So, Suicide Squad.
Yes I saw it. In my defense, ticket’s were $8 and I’m a sucker for bad films.
I’ll try to stay light on spoilers, but there will be some. I went in with some pretty heavy preconceptions – a general dislike of DC based films and Jared Leto, parts of fandom’s creepy romanticisation of Joker and Harley, the rumours that it sidelined Arrow’s version of the Sqaud, being fairly ho-hum about the advertising, Amanda Waller not being played by CCH Pounder etc. And thats without the recent discovery that, of all people, Shia LaBeouf could have been in it. So, now that I’ve seen it, what did I think?
Eh. A solid 6/10.*
Look, there was a lot stacked against the film. The stories of Leto’s on set behaviour were one thing but director David Ayer’s all but torturing the cast takes it up a notch. As the story goes, try acting – it’s much easier. Anyhow, about the film. Then there’s the rumours of arguments over the final cut, large numers of deleted or alternate scenes, reshoots to add humour, executive meddling and a general panic over the reaction to Dawn of Justice, and really, it’s almost amazing we got as good a film as we did.
For starters, Will Smith is genuinely great in this. I’ve not seen a lot of his recent work, but I understand why he was cast. The guy has charisma and the fact this isn’t a vanity project for one of his children may have helped as well. Viola Davis knocked it out of the park as Amanda Waller, showing just how hard as nails the character is. True, she’s not CCH Pounder, but she looks more like comics Waller than Arrow’s version and that alone is worth something. Hell, I’d say she did as good a job as Pounder would have done.
EDIT: In the cold (Actually warm and extremely fucking unwelcome) light of day I realized that what I’ve just said about Davis is a pretty shitty backhanded compliment and I meant no such thing. She does a hell of a job, and managed to both overcome my bias and win me over. (I’ve not seen her other work, so it wasn’t anything to do with her, merely the typecasting in my head) There’s a moment about 2/3rd’s of the way through where you get a no holds barred, no beg your pardons reminder of why you don’t fuck with Amanda Waller and Davis sells it like a boss. For her, it’s just another day at the office. Maniacs, serial killers, costumed weirdos and extra dimensional magicians – Amanda Waller does not care for your shit. So yes, major compliments to Viola Davis on her performance and for managing to not knock the fuck out out of Jared Leto.
Batfleck is great in his limited screen time and the hints at future movies are far less clumsy ‘Let’s introduce the Justice League’ like what we saw in Dawn of Justice. They aren’t great, but they aren’t as bad. Robbie, for all the time the trailers spent focusing on her body, also does a great Harley Quinn. It’s not that the cast are terrible, they do well with what they have to work with. It’s more what they have to do that’s the problem.
The villain’s plot is kinda pointless and lacking in build-up, the military mostly serve as red-shirts to make the main cast look competent and Captain Boomerang (While played by an actual Australian) mostly exists for comic relief and to produce beers from nowhere. There’s also large stretches of the film with very little threat – the first time we see the villain’s minions, there’s a brief moment where it seems casualties could ensue, but from then on it’s fight scene shaky cam and we know the main cast heroes are going to be fine. I mean, you don’t cast the likes of Will Smith just to kill him – we’re not making Executive Decision here.
Now we come to the Joker. Much has been written about Leto’s Joker, and yeah… It’s not great. (For the record, my Joker of choice is Mark Hamill, closely followed by Cesar Romero) It seems an attempt at a younger, edgier Joker, but I’m not seeing it. Also, since his plotline isn’t really related to the rest of the film, you probably could have cut most of his screentime and not affected the film a bit. Hell, that would have given you more time to introduce the main players, develop the relationships between them or just be able to read the bios that flashed up on screen for about 5 seconds. Katana basically got nothing – her background was explained by Rick Flagg in about 20 seconds.
And as for the soundtrack, it was another mess. I can understand why they used it (That being it was the one part of the trailer people liked), but the use of rock songs as character motif trick both isn’t used and is overused. And can someone explain to me what Black Sabbath’s Paranoid has to do with Harley Quinn? It would have made more sense to play it when Joker’s on screen, but making sense isn’t the strong point of Zack Snyder’s DC Cinematic Murderverse** (io9’s joke, not mine. I only wish I’d thought of a line that good ). It almost seems as if they watched Guardians of the Galaxy and learned all the wrong lessons.
Look, I don’t want to trash the film outright. There’s bits that worked and worked well. And for all it’s flaws, it wasn’t Green Lantern. The DC films are improving, but still aren’t quite there yet. At least the TV shows are doing well…
*Also, I also didn’t want to buy any of the cast’s costumes.
** Which the rumoured Booster Gold movie apparently won’t be a part of