Suicide Squad Review: Fun, But Fruitless
There has been a lot of press about this past weekend’s newest DC Cinematic Universe release, Suicide Squad, and very little of it has been good – which seemed at odds with what I had initially heard about the David Ayer written and directed project only a few months ago. The word was that it was a perfect counterpoint to the overly grim, horribly disjointed and very disappointing Batman vs Superman. But now that it’s out, it actually sits just below Batman vs Superman on Rotten Tomatoes! So what happened? Well, let’s take a look.
Taking place shortly after Batman vs Superman, and with the realization that humanity got lucky that the alien demigod we called Superman happened to be a good guy, Amanda Waller (Viola Davis) decides to put together a team of misfit and criminal meta-humans that they can call upon in the event that the next Superman that comes isn’t quite so friendly. Such is the half-baked argument that is presented to the government – and us, the audience – as to why we’re getting the Suicide Squad. And this, unfortunately sets the tone for nearly everything else that follows in the film: A poorly thought out idea that initially sounds legit until you apply more than a second’s attention to the details. This applies not to just the story beats, but to the characters and their motivations and how they will be treated going forward in the DCU.
Now, I like David Ayer’s films. They’re dark, they’re gritty, they’re nuanced and are filled with the types of characters that feel real. Suicide Squad, as it is now, does not seem to have much of that. While I do enjoy seeing the characters from the comics and games and animated shows in live action on the big screen, it feels more like the concern was to make sure that our criminal protagonists were likable as opposed to trying to truly depict who they were and how they react with each other and the circumstances they find themselves in.
Case in point is Will Smith’s Deadshot. While Will does a great job with the character and seems to have a lot of fun playing the world’s most dangerous assassin, his character is portrayed more as the guy who does bad things because he just wants to provide for his daughter. He’s the affable family man who occasionally kills people because he’s good at it. Harley Quinn’s (Margot Robbie) characterization is another one that, while I enjoyed, has some flaws. Well, one major one, really. It’s in the last ten to fifteen minutes of the film, and pretty much ruins the core of who Harley Quinn is as a character. As this is a spoiler free review, I won’t get into it, but let’s just say that it is the very antithesis of who Harley is, and it’s presented as her greatest desire.
The rest of the Suicide Squad cast is actually pretty great in their respective roles, with Jai Courtney getting quite a bit of love for finally being a charismatic actor that seems to get the audience engaged. His incarnation of Captain Boomerang is one the film’s comedic strong suits, and he seems to be more in line with the idea of a “don’t give a shit” villain. He’s not likeable because of some contrived plot device – he’s likeable because he’s him! Something I wish would have been more present in the writing.
One big gripe for me was the music for the film. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy the songs that were picked, and I don’t mind having actual songs in a film to set the mood or tone for what’s coming up. But my complaint lies mainly in the fact the we were given wall to wall music throughout, and I can’t remember any of it being any actual score written for the film. On Wikipedia, Steven Price has a “Music By” credit, but I’m wondering if “Music Supervisor” might be more accurate, because if he did write any of the score, I honestly can’t remember any of it from the film.
With the news of the reshoots for this film in the wake of the complaints and general critical hate that Batman v Superman received, it’s certain that the finished product that we got wasn’t the originally intended film from Ayer. Reshooting for more humor and cutting Jared Leto’s Joker down to a handful of scenes hindered this film more than it helped. I guess we’ll just have to wait for the release of David Ayer’s own Ultimate Edition, where he hopefully gets to present his original vision.
If you’re looking for a fun popcorn action movie and you don’t know much about the comics or the characters, then go see Suicide Squad. Maybe a matinée, though. Otherwise, go watch the animated film Assault on Arkham, a much better Suicide Squad movie, which I wish they would have taken more cues from.