a review by the Crow
I have a special relationship with comic books. On one hand, I don’t read the things (with a few exceptions over the years). I don’t buy them and follow the storylines panel to panel. Instead, I read up on story arcs from Wikis and other online resources since I’m fascinated by the incredible vastness – and the maddening convolutions – the form of media contains.
Suicide Squad is not a comic book series I’ve followed much. That said, Amanda Waller, Deadshot, Killer Croc, Harley Quinn, and the Joker are all characters I know well. Growing up in the years that Batman: The Animated Series was the new thing on the block, I have a special place for all of these characters in my mind. Many of you might know that Harley Quinn was first introduced in the animated series, and went on to become a fan favourite character, eventually becoming a regular character in the Batman mythos (albeit a sort-of reboot of Duela Dent, a.k.a. “The Joker’s Daughter”).
So, what did I think while heading into Suicide Squad? Well, not much. The sheer scale and intensity of the marketing had me slightly worried that what I’d thought might be a fun action movie might be hollow on the inside. I mean, how often is it that a trailer will basically be all of the movie, these days? Someone really needs to smack the numpties who make such decisions for marketing movies upside the head.
THOUGHTS ON PLOT, ETC.
WARNING: THIS SECTION CONTAINS SOME [MINOR] SPOILERS
Suicide Squad is both written and directed by David Ayer, and is the third film in the DC Extended Universe, following Man of Steel and Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice.
In the movie, Amanda Waller – a high-ranking government official – intends to recruit a group of (mostly) baddies and groups them together so that they can, in her own words, be used to “do some good”. Things quickly go to pot elsewhere, and the team is rushed in to save the day.
Waller keeps the baddies under control via the use of small explosive devices injected into their necks (Kurt Russell and Lee van Cleef would like a short word). These devices make up a not-exactly-small plot point, of course, and at least one is seen in action.
Waller manages to tie the movie up quite well. I was very impressed with Viola Davis’ performance. This is the Amanda Waller I want to see.
Aside from all this, there’s the Joker and his storyline. If you’re excited to see Jared Leto’s interpretation of the clown prince of crime, don’t set your hopes too high. The dude’s in the movie for all of about five minutes-ish. Apart from his yearning to be reunited with Harley, we don’t know what his motivations are or how he fits into the DCEU just yet.
We do, however, get a quick origin story, handled excellently through proxy by Harley herself. I’m not yet completely sold on this new Joker, but that’s a discussion for another time.
Being a film about villains, the film features numerous …well… villains. From this point on, I’ll talk about the main antagonists (the ones who’ve caused “things to go to pot”).
And one of them (The Dragon) is handled exceptionally poorly. His counterpart – our main villain – is marginally better, and is certainly a force to be reckoned with, but falls flat on multiple occasions.
The main villain’s plan presents a Planetary Threat on the Sliding Scale of Villain Threat, executed through shenanigans limited to a single city. However, the motivations behind the plan itself ring hollow, although it could’ve been easily fixed through just a few additional scenes and a bit more dialogue.
There’s a scene which happens close to the big battle at the end of the movie which really peeved me. (Redundant spoiler alert:) When the “Dragon” dies, the main villain’s reaction lasts far too short, considering the relationship they share, and the whole scene reduces a mostly pointless character to an even further level of inconsequentiality.
Overall, I’d like to just put it out there that this movie tries to be too much all at once. In light of that, more time would be good; or perhaps, a fewer number of things going on.
EXECUTION AND STUFF
Here’s where things get a little murky. This movie feels like it’s not by the one director (and as more has come to light, we know that there were multiple people with their hands in this pie). I won’t be delving too deep into these waters, though. I’ll leave my thoughts about all that out for a separate rant.
This movie is incredibly choppy. There are some clever ways they’ve covered up the choppiness when introducing the characters in the beginning, but as the film progresses, the choppiness makes certain scenes annoying as all heck. I mean, how much footage do they have left over? Let’s face it: they probably just want you to buy the DVD/Blu-Ray for any plot-bridging bits they’ve actually shot.
Two of the biggest blunders thanks to this choppy editing are:
- The main villain’s “escape” and related things. We get hit by: explanations of how certain things happened, the timeline between the initial tits-up, the appearance of our Suicide Squad in the city, and the weapon (a BFB) they’ll use in the final battle only about three quarters into the movie.
- Harleen Quinzel’s “Harley-ification”. This one is a much smaller blunder, but certain bits of this seemed very out of place. It’s almost as if the character was bouncing around various stages of going from psychiatrist to full-on clown girl murderess in the scenes we saw of her transformation.
Another little problem I have with the editing has everything to do with the marketing of the film itself.
It’s clear that a lot of scenes were cut from the movie (the evidence is clear in the trailers; I really “hope you got insurance”), but some of the jokes are felt funnier in the context presented in the trailers than in the movie itself.
Oh, and don’t think you’ll be laughing at the choice of drink joke, either. That’s one of the many things not in the film. (Thank heck they didn’t include the “grunts” from the movie in the trailers, at least.)
And then there’s the CGI.
For the love of all that is holy, please ease up with this a bit, DC (and everyone else). Certain scenes involving The Dragon’s use of his powers are just really annoying to watch. Just a little more toned down and easier to see clearly would be nice. I know it’s a lot of extra work, but it’d be great if you’d just care a little more.
Turns out the only real positive I have to include in this section is the music.
The music is pretty stellar, overall. However, it falls into the old trap of signalling to the audience what things we should be feeling. Yes: I don’t like it either, but with a movie like Suicide Squad, I’m inclined to let this problem pass. Let’s face it: this ain’t exactly high art.
CHARACTERS AND OTHER ANIMALS
AMANDA WALLER 9/10
Like I said before, I loved Viola Davis’ performance in this movie.
Will Smith as Deadshot was amazing. There’s a certain complexity to his character by way of his daughter. He didn’t necessarily do anything particularly special, however. It could well be he just fit the assassin’s shoes really well. I have only one question: why the hell is the monocle on the wrong side of his face?!
HARLEY QUINN 8.5/10
I wasn’t thrilled with the idea of Harley Quinn on screen when I first heard about this. Then the trailers popped up, and I was pleasantly surprised. I’d like to see Margot Robbie as Harley Quinn again. I’m surprised they had her go through the Ace Chemicals treatment (although it works as a way to show the Joker’s origin as well). In light of that, I’m going to think of this Harley Quinn as a different character from the one in the series.
All that said… I do, however, have a major problem relating to Ms Quinn. However, it’s something I’ll address in my “closing thoughts”.
CAPTAIN BOOMERANG 7/10
I thought he did rather well. Pretty fun all-around. A man who cracks open a beer at the first sight of a fistfight is someone I could see myself having the craic with.
EL DIABLO 8/10
By far my favourite character in the movie when it comes to characters I know little to nothing about. I would’ve loved to see a little more about his backstory, but what ended up in the film was more or less sufficient. This guy is fucking awesome and I’m not happy with the conclusion they gave him. Not one bit (thanks, David! You mug!).
The only real issue I have with this character is that his switching on of his powers seem to be too effortless. I would’ve liked to see a bit more effort on his face. We do get a bit nearabouts the end, but for the rest of the movie, he just straight up grills whole bunches of baddies like it’s no problemo.
Cara Delevingne is pretty wooden as Dr June Moone. As Enchantress, she’s even more so. I don’t have a big problem with her performance overall, although I do have a problem with the casting choice (someone with a better acting calibre would’ve been far, far better), but what I want to know is… what in the fuck is she wearing half the damn time?! I mean, seriously?! She’s also got this muddy shit all over her when in Cave-Witch mode. Also: no green? Really? Just the heart is green? I mean, she gets a bit colourful later on, but…
RICK FLAG 4/10
Not much to say. He’s okay, I guess. Bit of an idiot, is all.
KILLER CROC 6/10
I quite enjoyed this take on the character. I was a bit on edge all the way up to my actual viewing of the movie. They did a good job with a difficult concept. He certainly is beautiful.
THE JOKER ?/10
Not much to go on, really. And no, I don’t think it’s likely the studio’s going to end up revealing this Joker’s really Jason Todd (another conversation for a different time).
This woman only exists in the movie so that Harley can have her sword right at the end, and to potentially give our main villain an “out”. A complete and utter waste of an intriguing new character. Hell, I’d be inclined to watch a movie just about her. Sounds like it might be fun.
THE BATMAN -1/10
Okay, so… let the record straight that while I think Ben Affleck’s a pretty good actor, I didn’t like Batman v Superman, and I have a pretty sizeable issue with this new take on the character. He looks pretty alright in general, and has a nice intro scene, but I’m not concerned with any of that right now. I’m going to focus on one scene in specific.
The kiss. What the fuck happened there? And don’t any of you give me that CPR crap. There was no CPR involved there. That was a straight up surprise-kiss. What? Is this Batman a fan of struggle-snuggles, too?
Let’s wrap this up shall we?
Overall, I’m as divided as any other, really. I enjoyed the “big, dumb action movie”-ness of it all. But, the errors in the film are glaring. The action scenes themselves (the bits involving baseball bats and close-range fire) are pretty good. The CGI bits (barring El Diablo’s fire) are a bit annoying and jarring. The Dragon had a pretty cool design about him, I guess, but the execution was shoddy at best, especially in light of how little he shows up.
Now, I mentioned earlier that there was something I wanted to say about Harley Quinn. Here it is.
Imagine yourself as Amanda Waller. You’re putting together this superteam, yes? You’ve got Deadshot, a class marksman; Flag, a class soldier; Croc, a monster of considerable might; Boomerang, who I guess is useful; Katana, a class swordswoman; Diablo, a one-man army; Slipknot, to… well, climb things; and so on and so forth.
Where exactly, in said team, is there a need for this movie’s version of Harley Quinn?! What’s she add to it? Is she some sort of cheerleader for the team? Their bartender? Why the heck is she, armed with a baseball bat and a cool revolver, there?
Now, I have a simple solution to this. Ignoring how the Joker escapes the Batman for the moment, if Amanda Waller wanted to use Harley Quinn to sniff out the Joker, it’d have made at least some sense. However, the movie never touches on this, and therefore, I must criticise it.
Especially considering how Harley Quinn is one of our central characters, and is by far the character who’s responsible for putting the most butts in seats, this is a major flaw; one for which I’m tempted to dock off another .5 off of my final rating. I won’t just at the moment, because I’ve been told I’ve been harsh enough. But trust me, this is almost unforgivable.
Okay. Onwards, now…
I wish this had a less frantic marketing campaign. They managed to give away too many plot details and ended up ruining most of the jokes and significant scenes from the movie. Whoever panicked after the failures of Batman v Superman really should’ve sat down and had a cup of tea or something.
Recently, I’ve been saying that movies could do with slightly longer runtimes, but it’s pretty much all because they want to add more features to the DVD/Blu-Ray releases.
I won’t lie, though. It’s a fun summer movie. Just don’t take it too seriously.