We’re all tiring now of Super Hero movies? Admit it, the only decent addition the comic book collection this year has been Deadpool. Suicide Squad was built up and advertised as part Deadpool, part standard comic book movie, the antidote to a tired and well worn genre of films, and the fan boy talk online was furiously anticipating this film. Teaser trailers and posters setup this dark, twisted anti-hero movie, it was going to be weird, stylish, slick, dark. What we’ve ended up with is disjointed, flat and boring.
The plot of Suicide Squad is the establishment of an anti-hero mercenary team drafted in to wage war on The Enchantress or terrorists? (it wasn’t entirely clear to be honest which came first, the idea for Suicide Squad, and then The Enchantress kicked off, or they were assembled because of The Enchantress – answers in the comments please!) headed up by the completely dull Amanda Waller (Viola Davis) who somehow manages to dominate nearly all the first half without anything particularly notable about her character or personality – other than she’s good at reading facts from a top secret document about each member of the proposed Suicide Squad. Second in command, is Rick Flag (Joel Kinnaman) who is equally dull, except for an inexplicable relationship with The Enchantress, June Moon (Cara Delevign) only explained by ‘I put him on watch with her, and as expected, they fell in love’ – as two non-descript people usually do. Then we get a run down of our Suicide Squad, Deadshot (Will Smith) who’s backstory pretty much is the story, Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie) who’s mental instability is reduced down to some kind of Playgirl bunny version of female insanity, which just comes across as juvenile, non-threatening and irritating, Diablo (Jay Hernandez) who’s backstory is much more interesting than the others but fails to ever delve deeper into this, Boomerang (Jai Courtney) who is every Australian stereotype and serves very little purpose, Killer Croc (Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje) who is the most undeveloped and best character in the film, but with less screen time than it takes to make a cup of tea, never gets the screen time he deserves.
Suicide Squad is so problematic, so here’s a run down of the biggest problems with it –
1. The story makes no sense
The story is so flat and boring, the story arcs are predictable, there were times when I felt like I’d fallen asleep and missed something. The story is so disjointed and poorly put together. There was an over reliance on action sequences, the story was horribly neglected. One of the biggest problems with it was flashback sequences took up so much time, to establish characters such as Deadshot and Harley Quinn, there was no room for anything else. I’m struggling to work out if the film needed a three hour run time to get it all in for it to make sense, or the story is just simply not exciting enough to tell. When you think about The Dark Knight Trilogy (which for me, is the best Superhero adaptation) the stories are predictable, let’s be honest, we all knew the plot of The Dark Knight before we had all seen it, but the focus on the details, the intracacies of character development made the film enjoyable to watch. Suicide Squad manages to cram all the wrong bits into two hours. I felt like there should have been more focus on the assembling of the squad, rather than flashbacks of Harley Quinn and the Joker, and Deadshot. There was nothing particularly that stood out, the script was flimsy and dull. Nothing particularly funny, or outstanding, just words.
2. The Joker and Harley Quinn
The biggest marketing tool in this film, was Jared Leto’s Joker and Margot Robbie’s Harley Quinn. Arguably the only comic book romance to be widely enjoyed by readers. They were a match made in heaven, a corrupted woman who succumbs to the Joker’s madness. With a focus on chaos and pandemonium, these two characters should have translated beautifully to the screen. Instead we end up with a Joker who’s quite simply, trying to emulate Heath Ledger’s performance, and for some reason is now blinged up, hosting champagne receptions in strip clubs and Harley Quinn is just a psychotic playgirl bunny who presents very little threat. The Joker has become a superstar, concerned with his image and personality, which removes everything that was originally terrifying about The Joker. Chaos doesn’t wear Versace. Jared Leto’s performance is just a flat copy of Ledger’s, and despite people saying that it’s flat because of the scenes cut from the movie, I find this hard to believe. The Joker is vulgar and camp, where in previous incarnations he’s been scary and dystopian but hugely compelling to watch.
There was also a significant focus on Harley Quinn’s backside. Now without descending into a feminist rant, I thought we’d got past this? If Harley Quinn’s character was as strong as it is in the source material, we wouldn’t need these lingering arse shots. It’s the same old tired trope we see in James Bond films, boring female characters garnering interest through voyeurism. Harley Quinn’s character is indefinitely ‘sexy’ because she’s boundless, out of control, I could understand the occasional arse shot, or the ‘getting dressed publicly’ scene as a standalone signifier of ‘hey, look at her, she’s sexy’, but unfortunately, we got into arse shot after arse shot which just devalues her character, her main draw shouldn’t be that she’s sexy, it should be that she’s dangerous. And it just doesn’t come across in Suicide Squad. Her lines are boring, she says and does boring things, she’s just a bit of a neglected character and this is the fatal flaw in Suicide Squad.
3. Cara Delevign
Now, I’m all for bringing new talent to the table when it comes to mainstream movies, it’s great to see unknowns or newbies getting stuck into a role. But Cara Delevign, how did this happen? When she’s not flailing around, writhing about in some sort of Queen of the Damned rip off outfit, she’s crying or just looking a bit confused. For someone who says barely anything, she manages to look so out of place, and her facial expressions are seriously over the top. For me, if someone can’t even be a good actor even when they’ve not got any lines and just need to look scared, or concerned, or scared and still gets it wrong, then they’re not a good actor. It was distracting and odd.
Some of the CGI in Suicide Squad was terrible. It was cartoony and lurid, some of the scenes of the Enchantress were distressingly fake, it was a hack job and looked like someone had pasted Cara Delevign’s head onto some CGI body. It was bad. The action sequences were boring and overlong. When considering how to do an action sequence, The Matrix (from nearly 20 years ago) set the bar high, and arguably, these scenes should have been where Suicide Squad excelled, but again, just fell flat.
5. Will Smith
It was horribly noticeable just how good Will Smith is as an actor, and he doesn’t fit into this film at all. His acting ability is indefinitely better than the directing ability and it just highlights again what a disjointed film Suicide Squad is. His backstory, as mentioned before, is the story arguably, and it does feed into a wider problem for our ‘villains’. We’re deliberately put into the position of empathising with him, his struggle to see his daughter, his externalised anger at missing watching her grow up; and this is the problem. We’re not really supposed to sympathise with them, we didn’t sympathise with the Joker, or Loki, or Lex Luther, therefore the premise of the whole film is kind of redundant in a way. Are they anti-heroes? They all have a change of heart by the end, which feels weak and forced, we’re supposed to believe that Harley Quinn is reformed? They’re not strong enough to be villains, nor are they developed enough to be heroes. And Will Smith’s performance cements this. His performance is believable, strong, developed. When you lay this on top of bad writing, editing and directing, there’s a problem.
There’s a whole host of issues with Suicide Squad, but if you’re a fan of the genre, I urge you to see it, you may enjoy it, and it’s perhaps laid the foundations for the sub-genre of comic book movies, I just wouldn’t pay full price for it…