Suicide Squad

Suicide Squad ★★½

Suicide Squad is the latest entry in Warner Brothers’ attempt at creating its very own interconnected superhero universe. Similar to their last entry, “Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice”, Suicide Squad is receiving many of the same complaints as its predecessor. The difference here is that Suicide Squad isn’t helmed by a visionary director like Zack Snyder.

Ayer’s direction is competent enough for his previous films like Fury, and End of Watch, but here he stumbles. Ayer has too much on his plate, having to follow the poorly received Batman v. Superman, while creating a visually striking film that features 10-12 main characters who duke it out against an endless stream of baddies. The final result is a juggling act where Ayer is constantly dropping the ball. He juggles all these character introductions, plot points, music, emotions and dialogue and is only able to keep one or two balls in the air at a time.

Usually, that ball he keeps in the air the most is the blaring soundtrack. In your face without fitting into the narrative, the music is outrageously out of place. Trying to reach the heights of Guardians of the Galaxy’s fantastic soundtrack, Ayer packs as many great hits in at once to hook the audience, but instead creates an extremely jarring effect. It especially doesn’t help when the earsplitting tunes overpower the voice of Viola Davis’ Amanda Waller as she introduces the members of her Task Force X in the film’s 40 minute montage.

That montage is by far the worst part of the film. It’s as if Ayer watched 2004’s “Spider-Man 2” one too many times, and saw that you can jam an origin story film into the opening credits. He takes this idea and applies it to five of the members of the Suicide Squad. Except here he gives them full scenes and sequences filled with small cameos that bring you out of the film. After getting over the fact that Batman is just awkwardly standing around in the background of your shot, and you start to get into a new character, Ayer decides to cut away to Waller continuing her montage, introducing yet another character.

After the hour mark hits, the film finally starts with an inciting incident that happens to also be the main conflict of the film. The team begins to assemble, and we stray away from the music blasting moments and we see scenes with real characters and dialogue. Small character moments are put on display. A notable one is where Will Smith’s Deadshot given his opportunity to show off his marksmanship. As the team is sent on their mission, we learn small tidbits about the members’ backstory that furthers the emotion of the film.

The emotion of the film is the most redeeming quality here, and Ayer can hit this note in all of his films. The relationship between Smith’s Deadshot and his daughter is touching and adds some weight and depth to Smith’s character. El Diablo, played by Jay Hernandez, carries the other half of the emotional weight of the film. His backstory and his pacifism shows that Ayer was attempting to tell a story with deep characters. Emphasis on trying here, because besides Deadshot and El Diablo, the rest of the characters are two dimensional plot devices. Yes, even Harley Quinn and the Joker don’t reach the heights of Smith and Hernandez’s characters.

Some other faults of the film are the visuals. Although the trailers and promotional material for Suicide Squad try to convince you that it’s a bright and colorful film, it’s as dark and gloomy as “Batman v. Superman” without having any of the sharp cinematography or well choreographed action sequences. It also seems that Warner Bros. decides to spend more money on the visual effects for the end credits than they did the actual film. Cara Delevinge’s character, Enchantress, is a witch that dances and glides her way through clouds of smoke. Although most of her visual effects are convincing, there are moments of glaringly obvious superimposing with terrible lighting effects. Many shots of the film suffer from what seems like unfinished CG effects.

Suicide Squad suffers the most from it’s terrible plot and story. Amanda Waller shares similar motivations to Batman, and decides to assemble villains as a deterrent to any potential threat comparable to that of Superman. Instead, her efforts only incite a threat, therefore requiring the Task Force X to act. Attempting to keep the Suicide Squad in the dark, Waller and her right hand man, Rick Flag, also keep the audience in the dark about their mission. At one point, I realized they were on a rescue mission, only due to context clues seconds before they rescue their target. Afterwords, the film tries to find more plot points to bridge its dull second act to the third. Even after with an out, the team decides to continue their mission because of the team bond that they pulled out of their asses. The only real bonding felt in the film was that between Quinn and Deadshot. However sometimes it came off as confusing sexual tension. Ayer attempts to make the team seem like their a family, but they only have one or two moments to bond in between the senseless and unimpressive action, which you can equate to mere shoot ‘em up sequences.

Although there is a lot to dislike here, Suicide Squad offers enough positives to make the experience at least mildly entertaining. What Suicide Squad succeeds in doing that “Batman v. Superman” and “Man of Steel” were unable to capture was any sense of humor. Deadshot benefits from Will Smith’s natural charisma and delivers snarky lines. Margot Robbie nails it on the head (with her giant mallet) creating a funny and sexy character. Although not as deep as flashbacks and dream sequences make her out to be, she provides levity to many of the darkly toned scenes. Jai Courtney’s Captain Boomerang and Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje’s Killer Croc, although not given much screen time, both shine and are able to conjure up a few laughs as well. Ike Barinholtz, who plays a security guard at the Bell Reeve penitentiary. He may somehow have more screen time than characters like Slipknot and Katana, and makes sure not to waste a single second of it.

One thing about Suicide Squad that I didn’t expect was that I’d like Joel Kinnaman’s character, Rick Flag. He performs as a great team leader and isn’t just a generic special-ops military man. Another surprise here was the use of the Joker. I didn’t anticipate much screen time here, but Jared Leto is unable to leave a consistent impression here. He’s the maniacal and insane clown at some moments, while acting as a level-headed mobster at others, Jared Leto isn’t given enough opportunity here to prove himself.

One final gripe about the film is Cara Delevingne’s character June Moone. The majority of the film, she is possessed by the witch character, Enchantress, but when she embodies June Moone, all she does is cry and obsess over Rick Flagg. When she goes back to Enchantress, she literally just dances around with a dubbed voice. It goes back and forth, dancing, crying over boyfriend, dancing, crying over boyfriend. I’m really surprised Cara accepted this role. Despite her character displaying the most amount of power out of any meta-human in the film, she’s the least empowering character for a woman.

Although enjoyable at times, with small character moments and convincing emotion, Suicide Squad doesn’t pack a punch. It’s poor visuals and story outweigh anything that it had going for it.

—Is it really 10 more months until another DCEU movie is released? I really shouldn’t hold my breath if the film turns out to be anything like Suicide Squad. With the recent shuffle in executives at Warner Bros., hopefully their course correction will prevent them for releasing anymore films like Suicide Squad.

Tyler liked this review