Review: ‘Suicide Squad’ Appeasement Results In An Abomination

Suicide Squad is Warner Bros./ DC’s third film as it tries to establish a cinematic universe similar to Marvel. The Suicide Squad’s rich comic book narrative (can bad guys do something good by defeating evil?) should have afforded Ayer an opportunity to create a film that was unique and stood out from any other superhero film. Instead, the final product is a feeble attempt that seems hell-bent on pleasing DC fanboys rather than creating an appealing final product.

For those who aren’t up to speed on the DC movieverse, Suicide Squad is based on a band of villains who are recruited to be part of a team that battles even worse villains. Viola Davis plays Amanda Waller, the ruthless leader of Task Force “X” (The Suicide Squad) and the genius who came up with this idea to start with. Joel Kinnaman plays Rick Flag, the soldier in command of Task Force “X”: Will Smith as Deadshot, an assassin who never misses; Jay Hernandez as El Diablo, who can shoot fire from his arms; Margot Robbie as Harley Quinn, a former psychiatrist at Arkham Asylum who falls in love with the Joker and goes insane; Adewale Akinnupye-Agbaje as Killer Croc, the name speaks for itself; and Jai Courtney as Boomerang, an Aussie jewel thief with a love for pink unicorns. Their mission is a lame rescue operation in Midway City.

Suicide SquadIn the midst of the rescue, it becomes increasingly evident the mission should be trying to find out who’s causing all this destruction and mayhem around them. They quickly realize it’s Cara Delevingne, who plays Dr. June Moore/The Enchantress, and they set out to stop her.

The surprise in all of this is two-fold: 1) The Joker (Jared Leto) isn’t a member of The Suicide Squad, and 2) The Joker isn’t even a main character. So the question becomes, what exactly is the purpose of having the Joker in the film to begin with? Ayer relegates this iconic character to no more than an arbitrary piece of the narrative. In fact, someone could have cut his parts from the film and it wouldn’t have had any impact on the movie. Why even include the character to being with? Is it because he was a box-office draw? He indeed ends up being just a pointless footnote in a deeply flawed film.

Ayer sets forth with a narrative that is weighed down with clutter and lacking any discernable direction. In the beginning, when Amanda Waller is putting the team together, this film seemed to be headed in the right direction. As a fan, it was hard not to be giddy at the thought of these villains facing off against someone like, maybe, The Joker? Instead, it quickly becomes a story about the background of each of the members of the squad, which come off as incredibly hokey and predictable. Then our focus is deterred, and we realize that The Enchantress is the villain in this film (mind you with no real connection as to how we got to this point).

Ayer’s script is a mess. By going from one thing to the next, it doesn’t allow the audience to get invested in anything unfolding on the screen. DC should be striving for maximum investment from its audiences as it attempts to build a core audience. If anything, watching this film was downright disheartening.

This is now the third film DC has attempted to do, and the end result is a wretched final product. DC might need to take a page out of the Marvel playbook and start developing films with some sort of linear narrative. Instead of trying to do so much in their films, simplify. For example, in the original Iron Man, Marvel didn’t introduce Captain America and The Incredible Hulk; the story centered Tony’s ascension to becoming Iron Man and his fight against the terrorists/Obadiah Stane (Jeff Bridges). Straightforward and easy to follow for the audience. Then what they did was concentrate on telling a great story of a billionaire arms dealer turned superhero. If we were to apply this DC, then Ayer would have just focused on telling that narrative of can bad guys do something good by defeating evil. Perhaps, that’s what he wanted to do initially, but the studio meddled with the film the same way the studio interfered with The Fantastic Four. 

The performances in the movie are a mixed bag. Margot Robbie and Will Smith stand out, but that really shouldn’t come as a surprise as both have demonstrated their star power on screen countless times. Jai Courtney’s performance was just a two-hour masterclass on overacting . Jay Hernandez is forgettable even when he’s torching a building floor full of bad guys. But the two worst performances belong to both Jared Leto and Cara Delevinge.

Jared Leto’s stupendously irritating performance as the Joker lacks any depth and comes off more as just a weird guy who has green hair, a bunch of tattoos, and some weapons. Leto is far from a sociopath and more of a social outcast, especially since he doesn’t seem to have a place in this film. Cara Delevinge’s performance is on par with Sharon Stone’s performance in Catwoman. The only thing audiences have to fear is how long we’re subjected to seeing her on screen at a given time.

In the end, Ayer’s desire to appease the DC superfans has proven his undoing. Instead of creating a film that fit within the world of The Suicide Squad, he made a movie whose purpose was to atone for all the problems with Batman V Superman: Dawn Of Justice. Instead of basking in the glory of redemption, DC is faced with some tough questions. Is DC capable of developing a quality Superhero film?

Dewey Singleton - Film Critic
Dewey Singleton - Film Critic
I'm a member of the Broadcast Film Critics Association and have been doing reviews for many years. My views on film are often heard in markets such as Atlanta, Houston, and satellite radio. My wife often tolerates my obsession for all things film related and two sons are at an age now where 'Trolls' is way cooler than dad. Follow me on twitter @mrsingleton.