For those of you who are not familiar with The Guys From Podcast, or even, when we specifically talked about the trailer for Suicide Squad, let me fill you in on a few things before I get started on talking about this film:
- I am a fan of DC comics--my favorite superhero is Aquaman (in all his polar bear chucking glory), and while I have largely been lukewarm on DC's movie efforts, I still read them, I dig the animated specials etc...but...yeah...
- I don't trust DC, so I am...at least until James Wan's Aquaman next year, not bringing myself to giving these movies any of my money until they've proven to be worth it--lord knows going to a cinema is stupidly expensive enough, and most crowds suck, so...why risk it?
- I was hopeful, specifically based off of the trailer, and the lack of Zack Snyder (...I don't care for his ability to tell a story...) that this was going to be interesting, and reserved the right to make my own judgement rather than trusting reviews--I typically don't trust a lot of reviewers to be "like me" anymore, plus I seemed to "enjoy" Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice more than most, in all it's silly, "get through the first hour" glory.
Suicide Squad premiered last weekend (my birthday weekend) on The Movie Network, so I finally sat down to watch it...and....
Essentially, if you are unfamiliar with Suicide Squad, it's about a secret government program led by a ruthless government agent(?) Amanda Waller (Viola Davis) who uses captured "supervillains" on...well a suicide mission to stop Enchantress (a powerful sorceress) from destroying the world (or conquering it, in darkness...) with her magic. The "team" are coerced into acting for the government by getting explosives injected into their necks (by Waller), and are being led by Col. Rick Flagg (Joel Kinnaman) and a seemingly random number of...SEALS?
The villains that are sent in on said mission are Deadshot (Will Smith--he can shoot real good and has a daughter), Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie--Joker's former psychologist, turned accomplice and lover), Captain Boomerang (Jai Courtney-- a thief who likes....boomerangs), El Diablo (Jay Hernandez-- former LA Gang member with a fire demon inside him), Killer Croc (Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje-- he's...regressed(?) into becoming crocodile like), and Slipknot (Adam Beach-- A mercenary who...climbs?).
You are wholly forgiven if you (not a comics reader) have no idea who most of those people are...don't worry though, the first half an hour or so of the movie will loosely introduce you to all of them, PLUS Katana (Karen Fukuhara-- an expert martial artist with a fancy, soul-taking sword) and the Joker (Jared Leto-- yeah, that Joker) to give you a swirling mess of exposition to get you primed to follow a bunch of characters that, movie wise, you don't know through a fight to save the world.
I had said in the Podcast that I was intrigued by the trailer, because it used music well, and it seemed like it was going to have a good time, in a pop-art aesthetic, which would be very different than the rest of the superhero films we have had so far.
That looks fun!
Well....I always like doing the positive stuff first, so:
I think that the casting was solid across the board; Will Smith's Deadshot, Margot Robbie's Harley Quinn, Jay Hernandez's El Diablo, and even Jared Leto's Joker were interesting, and I bought all of them in their roles. Viola Davis' Amanda Waller was good; I've always found that character to be hard and a bit grating in the comics, and I really bought what Davis was doing. Leto's Joker was different and interesting--he made me uncomfortable in a completely different way than any other Joker had previously...so that was...cool.
The makeup was really good....I see why they won the Oscar....
Um...that is all I've got...
I enjoyed the casting, but they were overshadowed by an absolute mess of a movie. The story, once it finally gets going, is unable to establish any stakes in anything. A character dies (I won't spoil that...in case you feel like putting yourself through this movie as well) a few minutes after they were introduced, and...it...proved a point?
To the characters....who are...helping answer an audiences potential question...before it felt relevant. At all.
Suicide Squad is storytelling at its' very worst--the act structure is used, but poorly (and I don't find that necessary to make a good film, but you have to be able to tell a story competently before you should be jumping past a traditional structure), the characters are all over-the-top, but in a grounded world, which means that when they're put into a realistic situation, they seem out of place IN THEIR OWN MOVIE...I just....I don't understand how Suicide Squad happened. David Ayer (the writer/director) wrote Training Day, u-571 (a guilty pleasure M-square movie of mine), and Fury...which he also directed--a movie that I did not love as much as some other people did, but I appreciated as being well constructed...
Suicide Squad seems rushed, mis-managed, and a case of "a camel is a horse designed by committee"--there are so many ideas in here, some of them could have been actually good, but they end up just bumbling into each other like Keystone Cops. Enchantress, a pretty damn good villain IMO in the comics, was...there....I guess....her minions were...also there...and...neat looking when you could actually see them (DC movies love being weirdly dark), and then The Joker was there, and then not, and then there...I get why he was there from a marketing standpoint, but the new Leto Joker/Affleck Batman aren't really fleshed out yet, so this being his debut was...wasted? I can't say pointless, as that implies that there won't be one later...but...in this movie he felt like he was there for context/padding the runtime.
I just don't know, good readers...they rushed so much with so many characters (many of whom I know from the comics), that they all just became shallow, static...almost caricatures of themselves.
I was thinking about leaving it there, but I have to mention the music...and my language is going to turn a bit less formal here, because as a former DJ, and someone who cares deeply about music, and its uses in media, Suicide Squad literally (and I know what that word actually means) made be furious:
Fuck whoever designed/picked/edited in the music in this: it was obtuse, it was mishandled, and it felt like a drunk guy with an iPod was deciding on the cues. I'm sure if you just buy the soundtrack, it's a pretty good mix of fun, pop culture-y songs, but they are butchered throughout this movie. It felt dirty, it felt like the people designing the music thought that their audience are fucking idiots, and every choice was made for marketing purposes, instead of actual artistic choices. That's a disservice to the audience, to the artists (and their songs), and frankly to these characters, and FFS even these actors.
These performers, and performances, and even character designs, deserved to be in a better movie than Suicide Squad.
I call these articles "Better Late Than Never", but in this case, that's a misnomer: Suicide Squad is the worst modern Superhero movie. There is nothing that has failed as much, or in as many ways as this film does, and I frankly am a little surprised that no one at the studio saw this exposition-heavy, dark, fluffy-to-the-point-of-insulting movie and did not think "hey, let's take the time to make this better"...maybe they couldn't....
Or, I guess, considering it was a Top 10 Box Office film for 2016, we as an audience did not do a good job at forcing them to care....
God, I hope they don't screw up Wonder Woman too....I really, really do...
I know these features are usually positive (and we try to stay positive around here), but I just...I needed to say all this, on the off chance you haven't seen it yet, I could maybe save you your time.
That's it, leave a comment if you like, agree or disagree--in the end, these are all my opinions, so if you loved it...hey, I'm glad.
I wanted to have a good time too.
I just didn't.