Suicide Squad review

30 August 2016 by , No Comments


I’ve been sitting here trying to think of a nice thing to say at the beginning of my Suicide Squad review and, after much deliberation, the best thing I can say about it is, “It’s not as bad as everybody says.” Not exactly a quote that’ll end up on the Blu-Ray cover but I don’t think it’s the monster everyone says it is. That being said, I’m really not sure what I think it is, either. All I know is that Suicide Squad is an absolute mess from start to finish but, despite that, it can be oddly enjoyable to watch when it’s not simply baffling.

The movie starts shortly after the events of Batman v Superman and introduces us to shady US government type (for apparently there are no other types in movieland) Amanda Waller proposing her idea for a crack squad of supervillains that will be at their beck-and-call in the event that the next superhuman that descends upon Planet Earth turns out to be a baddie.

It’s this point that I have to grind this review to a complete halt to ask the question that nobody asked: Is this a joke? No, really, is it? Or maybe it’s a sign that all the DC movies actually take place on Opposite World, where killing is okay, intelligent thought is punishable by death, and mayonnaise is tasty? What sort of person decides that the best way to protect the world is by hiring criminals? Why can’t they just hire a bunch of really good soldiers? That sounds like a much safer plan because you can generally rely on soldiers to work together and follow orders. I’m all for a story about bad guys finding something worthy to fight for and achieving redemption, I think you could actually get a lot of weight and character depth out of a story like that, but in a sane world this plan would be laughed out of the room. So, inevitably, Waller is given the go-ahead to create Task Force X: a squad of mostly non-powered people that the US government expects to take down the next superhuman threat-

Okay, time out. I’m sorry, gonna have to stop this review again because really? So, when Darkseid shows up from Apokolips, our first line of defence is going to be Will Smith, a clown, a red shirt, a really big dude, a broody guy, and a man who calls himself “Captain Boomerang” with a completely straight face. I’d ask how bad one has to be at their job to make the governments of the Transformers movies look competent but that question sort of gets answered when the villain of the piece shows up. Turns out that Waller was basically keeping a very ancient and perpetually infuriated super-entity called the Enchantress on a leash and, long story short, she got out and decided to blow up the planet because who needs to use clever development or dynamic plot twists to make a villain threatening when you could just have them threaten to nuke everyone with undefined magical nonsense?

It’s not just the story that’s problematic, however. The editing is also rather flawed. It has the same problem that Batman v Superman had in that it spends too long on boring scenes and not enough on what could potentially be interesting ones. Will Smith’s character, the troubled assassin Deadshot, is closest we’ve got to an actual character in this movie and he actually does get some rather nice little scenes with his daughter that raise interesting questions like, “Could this contract killer actually be a better guardian for his child than her apparently crazy mother?” I would have been very happy to spend a bit more time on these details but then the movie decided that humanising these people was getting was boring and that what we really wanted to see in a comic book movie was a gaggle of grimly generic GIs. They constantly follow the Suicide Squad around and their captain keeps hogging the limelight in such a way that I think is supposed to make him either the protagonist or the “human” character that we’re all supposed to relate to but why the writers felt the need to include him after spending all of this time getting us to think that maybe Will Smith isn’t that bad a guy is beyond me.

Tell me, Suicide Squad, why do we even need your titular team if you’re going to send in soldiers anyway? “Well, it’s because Task Force X has access to special skills and equipment that regular soldiers don’t that makes them more suited for fighting off supernatural menaces.” But, if that’s the case, why don’t you just take all their gadgets, reverse-engineer them to find out how they work, and then mass-produce them for your soldiers? “Well, they’re just really good at what they do. Their skills are just that unique.” No they’re not, movie, because almost every enemy in the film is killed by being shot, stabbed, or blown up with explosives. Now, I’m not a marksman, swordsman, or explosives expert but I was under the impression that those were skills that any normal person could master given enough time and training. So, again, why do we even need this rabble of criminals that is almost certainly going to rebel against authority and try to escape at every given opportunity? “Well, if it all goes south, we can throw them under a bus by blowing them up!” But, movie, if you blow up Task Force X, then who’s going to deal with the supernatural threats? “Um… The soldiers maybe?” return you to my earlier point, movie.

This is all a real shame because the acting is actually not that bad. They may not be performances that’ll light the world on fire anytime soon but, for what it’s worth, I can’t say that anyone took me out of the experience. Jay Hernandez got to flex enough of his acting muscles as the reluctant pyromancer El Diablo that I came out of the film wishing that he’d gotten more screen-time and, of course, Will Smith is that rare actor who, even at his worst, is still reasonably watchable. Margot Robbie’s Harley Quinn isn’t bad, either. In fact, I’d say that her character is actually kind of likable in small doses but she probably could have done without the fanservice. I know that there’s always been a certain sexy quality to Harley but the film tries to play up just how mentally disturbed she actually is and that makes the attempts to sexualise her very uncomfortable to watch.

The action is also rather serviceable, if unoriginal save for one awesome literal fire fight at the end, and there are some pretty nice effects dotted throughout the film, especially on Enchantress. I’m not too sold on how she starts looking in the second act but her creepy eyes of doom and sinister tattoos along with a definitely unnerving transformation sequence really does help to establish just how much of a threat she is with very little dialogue and a lot of strong visuals. So, on that front, excellent job guys. It’s just too bad that the film suffers from the same overwhelming dullness in its environments that the other DC movies have displayed so far. I feel that these characters should have been much brighter and bolder than what we got. Everyone who isn’t Will Smith or Harley Quinn has this bad habit of blurring into the background, where I tend to mistake them for any of the other twelve darkly-clad dudes with a grim expression until they start talking. None of this is helped by the fact that some scenes slam into each other with all the grace of a pissed hippo on roller skates, nor by the soundtrack being an utter wash. I don’t know how the sound guys did it but, by God, they somehow made a way to make Queen of all things feel ill-fitting and out-of-place – and when your sound direction is on the same level as that of Highlander II, you know it’s time to go right back to whatever the audio equivalent of the drawing board is.

Suicide Squad has a lot wrong with it but, again, I just can’t bring myself to say that this movie is as bad as everyone else makes it out to be. It’s certainly not particularly good but, given the fuss everyone has made about it, I was expecting something truly abysmal. It may not have worked the way the team involved wanted it to be but hopefully lessons will be learned and maybe someone with a clearer vision of what kind of story should be told will give the, “Supervillain team up” plot a chance again.

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