Warner Brothers is massively jealous of everything Marvel has going on right now and isn’t making any moves to prove otherwise. Marvel has been able to consistently knock it out of the ballpark every time, even with smaller characters that are more or less unknown to the broader audience like Ant-Man. Warner can’t even make things work with DC Comics most notable hero, Superman, and dropped the ball to a large degree with the mess that was Batman v Superman: Dawn Of Justice, which led to a panicked retooling of the next piece in their cinematic universe, Suicide Squad. Does this mean that they may have learned something between March and now? You would really think they had but, no, they fall into the same traps as the previously mentioned horrible mess, though not to the same degree. The most obvious thing they did in the next installment towards the Justice League was completely neuter their director David Ayer and hobble his vision.
Heading into my screening of Suicide Squad, and with full knowledge of what the critics were saying and that Rotten Tomatoes score that had DC fans screaming for the destruction of that website, I was trying to clear my mind of all the bad press and low expectations to enjoy the movie as a blank slate. I was so angry after Batman v Superman and I was dreading having the same feelings, given that I love John Ostrander’s vision of this bad ass super villain team up. I was already not on board with a few things, including the reimagining of Deadshot, but I was surprisingly open to seeing what Academy Award winner Jared Leto was going to do with the Joker role. I wasn’t taken aback by the new tattooed look of him but the rest of the portrayal had me very intrigued.
The film starts out by giving us a rundown of our characters, all residing in Bell Reve Penitentiary, by intelligence operative Amanda Waller (Viola Davis). She is pitching the idea of using a group of supervillains, Deadshot (Will Smith), Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie), Captain Boomerang (Jai Courtney), Killer Croc (Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje), Diablo (Jay Hernandez) and Slipknot (Adam Beach), to do the dirty work when situations get out of control, like attacks from metahumans. All of this comes in the wake of Superman’s death at the end of Batman v Superman: Dawn Of Justice and seems to be a contingency plan for if there was another superpower to of his magnitude that decided to destroy the planet.
In the background of this is special ops soldier Rick Flagg (Joel Kinnaman) and his romantic involvement with Doctor June Moone (Cara Delevigne), who has been possessed by an entity known as Enchantress. Being used by Waller and the government as a supernatural thief that can retrieve weapons caches and information from their enemies, Enchantress’s heart is being held hostage as the piece to control her but it doesn’t stop her from going rogue and unleashing her brother upon the world, bent on destroying it. Waller then sends out the new villain comprised group known as Task Force X, the expendable patsies to bring this enemy down by any means necessary or die in the process. All the while this is happening, Harley’s boyfriend, The Joker, is making grandiose moves to bring the abused love of his life back into his clutches.
There’s no easy way to let this one down. The critics were right; this movie is a total mess. The cast is excellent but all of the execution of the film is toothless, distracted and completely amateur. It’s obvious from the get-go who the most important characters to the producers are, being the star Will Smith and the character of Harley Quinn, as they get large back stories that serve as almost the backbone of the whole film. This doesn’t stop the back story exposition on each squad character to be explored in flashbacks one after the other multiple times throughout the film, each piece watered down and clichéd. All of the dialogue is your basic gritty bravado with ‘bitch’ uttered as many times as possible and no one gets a real opportunity to shine, leading you to think there might be more until the writing blows it’s tires completely in the third act.
Jared Leto’s Joker may be something I am the most upset about. The method taken with this character seemed to have zero humor and nothing that makes this character so iconic. Instead, he seems to be like a sleazy nightclub owner who makes shady back door cocaine deals and roofies women’s drinks. Leto’s grunts and growls become probably the most annoying post production piece of the film, as they largely feel like they came out of the ADR booth, maybe coming second to the really bad spots of CGI in the film. Suicide Squad, with all of its problems, shows the lack of cohesiveness between its filmmaker and its studio and further brings the feeling that we will never see a truly good film in this universe. We, as comic fans, are being robbed of the most iconic characters of all time.
To give a little bit of sugar to this review, I will say that Margot Robbie does deliver in this film and is possibly the highlight. I was also a bit surprised to find myself enjoying Jai Courtney, who I mocked mercilessly last year for his work on Terminator Genisys. All of this is for naught though as the film has far too many problems than things that work for it, as it really shows how toothless that writer and director David Ayer is within a PG13 limitation. His villains are inconsequential; Cara Delevigne is noticeably awful and the attention to any story element feels entirely fleeting. Warner Brothers just doesn’t get it and will never get it. They are trying to walk before they can run and continue to throw unnecessary barbs at Marvel Studios like an insecure bully, definitely on display what David Ayer got caught up in the moment and yell “F*ck Marvel!” at the premiere. Really, dude? Suicide Squad is a two out of five.