Anticipation was hot for this one. The DCEU had pretty rocky ‘start’ with the critical failure of Batman v Superman a few months ago, the internet became a firestorm, and the stakes for the next entry, David Ayer’s Suicide Squad, were immediately higher. This was supposed to be the film that finally gave the DCEU its footing, set it on course, and quell the overheating fan boy fears. Does it? Nope.
I will admit that the advertising for Suicide Squad was nothing short of effective. Nothing was spoiled, and it did a great job introducing the ridiculous amount of characters, and setting the admittedly unique aesthetic of the film. The reason I give a special thumbs up to the ads is because the final result matches very, very little of the potential quality in them. From the opening scenes, in which Amanda Waller (Viola Davis in probably the best performance of the movie) introduces each member of the squad in an extended and stylized sequence. It’s a contrived scene that goes on quite a bit too long. It’s followed by a scene that sets up the main villain in what seems like a break-neck 90 second sequence. These pretty much set the pace for the rest of the film which varies from way too goddamn slow, to absurdly fast.
Another big ole problem is the script. I couldn’t tell you how many dopey one-liners and clichés nearly made my face fucking implode. There are so many. Some of them land, mind you, with Will Smith’s Deadshot (amazingly) and Jai Courtney (also incredibly) being the most tolerable out of the bunch. The plot itself, though, is paper thin. The villain wants to destroy the world with a blue lazer that shoots into the sky and collects debris. The stupid, unexplained points are covered with some pretty obvious lamp-shading (that is the deflection of absurdity in a plot via acknowledging its absurdity. Will Smith makes jokes about how there’s trash floating in the sky, and a silly remark about how Amanda Waller survives the encounter with the villain to cover up the fact that they make no fucking sense. It’s the type of lazy ass writing that pervades the movie throughout.
Back to the characters. Will Smith is fine, Jai Courtney is fine, and Jay Hernandez as El Diablo is probably the biggest surprise, in regards to the fact I enjoyed watching him on screen unlike many of the others. Margot Robbie plays a disappointing Harley Quinn, who’s only purpose seems to be a sexy comic relief, while Jared Leto’s Joker doesn’t even reach that level of relevancy. He feels like an afterthought, as no scenes he’s in effect the overall plot at all. It’s like he’s there purely out of fan service. He never feels threatening either, and instead exists just as a high end thug. Also in regards to this squad, there are an absurd number of stereotypes. The Asian has a Katana, the Australian has a boomerang, the Hispanic is a gangbanger, Killer Croc is a black gangster stereotype (for some reason???) and a militant white guy leads the way. It’s a setup that leaves a bad taste in my mouth. Finally, Cara Delevingne’s Enchantress is a downright shit villain. Her big final climax scene near the end is a clusterfuck of CGI, and bad acting. She has this overbearingly goofy attempt at a villainous accent, as well as this even goofier evil dance she just walks around doing. What should have been threatening was more downright cringey.
The soundtrack in this movie is also an outlier in terms of being godawful. Every stereotypical vanilla movie rock song from CCR’s Fortunate Son, The White Stripe’s Seven Nation Army, and Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap what used at every opportunity. Then Eminem and Kanye West show up out of nowhere too. This type of post-production decision, along with the janky pacing, and seemingly unnecessary and misplaced joker scenes that make me think that the studio is behind these fuck ups. David Ayer has proven himself to be an able-bodied filmmaker. And there’s definitely the makings of a good film somewhere in here. Several of the characters are entertaining, a handful of action scenes are pretty fun to watch, a few of the quieter scenes work pretty well too, and tons of potential is visible with Harley Quinn and the Joker.
The problems visible in Suicide Squad make me think that the problem of the DCEU lies mainly with Warner Bros’ meddling. The same issues (pacing, script, characters) were all present in Batman V Superman too. It’s becoming a big problem at this point. I want to be excited for Wonder Woman and Justice League next year, but the studio has to get their shit together if they really want establish themselves and (eventually) stack up to the Marvel juggernaut.