Movie Review: Suicide Squad
After “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice” flopped with both fans and critics, many die-hard DC fans and occasional superhero movie-goers were left wondering whether “Suicide Squad” could fix the disappointing mess that Zack Snyder left behind. After seeing the movie for myself, I can answer that question with a confident “eh.”
This film is the long-awaited third entry in the DC Cinematic Universe, starring Will Smith, Margot Robbie, Viola Davis and many other notable actors. At its best, it offers a unique premise that could foreshadow the next installment and show off some lesser known DC characters. With its gritty aesthetic and jam-packed ensemble of accomplished actors, “Suicide Squad” sounds interesting in theory.
The government, which is rightfully concerned about a meta-human invasion, needs a team of people with the capability to stop them. Who better suited than a team of supervillains who are locked up in prison and have no other option but cooperation?
However, the movie’s characters are grossly underdeveloped to the point where an audience will only feel sheer apathy towards the plot and well-being of the characters. There is nothing in the film that truly convinces the audience that anything happening actually has consequences, even when the villain is literally trying to destroy the world.
The first 45 minutes of the film are easily the best because they at least met expectations. You get to meet the characters and see what they can do. There’s a lot of action, a lot of banter and a good eaamount of exposition, which is easily digestible and properly informative.
But once it gets through the required introductions, the movie starts to get messy. Going into “Suicide Squad”, I expected the film to follow a similar formula as “Avengers,” where the impending danger is built upon your empathy and devotion to the characters all coming out on the other side. You can tell the film is failing when the reaction to a main character dying during a fight is apathetic.
This movie becomes one very long scene with a few flashbacks sprinkled around to help establish Harley Quinn and The Joker. The format didn’t allow for me to really care about the characters or the resolution at all by the end of the movie, which read as “Justice League is coming, so just forget about these guys” -- which is exactly what Bruce Wayne says to Amanda Waller in the mid-credits scene.
One aspect a lot of fans will complain about is that Jared Leto’s Joker was not featured enough in the movie, apparently because his scenes were cut down substantially after reshoots. I have the opposite perspective -- the lack of Leto was a good thing. In Leto’s portrayal, the Joker isn’t a character, it’s just an archetype.
In “The Dark Knight” from 2008, one of my favorite parts of the movie is Heath Ledger’s Joker, who had more than one conflicting backstory and a clear motivation. This all developed the idea that the Joker was a mysterious figure that lived only for chaos. Leto’s Joker has no backstory and no motivation, and there was no point putting him in this movie at all.
The strongest character in the movie is Amanda Waller, who is a fan favorite. It was important that she was well-written. In the comics, Waller is known for being clever and cunning and manipulative and is what you would picture if someone described the devil to you. To its credit, “Suicide Squad” depicts this perfectly.
Perhaps most detrimental to the film is its general air of apathy toward every aspect of the plotlines. The characters weren’t very interesting, the story was pretty standard and the script was not exceptionally written. On top of all of this, the film gives us no reason to care about the characters and their journeys at all. And despite the villain being fairly strong, you figure out early on that it’s a “Pandora’s Box” situation, and you wouldn’t feel bad for Viola Davis’ Waller for opening the box because you know she’s smarter than this.
The film is definitely better than “Batman v. Superman,” but if that’s the bar you have to set to determine whether the movie is any good, then you are not setting it particularly high. While the movie has strong moments and some slightly redeeming qualities, its execution is misguided, even with the extensive reshoots. If you’re a die hard comic fan or want redemption from “Batman v. Superman,” then you should check this movie out. But if you want to see a legitimately well-produced and well-written superhero movie, you’re better off going back to Marvel.
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