinn who is introduced with the song You Don’t Own Me, and in the next scene is shown as the property of the Joker. The effects meanwhile are pretty terrible throughout. The effects for Killer Croc look decent but still feel fake, Enchantress’ army is incredibly generic and again looks fake and the secondary villain of the film, Incubus, looks ridiculous with some of the worst CG for a villain I’ve seen, getting worse as the film goes on, getting laughable by the end of the film. When this is combined with the atrocious editing, it makes for one of the worst put together blockbusters I’ve seen in a long time.
Overall, Suicide Squad is a complete disaster. Whilst not as objectively terrible as Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, I personally found it to be worse due to how disappointing it was. I really liked the trailers, I liked the idea, I liked the cast, this had the potential to put the DC movies back on the right track but instead, in trying to clean up the fallout from Batman v Superman, in trying to make the films resemble the trailers more (with Warner Bros hiring the editors for the trailer to make a cut of the film) and in trying to ape the Marvel Cinematic Universe, the film is a fiasco, but there is just enough of David Ayer’s original vision in here to make it seem like the film would have been terrible and plagued with bad writing (despite some decent performances) even if all the behind the scenes shenanigans didn’t happen. This film has removed any confidence I have for the future of DC movies and I hate that I have to write that.
My Rating: 1/5