Title: Suicide Squad
Director: David Ayer
Summary: A secret government agency recruits imprisoned supervillains to execute dangerous black ops missions in exchange for clemency.
I believe that DC and Warner Bros were in an interesting spot going into Suicide Squad, or at least not in a position they expected. It seemed like the plan was for Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice to be the ‘sure thing’ while giving Suicide Squad the freedom to do things different and take some risks. However, Batman v Superman might have made back its budget although it was critically panned and did not do as well as DC/WB were hoping. Now the pressure was on Suicide Squad to basically justify the entire DC Cinematic Universe. That is a lot of pressure on a movie banking on a very different concept with a marketing campaign that seemed to owe more to Guardians of the Galaxy than any previous DC property. There has been a cautious optimism following this movie from the moment its trailer leaked from Hall H at Comic-Con in 2015.
Suicide Squad is not the full scale disaster that Batman v Superman was, but due to an extremely lackluster script and some poor aesthetic decisions it does not hold up.
To start off allow me to be clear that while I do prefer Marvel movies I did try to go into this movie with as little of a bias as humanly possible. I enjoyed director/writer David Ayer’s previous movie Fury a lot and I’ve been enjoying the marketing for this movie quite a bit. I went into this one a lot more hopeful than I did going into Batman v Superman and in a lot of ways that makes this failure even worse . I wanted this movie to be good because I want there to be good DC movies but Suicide Squad barely rises into ‘average’ territory. The structure of this script is a complete disaster. There is barely a first act and it’s littered with brief flashbacks to how each member of the team got caught, and then no second act at all. It was like there was an entire reel of the movie missing, only movies aren’t shown on reels anymore. The transition is about as clunky as you can imagine.
The decision to jump into the action diminishes the very thing that makes team-up movies fun; team dynamics. It is the thing that makes movies like this fun, but while the cast has decent chemistry and is obviously having fun none of that is derived from the script. There aren’t any moments where they really bond or even talk to each other, aside from the moment in the bar that is featured in the trailers. By then it’s too late and more than halfway into the movie. The movie moves from set piece to set piece without any of the connective tissue that makes a movie great. The fun of a team-up is watching the clash of various personalities, but for a bunch of sociopaths we don’t really see anything like that. In fact, for a bunch of criminals, we don’t get to see them do anything really fun.
There is also the fact that this movie is rather atrocious toward its female characters. I could write an entire article on this (and I probably will) but to say that this movie fails the women in it would be an understatement. Katana (Karen Fukuhara) is woefully underused and doesn’t really have a point to her being there. Amanda Waller (Viola Davis) isn’t given any dimension that might make a morally dubious character like her fun. In fact she is just as bad as the people she is controlling, if not worse, and it just makes her unlikable. Enchantress (Cara Delevingne) is a character I can’t get into without spoiling things but her look of a metal bikini is so over the top and pointless that I had to roll my eyes. Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie) makes off worst of all. She has no agency aside from the various men in her life and her design is so pointless and over sexualized that, at times, it felt like it was part of a joke I didn’t get. The movie doesn’t address how messed up her relationship with the Joker (Jared Leto) is and, at times, I felt like it was even romanticizing it in a positive way.
Suicide Squad is a movie I could discuss using another one thousand words about all of the ways it disappoints. Leto goes for broke in the performance but he and Robbie feel like they are trying way too hard half the time. There is not a single person worth rooting for here, and while I understand that they are bad guys they aren’t engaging enough to make watching them interesting. The plot makes zero sense, even by comic book standards, and there isn’t a single action scene that I remember fondly less than twelve hours after seeing the movie. While Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice was the equivalent of a sucker punch to the face Suicide Squad is a sharp kick to the shins. While one is objectively better than the other, it doesn’t make either of them good.