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Suicide Squad boasts a talented cast and a little more humor than previous DCEU efforts, but they aren't enough to save the disappointing end result from a muddled plot, thinly written characters, and choppy directing.
Suicide Squad boasts a talented cast and a little more humor than previous DCEU efforts, but they aren't enough to save the disappointing end result from a muddled plot, thinly written characters, and choppy directing.
All Critics (350)
| Top Critics (54)
| Fresh (96)
| Rotten (254)
| DVD (4)
Based on the screening I attended, I can attest that audiences seemed to genuinely enjoy the jokes and get swept up in the action sequences.
To say that the movie loses the plot would not be strictly accurate, for that would imply that there was a plot to lose.
If I have not yet convinced you of the movie's astonishingly slipshod quality, I'm unlikely ever to do so.
Writer-director David Ayer doesn't have the right graphic technique for a comic-book-style jamboree -- he's strictly a noirish-pulp guy -- and the characters, all of whom are promisingly introduced, fizzle fast.
Regrettably, the film's place-setting opening lays the scene for a different, more exciting film that never really unfolds.
Sometimes it's good to be bad. In Suicide Squad's case, bad is just plain bad. It gives villainy a bad name.
It's overstuffed with a rather conventional villain and story, yet it also manages to build up enough good will thanks to three standout performances.
But is it fun? Well, if you can ignore the blatant stereotypes and ham-fisted dialogue, perhaps. Also if you can ignore the film's dismal view of women. And its soundtrack.
This film felt like tiny stories all thrown together at once with no real character or plot development. By the time you truly understand the purpose of the villain's existence, you are already in the final act...
Woefully sketchy and missing the fueled opulence that one would expect emerging from this cockeyed costume caper, 'Suicide Squad' is a detonating dud for the missing explosive DC Comics movie brand
[Feels] all at once like an irritating wallow in the paint-huffing waste-of-skin teenage version of anarchic excess and the infuriatingly fake, phony, mass-market corporate co-opting of the paint-huffing waste-of-skin teenage version of anarchic excess.
Suicide Squad plays like a graphic novel brought to life. It's a fun action romp with some great turns from a bunch of actors who are clearly having a blast.
It's increasingly hard to remember a time when every superhero film made wasn't made as part of a wider universe, as instalments in an ever-growing web designed to bring the head-scrambling continuity of comics to the big screen. Even with the enormous success of Christopher Nolan's Gotham trilogy, the modern approach to the comic book blockbuster is for each film to form a mere link in a seemingly infinite chain. Depending on your viewpoint, the consistency present within the Marvel Cinematic Universe is either God's gift to fandom or an accountant's wet dream, with Marvel Films churning out instalments which are marketed to the hilt as big events while essentially telling the same story over and over again.
Suicide Squad is the third instalment of DC's Extended Universe, a.k.a. the biggest and most pointless game of catch-up in cinema history. Following the mixed reception for both Man of Steel and Batman vs Superman: Dawn of Justice, this was hyped to the gills as the time when DC would get it right. In hindsight, it's a good thing that Wonder Woman game along the year after to set things on the proper path; while it has much by way of disposable spectacle, it amounts to little more in the end than a disappointing muddle.
Even a relative outsider like myself, whose knowledge of DC Comics comes primarily from film adaptations, can see the potential in Suicide Squad's basic story. There is a rich tradition in Hollywood and trash cinema of a disreputable bunch of heavies - whether criminals, ex-soldiers or anything else - who are sent into the pits of hell to carry out a task that no-one else wants to do. That basic premise has inspired everything from The Dirty Dozen to Escape From New York - not to mention the 1978 revenge film Inglorious Bastards and Quentin Tarantino's similarly titled effort.
While its basic premise may amount to The Dirty Dozen in hot pants, the influence of Tarantino is writ large over Suicide Squad. This is particularly the case during the set-pieces, in which the prevalence of pop music in the soundtrack is combined with dark humour and a devil-may-care approach to violence (albeit framed for a 15 certificate). Sometimes this works rather nicely, such as during Harley Quinn's fight scene in the lift, but a lot of the time the song choices feel all too obvious or the action to accompany them is very routine. For all his faults, Tarantino always had an ear for the disjunct between music and the visual image, and there is nothing in here as witty as the Stealers' Wheel section of Reservoir Dogs.
There are other derivative touches on show as well. Cara Delevigne's performance isn't great by itself; she is visually striking, but doesn't have the deep-rooted charisma needed to wade through the special effects which grow as the film rolls on. The entire climax borrows heavily from the Galadriel scenes in The Fellowship of the Ring and by extension The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies. The witch's entire appearance is all too close to Cate Blanchett's "drowned elf" look, right down to the distorted voice, and Delevigne's dancing and arm-waving only serves to make the whole thing sillier. As if that wasn't enough, the monsters which serve as the Squad's cannon fodder resemble nothing more than pumped-up versions of the Jagaroth from the celebrated Doctor Who serial City of Death.
If you go into Suicide Squad expecting depth to rival Nolan's Batman films, you will obviously be disappointed. But even setting that aside, it is sad at just how shallow and lacking in motivation the film is. David Ayer's presence behind the camera has been a major talking point; for all the qualities of his previous films, he is essentially a workmanlike gun-for-hire, who occasionally seems lost in the more fantastical elements of the DC universe. The real auteur of this film is executive producer Zack Snyder; the whole project is so caught up in surface and style that it either fails to find time for more or it simply cannot be arsed.
What results from Snyder's presence is a film which loves to focus on the characters' costumes and striking poses, but which is deeply repetitive. This is fine in the first ten minutes or so where the characters are being introduced and the Squad is being assembled; there's a lot of welcome black humour, particularly from a well-cast Margot Robbie, which serves to separate her version of the character from that in Batman: The Animated Series. But this section also illuminates the ongoing double standard regarding costumes in comic book films; while the man are always fully suited and booted, Harley gets relatively little with which to work.
Once the mission starts, the film settles into a very predictable rhythm. It goes as follows: something blows up or attacks, lots of gunfire, then quiet, repeat until they get to the witch. Conceding to formula so easily, without resistance or hesitation, has the effect of halting any real character development; the characters begin as the supposed epitome of bad taste and tough talking, and stay that stand-offish ad nauseum. By the time we get to the bar scene, we're willing them to get on with things so much that we don't really mind whether they grow as people or not, and at the end of the film everything goes (more or less) back to the way things were.
In the face of this boilerplate tedium, you might expect Jared Leto's performance as the Joker to be just the lift that things need. There's no denying that he's visually striking, borrowing heavily from Marilyn Manson with just a touch of Alice Cooper thrown in for good measure. But while he's psychotic enough to be scary and unpredictable, he ultimately lacks the flashes of coherent insight which made Heath Ledger's Joker work. Both incarnations deal in chaos, but one is a dangerous mastermind while the other is a gun-happy playboy.
In the midst of all this mediocrity, there are things about Suicide Squad which are enjoyable. Like the early Harry Potter films, the main saving grace is the cast itself. It's nice to see Will Smith playing against type without making a big deal of it, and Robbie's performance does have a gleeful quality which sets it apart. The rest of the ensemble struggle to get the character development or screentime they deserve, but they all have little moments where they impress.
The film also has a number of moments which are very visually impressive. The best of these is the sequence involving the Joker and Harley kissing in the vat of chemicals as their respective colours blend together. It's a nice, macabre twist on the traditional origin story of the Joker which gets across the characters' insanity but also how much the latter cares for the former (whether it's reciprocated is another matter). There is enough artistry in moments like this and sections of the subway fight to make you wonder why there isn't more of it in the finished film.
Suicide Squad is a disappointment which shows just how far DC has to go to reach either Marvel's consistency or Nolan's brilliance. For all the moments in which it comes together, whether visually or narratively, it's marred by a poor script, derivative aesthetics and a lack of character or soul. As muddled, bombastic, disposable fun, it gets the job done very nicely, but our end reaction is the same as that of Mark Kermode: "Is that the best you can do?".
I feel as though the DC Comics franchise may have publicly performed its suicide with this film. What began with a few interesting characters, dragged on into a 40 minute exposition of the film's universe and a census of the overpopulated neighborhood. Then the big baddie is revealed -- and it makes no sense. The wheels fell off the wagon from there. Dreadful. Absolutely dreadful.
It's not nearly as bad as Man of Steel, but it's not nearly as good as a number of other movies you could watch. The plot is paper thin, it gets pretty cliche at times, and everyone's favorite part (Harley Quinn) is the most annoying in my opinion. This is 99% because I feel the coy, goofy, over-confident super hero/villain is entirely too played out, and 1% because of the way Margot Robbie says "puddin." If you're all in on the DC universe, and I don't know why you would be, you'd enjoy this film. If you're not, or if you're like me and are all out of the superhero genre all together, then don't waste your time & money (For the record, I only wasted my time).
So with a disappointing start to their cinematic universe, DC and co looked onward to this major project to turn their fortunes around. The first Superman venture divided audiences around the world with its dark and gloomy atmosphere, so what could be done? Well DC and co announced a 'Dirty Dozen with supervillains' movie concept with David Ayer at the helm, a director known for dark, gritty, gloomy movies, ah. So that's what we thought we would be getting, following on from 'Man of Steel' with its dark world. But then 'Batman v Superman' happened and things changed, things got lighter, brighter, sillier, more generic. The dark brooding world of Zack Snyder had taken a bit of a beating from fans, thusly the powers that be decided to change their outlook. It was time for DC to submit and embrace the Marvel universe, it was time for a Marvelisation of their product.
Enter Task Force X, a band of dangerous misfit villains that must work together to complete their undercover black ops mission in order to reduce their prison sentences. At the helm of this...suicide squad? is the hard-nosed, unscrupulous (dare I say...bitch?), Amanda Waller (Viola Davis). Task Force X is her baby and she's not gonna let it fail, the world needs a team to stand up against the possible threat of an evil Superman type villain, and this is it. How will Waller keep control you ask? Well much like Bob Hauk in 'Escape from New York', Waller has implanted tiny explosive devices in each team members neck. Should any of them think of running off or insubordination, the device will be triggered and their heads will pop. Because originality was late for work the day they came up with that.
So lets meet this team of naughty spawns, role call! OK up first is the team leader Rick Flag played by Joel Kinnaman. This guy is an army special forces Colonel and brought in by Waller to keep control. He's the only team member that isn't a criminal. He's also played in a very bland, boring, generic way by Kinnaman who apparently seems to think of himself as the bee's knees with his annoying southern drawl. It doesn't matter how southern you play him Kinnaman, its not cool.
Next up is the token stereotypically sexualised female character, that just happens to be Harley Quinn in this movie, played by Margot Robbie. So Harley is a girl, a sexy girl with blonde hair and she wears very tight booty shorts over fishnet stockings. Now there's nothing wrong with this of course but...well I'm not a teenage so I'm not gonna fawn over how great Robbie is purely because of this. Anyway Quinn has a comically large mallet, and a baseball bat and...errr...she can do acrobatics and stuff...OK there is literally no real reason for Quinn to be in this movie, there I said it. She's only here because she's basically a very popular character and that's it. When you are going up against a supernatural force, or a super powered alien force, what fucking use is a flirty blonde dressed like a stripper wielding a comically large mallet??
Quinn's love interest the Joker (Jared Leto) is of course in this movie, mainly because you need him as they included Quinn, can't have one without the other. So much you could say about this incarnation, did I like the look? No not really, its too gangster, too bling, too punk. This Joker looks like a goth teenage who's runaway from home after being scolded by his parents. I didn't really like his blinged up world, such as the gold dripping from his person in some scenes, his pimped up purple super car, ugh! just too much. I quite liked the fact that he's a basically a lowlife mobster, I liked his henchmen in their quirky masks, I liked some of his outfits such as the tuxedo, I liked some of his dialog and deliveries. On the other hand, I didn't like the tattoo's, I didn't like some of his other over the top Jim Carrey-esque deliveries, I didn't like his laugh, and I didn't like how his SWAT body armour had 'JOKER' printed on it towards the end. Overall Leto's version of the Joker was very mixed for me (what little there was of it), not terrible but not exactly what I would have gone with.
Next, Deadshot played by Will Smith...oh Jesus! So its Will Smith which basically means its not Deadshot and don't be expecting to see that classic mask either cos it ain't happening. There was never any chance of the smug Smith covering up his face for the whole film so what we get is essentially Will Smith being Will Smith as he's done in various other action flicks over the years. Honesty, Smith's performance is no different, he may as well be anyone, its just the same spiel with this guy.
Step forward Captain Boomerang played by Jai Courtney. Now this is yet another example of what the flying fuck is this character doing in this film? The guy is basically a crook and that's it! Sure he might be a good crook, a tough crook, an Aussie crook, but he does nothing, he has no powers! He throws some kind of electronic boomerangs that are almost completely ineffectual unless you want some aerial CCTV surveillance. Yes I can fully admit that Courtney is in fact one of the best performances in the film, its great to have an rough Aussie accent in the film and he's indeed funny. But alas his character is utterly useless, he's a bloke with a bad haircut and facial hair.
Straight outta da hood is El Diablo (Jay Hernandez), a Latino ex-gang member who is probably the most powerful member on the team...but doesn't wanna use them. Naturally being an ex-gang member from LA you expect lots of inane urban dialog such as 'hommie' and 'homes' etc...Deadshot uses this urban dialect when he interacts with him, which is just plain stupid sounding. His outfit seems to consist of a white vest (simple urban street wear) and facial tattoo's which are presumably gang related. This guy does little more than mope around refusing to unleash his powers. When he does its impressive, so much so it renders his human form completely pointless and boring frankly as his fire demon-like form is way more interesting. Should of cast Rick 'Zombie Boy' Genest for this character.
Killer Croc up next played by Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje. Easily the coolest and most intriguing looking character, everything about this guy just makes you wanna know more. He eats people, he actually lives in the sewers, he actually moves like a crocodile in and out of the water, he has super strength and he looks damn evil. In fact this guy is so out there and seemingly deadly its kinda makes you wonder how he could ever be tamed for the team. This guy is like a mutated splicing of Hannibal Lector and a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle. The makeup is excellent for Croc, he genuinely looks scary, you're never really sure what he's gonna do, he sounds badass, his backstory is badass, he is badass. Unfortunately much like some other characters, he pretty much does feck all except for grunting here and there and wearing a really stupid outfit.
Slipknot, played by some bloke called Adam Beach. Kinda cool character name, don't know anything about him but it doesn't matter anyway because he's killed off very quickly with the old exploding neck device. We all knew someone would have to be used for that plot point, and it was Slipknot. Hell this guy doesn't even get any backstory setup unlike everyone else. Yet again, crap addition to the team, what does he do? He can scale walls really well, really quickly...oh and he can grapple really well too. K, thanks for that, next!
June Moore, an archaeologist possessed by an evil spirit that transforms Moore into Enchantress, a powerful supernatural sorceress (played by Cara Delevingne). Finally a character that could actually stand up to an alien super force or other supernatural baddies. One problem, she's a bitch and a turncoat and becomes the films villainess, bummer for Waller. Enchantress seeks revenge against mankind for imprisoning her within some relic in a cave that Moore discovered blah blah blah. She also has a brother called Succubus in the same situation, together they want to destroy the human race. Such a weak villain geez, she looks cliched, uninteresting, yet more tattoo's, a poor storyline and just uses lots of flashy CGI projectiles and whatnot. Succubus is just another large CGI demon type entity that stomps around firing out these weird tentacle-like projectiles. Not really sure what these tentacle things do to people, not really sure what Succubus is supposed to be doing or why Enchantress even needs him. Together they are somehow building this machine weapon thing to wipe out mankind which just happens to be another CGI beam into the sky with lots of floating debris everywhere, ugh!
Lastly we have Katana (Karen Fukuhara) and a prime example of too many characters in one movie. This Japanese swordswoman is here for no real reason at all. She is supposed to protect Flag but we don't really see much of that. I'm genuinely unsure why they included this character, guessing more footage of her was cut. This character looks lame with her childish Halloween mask, she isn't really intimidating, she looks too young, and she merely stands around being mouthy to people whenever she is addressed. Her sword has supernatural powers...but we don't see any of that so who cares.
This movie was very very choppy, clearly edited to hell and clearly torn between about four different plots! Task Force X, the Joker's crime syndicate, the Joker and Quinn's relationship in flashbacks and lastly the supernatural Enchantress plot; all of which is packed together awkwardly. There is also so much crapola that either doesn't make sense or is just plain dumb. Waller kills her own staff at one point, why? because they are apparently not cleared for the information they were working on at that point. But, but...why did you use them? Isn't there some kind of protocol for using the right people for the right cases? Couldn't you just transfer them to another case or something when you no longer needed them?? Does this mean Waller is now a wanted criminal??? Like what the hell lady! Lastly, Ayer makes the bad guys out to be good guys, he turns them into goodies essentially by making Waller (supposedly a goodie at first) ruthless. But does this spoil these characters for the future?? They aren't suppose to be good guys, but now they are, hmmm.
On top of that you have nonsense like the Joker supposedly going down in a helicopter crash and somehow surviving. All the special forces bullets never seem to do anything but when Task Force X come along their bullets are lethal. Apparently Harley Quinn can kill the supernatural beings quite easily with a bat when everyone else requires guns. All the special forces guys are killed willy nilly because they are apparently useless, even in body armour, whilst Quinn and co strut around in casual clothes. A simple bomb kills the supernatural superpower? GQ Edwards (Scott Eastwood) allows himself to get blown, but surely it didn't have to go down that way? And at the start when the team are suited up, they are all given their regular clothes and weapons. I get why, because fans wanna see these characters in their original outfits. But plot wise it makes no sense, why would they allow Quinn, Croc, Diablo, Boomerang etc...to dress as they do? Wouldn't they actually be better protected in the same kind of outfits as the special forces guys? And why the flip would they allow Quinn to use her baseball bat or mallet? Again, how are those objects effective exactly? The only one actually kitted out sensibly is Deadshot.
This movie tries to hard. All too obvious with the soundtrack; I swear you've only been watching about 5 minutes and the movies already gone through about half a dozen tracks! I didn't count but Ayer used a lot of tunes in this movie, Jesus! Literally every scene has a different track slapped over it, some are fine, some are completely out of place (much like the movies overall humour). Half of the characters didn't need to be there or are simply useless, painfully obvious for some. Everything simply revolves around Flag, Quinn and Deadshot, mainly Quinn and Deadshot. And that's only because Quinn is massively popular (possibly because of horny teenage males), and Deadshot is played by Will Smith, so he has to be front and centre, without the mask, which is utterly lame. Yes I realise this is the extended cut I'm reviewing but it matters not. I never saw the theatrical cut but if its apparently worse than this then...shit! Put simply, the movie starts out quite well despite the thick thick narration and onscreen text, but quickly disintegrates into a generic slapped together mess of monolithic proportions.
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