Suicide Squad (2016)
Starring: Will Smith, Margot Robbie, Jared Leto, Joel Kinnaman, Viola Davis, Jai Courtney, Jay Hernandez, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, Cara Delevingne
Directed by: David Ayer (End of Watch, Fury)
Synopsis: Group of violent and psychotic super villains are banded together to form a rescue team to stop the one member that was supposed to keep them in line. It’s as convoluted as it sounds.
What works: OK, this is going to be brief because my mind is still numb from the lunacy that I watched last night. I seriously cannot rationale what I saw. I can’t really say that I hated it, but at the same time my brain knows that it was awful. It’s the weirdest thing. Inside this shallow Hot Topic Made-for-TV-movie is a real movie dying to get out. The action isn’t awful in terms of presentation but incredibly boring. The characters could’ve been fleshed out more but I didn’t hate most of them or the actors’ portrayals of them (except for maybe Rick Flag and Jai Courtney’s Captain Boomerang—and it should got without saying, Jared Leto’s Joker). I think it also helped that I knew virtually nothing about these DC comics characters and thus didn’t have the geek tie to them or their history.
I kinda liked Margot Robbie as Harley Quinn. She seemed to have fun with the role and made it her own. I just wish she had better things to do or say in the movie.
I’m still struggling to come up with something good to say or to justify why I didn’t (yet) hate the flick, so let’s just move on to what doesn’t work. Maybe as I write this review I’ll work out my confusion.
What doesn’t work: First off, this wasn’t as bad a train wreck that Batman v. Superman was but not by much. But I can safely say that if I had a gun to my head with the choice to watch either of them again I would quickly pick Suicide Squad (and then the bullet anyway). But the main and major problem this flick has is the tone. DC comics/WB has to fucking figure out what tone they’re movies should be. Both Man of Steel and Batman v. Superman (and Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy for that matter) are dark, gritty, realistic, depressing and somber. And maybe that’s the crux of the issue that WB has. Because Nolan’s Batman flicks worked so well as gritty and realistic that WB/DC think that every one of their properties should be that way. We’ve complained about this before so I won’t go into it again but now they have a movie featuring nothing but villains, thieves, murderers, psychopaths and a human crocodile and it’s a pseudo-comedy?! There’s one scene in particular when they’re drinking together and finally bonding as a team when El Diablo (the fire shooting fella) tells his sob story of how he incinerated his wife and two kids. Totally a tragic and sad story. And we’re rooting for this guy why now? (I even found it funny that he was married to what seemed like a nice looking lady in a stable home and his face is tattooed to look like a skull—it just looks ridiculous). So we have these sociopathic master criminals who are the protagonists of this film and it just doesn’t work. Not when you’re throwing in jokes and a ton of pop songs (And believe me, there’s a lot of pop songs—I think every character has his/her own song). Will Smith, as Deadshot, is supposed to be some bad-ass assassin but he’s also a loving father who misses his daughter. One scene I couldn’t stand was in a flashback, he’s confronted by Batman and his daughter gets in between them so Deadshot cannot kill the caped crusader. Further in to the movie, when a witch called the Enchantress gives the Squad visions of their utmost desires, Deadshot imagines that same flashback scene but with a dead Batman. So his ultimate wish and desire was to kill Batman? In front of his daughter? Margot Robbie’s Harley Quinn’s desire was to have a normal family life with The Joker, which is sick and twisted in its own right but at least it was “wholesome.” So on the one hand you want to make a movie portraying these vile and ruthless killers and thieves and have them really gritty and realistic as such but at the same time, make them multi-faceted characters that also do the right thing and be heroes for the world. It’s a huge mess tonally. DC needs to learn what tone is and why it’s important for movies.
Let me back up a bit and describe the plot of the film for those of you the didn’t get the memo, because the trailers didn’t do very well in that department. After Superman dies [SPOILERS] in Dawn of Justice, some government official played by Voila Davis wants to assemble a team of “metahumans” (that’s the DC term for superhero now I guess) to stop any possible threats, like other dangerous metahumans. Somehow she gets the green light by the powers-that-be. I’m still not sure how she got the OK to do this considering the risk of these villains being out of prison. It would’ve been more compelling if there was a large threat that occurs and they have no other choice. Not like the last movie didn’t already establish that other “good” metahumans existed. Oh wait. Yeah they did. And I should also mention that Davis was hoping to control this group of villains with another villain, the powerful witch, The Enchantress, by possessing the witch’s actual heart. Without her heart, the Enchantress is only slightly less powerful. It doesn’t make any sense. But then they do get a huge metahuman-level threat in Midway City when the Enchantress goes rogue with her warlock brother Incubus. So the threat needed for the alliance of super villains is the very reason of the assembly of the super villains. It’s as dumb as it sounds.
I haven’t really made mention of The Joker yet and that’s mainly because he’s hardly in the movie. Seriously, they made a big deal about featuring the Clown Prince of Crime and he gets maybe 12 minutes of screen time. Easily the worst Joker of all time. I know Leto had mighty large shoes to fill with this character but he both looked silly and acted silly. This was just Jesse Eisenberg totally miscast as Lex Luthor all over again. He was only in the movie to serve as flashback material for Harley Quinn and as a small deus ex machine for Quinn in one scene that added up to totally nothing!
Overall: This film is the Ed Hardy shirt of comic book movies. It’s the Dane Cook of comic book movies. It’s as if a brah who loves Mark Wahlberg suddenly started hanging out with geeks in a local comic book shop and decided to make a movie. Like I said the tone is off the rails and the soundtrack makes it ten-times worse. It’s action scenes are boring and inconsequential, especially when the Squad’s main foes are faceless and easily killed zombie-like creatures that the Enchantress made from normal people. They tried to have totally bad-ass characters and ended up with criminals named Captain Boomerang, who’s Australian and throws boomerangs and another fella named Slipknot who, I shit you not, is described as “[someone] who can climb anything!” HAHAHAHA. These are just lame villains from the start and ones I cannot give two hot shits for. There’s another character named Kitana (Japanese sword) who’s a good guy with a sword that traps the victims’ souls in the blade. Why is this important and what purpose does it serve? Absolutely nothing but to sound “cool” I suppose. Most of the characters are fighting mystical foes with guns and we have Harley Quinn, who’s main weapon is a fucking baseball bat. I mean, why is she even there? These weren’t really “metahumans” as just people with deadly skills. I’m still scratching my head to why they assembled this sort of team other than they’re expendable because they are criminals. But with two powerful witches destroying a city and creating a massive weapon bent on destroying the Earth, maybe a team of misfits with no superpowers isn’t such a great idea.
The stakes are never high for the Squad and even the Enchantress barely makes a dent into their alliance or their lives. She is a really powerful witch, yet at the final battle she barely, if ever, gets the upper hand and gives a ridiculous amount of free time to the Squad to come up with plans and solutions when moments earlier she wipes out military bases and aircraft carriers on the other side of the globe with ease. I think El Diablo is the only one who dies and that’s the only plausible redeemable character arc in the whole movie. They tried to have arcs for Deadshot and Harley Quinn but they failed in that department as well.
I could point to at least 4 major influences for this movie that they decided to rip-off and Guardians of the Galaxy is top of the list. Heavy use of pop songs, check! Gang of thieves, murderers and criminals working together as a heroic team, check! Light-hearted use of tone, check!! See, Guardians was a gang of criminals too but the tone worked because our main hero, Starlord wasn’t a total psychopath who murdered people, especially his own children. Another huge influence for the finale is the original Ghostbusters. The Squad meet up with a gozer-like entity with a ton of magic and brilliant light. After she dies, the woman that the Enchantress possessed, physically rips off the skin of the dead Enchantress just like Dana did in the shell of the dead Zuul. Another big rip-off is Escape From New York with the team reluctantly banding together to do something heroic in an empty city with something injected in their necks that could explode and kill them if they try to flee or harm the good guys. That’s just a blatant rip-off of plot right there! And while I’m thinking about it, this is like the third comic book movie that featured an empty city where the characters could fight in without hurting any innocent bystanders. After the Enchantress take over the city, they evacuate Midway City and there’s not one normal denizen in the whole movie while they’re there that they need to save. Very lazy and convenient now. There are other rip-offs but I’ll stop there.
With a dumb and convoluted plot for the very existence of this Suicide Squad and add to that the weak character development as well as it being tonally skewed this is one annoying and frustrating movie. It could’ve been fun I suppose but I’m still dumbfounded by DC’s decision with even making this movie in their DCEU that I can’t seem to come up with any suggestions. My only idea is fix the tone more. Make this more 70s gritty like The Dirty Dozen, The Wild Bunch or even Dirty Harry kind of tone. It’s great to have anti-heroes but make them actually be anti-heroes to the core. Will Smith tried to be like Deadpool but wasn’t funny enough nor menacing enough. I don’t know where DC is going after this considering it basically had a happy ending. Will Smith helping his daughter with her geometry homework was a tad off I think. They left it open with The Joker breaking Harley Quinn out of prison but after this debacle I really don’t know what they could do with it. DC’s fucked I’m afraid.
Score: 4 Ancient Witch Hearts Stabbed With a Pen (out of 10)