“Let’s have some fun”
I’m always suspicious if a film receives exaggerated critical acclaim or an exaggerated critical mauling. In either case, it seems to be a case of critics jumping on the bandwagon in a hurry to praise or bury a film. Of course, the only way to be sure of anything is to see it for yourself. ‘Batman v Superman,’ for example, was not the car crash of a film that it was made out to be. Maybe Rotten Tomatoes is broken and in need of fixing. When the negative reviews of ‘Suicide Squad’ were released, I hoped that Rotten Tomatoes would be wrong. Unfortunately, a broken clock is right twice a day. And ‘Suicide Squad’ was a poor film with very few redeeming features.
The plot is simple, yet not efficient in the slightest. A group of “bad guys,” including Deadshot, Harley Quinn and El Diablo (and others who aren’t important in the grand scheme of things) are brought together by Amanda Weller as an elite task force to deal with a post-Superman world. Spoilers for ‘BvS’, but Superman is dead. Weller believes a group of bad guys are necessary to fight against the evils of the world of ‘metahumans.’ What if Superman was evil? Who could stop him from ripping off the roof of the White House and killing the President? Conveniently, a threat reveals itself moments after the so-called Suicide Squad are assembled. So Weller sends these bad guys to save a very important person caught in the middle of the threat in Midway City. As an incentive, the bad guys have explosives injected in their necks, Snake Plissen-style.
When I say that other members of the Suicide Squad aren’t important, I am not over-exaggerating. In the first half an hour of the film, we see in-depth flashbacks for Deadshot and Harley Quinn. They are painted as sympathetic characters: Quinn was given electro-shock therapy by The Joker when she was a psychotherapist, and Deadshot assassinated people to provide for his estranged daughter. The others are given only the briefest of flashbacks, if any at all. Each flashback is accompanied by thirty seconds of a pop/rock song, just enough to tease us and leave us disappointed that we didn’t hear more of the song. In fact, that’s a perfect metaphor for most of the film.
“Where’s your heart?”
The deluge of information at the beginning of the film robs the characters of much of their character, ironically. Other, minor members of the Squad such as Killer Croc and Katana are given the thinnest of backstories, dialogue and moments. Captain Boomerang is merely a caricature of Australian stereotypes. The same could be said of Katana. It’s hard to form any opinion about Killer Croc. Katana and Killer Croc could have been dropped from the script without harming the film. Too many characters spoil the broth. Deadshot and Quinn are given the most screen time, but even they are drowned out by the extended cast of characters. Oh yeah, I almost forgot about The Joker, as did the editors of the film, apparently. It’s difficult to say anything about The Joker, given his glorified cameo in the film. Suffice to say, he made little impression. But neither did anyone else.
There are ways to introduce a wide cast of characters without overloading the viewer with information and/or minimalizing less important characters. See the original ‘X-Men’ film, for example. We get a feel for each character with the greatest of ease. But, strangely enough, the introductory act of ‘Suicide Squad’ is the most entertaining part, partly because of the visual intensity and partly because it distracts us from the plot. When the plot does get going, things trudge into all-too familiar super-hero territory. Our gang quip, sometimes reminisce about their normal lives, fight literally faceless enemies (well, they have faces made of blackberries), and end up in a CGI-filled final battle with a vague threat of planet earth’s destruction at stake. The quips, more often than not, come off as desperate and unfunny. We see our Squad in action for the first time at night, in smoke. You can barely see what’s happening! Surely the point of an action scene is to see what’s going on? And if you’ve seen any film pitting a team of characters against a final threat, you’ve seen the final battle of ‘Suicide Squad.’ Every member’s special ability is shoehorned into a battle that could have easily been resolved by one member.
“Do your worst, bitch”
And I haven’t even mentioned the scrappy, almost careless editing. If you’ve been following the production of ‘Suicide Squad,’ you’ll have heard that reshoots and re-editing took place after the critical lambasting of ‘BvS.’ Throughout the film, it’s apparent that scenes have been edited or cut beyond comprehension. Some parts are incredibly difficult to follow. While some films are edited intentionally to look like a mess, ‘Suicide Squad’ reeks of studio hands interfering in the film and fiddling with director David Ayer’s vision for the film.
‘Suicide Squad’ is meant to be about bad guys, but none of the squaddies (can I call them that?) feel like bad guys. They are misunderstood, haunted by past demons or upset about their estranged daughter. The worst crime I saw in the film from the squaddies was Harley Quinn stealing a purse. Weller is more of a villain that the squad combined, as she shoots five employees without a second thought. Maybe that’s the point. But as Tony Soprano taught us, we can sympathise with a bad person when they do really, really bad things. Why not try that with the Suicide Squad? Allow our characters to commit heinous crimes while giving them a hint of sympathy.
My real problem with ‘Suicide Squad’ is that it never delivered what it promised: something different to the usual superhero film. Just like ‘Deadpool,’ (click here for my review!) we were promised something that would shake off the reigns of the generic superhero story and give us an unpredictable riot of a film. At least ‘Deadpool’ had plenty of humour to cover its flaws. ‘Suicide Squad’ is not an unpredictable riot of a film. It’s boring. It’s poorly editied. It’s over-stuffed with characters to the point that about half the ‘Suicide Squad’ are pointless. Its few action scenes are uninspired and indecipherable at times. It’s humourless for most of its running time. The Joker feels like a half-baked addition to the film to give non-comic readers a known comic book personality to see. It’s not the worst summer blockbuster of the year. That title surely goes to ‘Independence Day: Resurgence.’ But it is a terrible waste of a comic book franchise that had plenty of potential.
VERDICT: 3/10. Suicide Sqaud is a two hour trailer for a film that’s buried under studio interference. There are hints of a decent film, but we are left with a poorly edited mess that follows the template for the generic comic book film.
What did you think? Leave your comments below!
Click here to read my review of ‘Man of Steel’ (2013)
Click here to read my review of ‘Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016)