So I watched Suicide Squad…
If there’s one thing that Dawn of Justice taught me it’s that the DC Extended Universe (or DCEU) needs patience. Patience from both its creators and – most importantly – its audience. This movie has been receiving a lot of negative reviews and I think a few of them are unreasonable. You don’t have to like this movie but there’s no need to make it seem like an atrocity to mankind. Is it a perfect movie? No. Is it the worst way to spend two hours of your time? A resounding no.
Okay, basic plot: Following the death of Superman, Amanda Waller (Viola Davis) – a high-profile government intelligence agent – suggests that the US government assemble a taskforce to defend them against the growing metahuman threat. Waller thinks that this taskforce shouldn’t be comprised of trained soldiers or even superheroes but rather criminals. She gathers the worst of the worst from ace hitman, Deadshot (Will Smith) to crazed former psychiatrist, Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie). Waller bends the villains to her will by enticing them with promises of shorter jail time; but no matter what the result of their mission, each of them faces death.
I think this film could have greatly benefited from its script undergoing one final rewrite before shooting. There are elements of true creativity and fun desperately trying to break through the web of cliche, mundane and subpar writing that the film is cursed with. This film needed an R-rating and is shackled by its obligatory PG-13 sweetness. This is meant to be a movie about villains, scumbags, people without any moral centres being forced into doing the right thing but it never feels like that.The characters on their own are entertaining and fun but they aren’t rich or engaging, and this is 100% due to the lukewarm nature with which they are written. It’s quite evident that the characters had to be diluted and cleaned up to meet the requirements for a PG-13 movie. This strips them of a lot of heart and makes them feel more like vandals than true villains.
Though I didn’t think the writing lived up to the billing, the acting more than made up for it. Suicide Squad wisely puts Will Smith in at quarterback and relies on his charisma and swagger to launch it into the end-zone. Will Smith is marvelous as Deadshot and justifies his lionshare of the screentime with a performance full of magnetic charm and pin-point comedic timing. Smith isn’t alone at the helm with Margot Robbie also featuring as a central figure. I’ve been watching animated TV shows and movies featuring Harley Quinn for well over fifteen years now and I have to say that Robbie’s version is my favourite. It was as if Harley Quinn literally walked out of a cartoon. She was funny, crazy, unpredictable and Robbie’s performance absolutely spot on. Though I have to praise the entire cast’s performance. Jay Hernandez as El Diablo and Viola Davis as Amanda Waller were other standouts. Even though the characters were thinly-written, the strength of the acting behind them more than makes up for it.
I try not to read reviews of movies before I’ve seen them; but it’s impossible not to pick up chatter and the majority of the chatter surrounding this movie is focused on the absence of The Joker. There were apparently numerous scenes that featured The Joker cut out from the final film and this has a few people up in arms. Now, I’m not a comic-book nerd – I’m a movie-geek – so I don’t know how it played out in the comics; but for the purposes of this film I think that the little bit of Joker we saw was more than sufficient. This is a story about The Suicide Squad of which Joker is not a member so why would we expect to see a great deal of him? He shows up from time to time and I enjoyed seeing him but I’m glad, director and screenwriter of this film, David Ayer kept him in the periphery.
I was initially apprehensive about Jared Leto’s Joker based off that first image we saw of him. I began warming up to him after seeing him in the first trailer and I have to say that I loved what I saw in the film. Leto was extremely brave to take on this role with Heath Ledger’s iconic Joker still so fresh in our minds and he does a stellar job. He fully immerses himself in this character and crafts a unique and distinct Clown Prince. This is a Joker who feels more like a career criminal than we’ve previously seen and I can’t wait to see him square up against Batman.
My biggest grievance with this film – beside David Ayer’s vapid script – was with the score. A lot of people are calling this film a poor man’s Guardians of the Galaxy and I think a lot of that has to do with this film’s music. As with Guardians the film features a lot of melodic songs but unfortunately the songs don’t lend themselves very well to the scenes they accompany. Composer, Steven Price gets it absolutely wrong and the songs feel like tacked-on abominations instead of harmonious accompaniment.
I hate to keep piling on but I also don’t think David Ayer’s direction of this film was the best. The action sequences feel empty because he chooses to add far too many cuts to them and his placement of the camera leaves you unable to take any of it in. I do think Ayer is a talented writer and director and if he’s chosen to carry this franchise or other DC properties forward, he needs more focus and artistry in his directing and writing.
Overall, Suicide Squad is a film with plenty of flaws but these can all be overlooked because of one key element – it’s fun! Will Smith and Margot Robbie lead a talented group of actors through a story that could have been written better but still manages to make you laugh and entertain you. It’s worth watching 6/10