Quick Hit: A movie that falls short of a lot of what it could have been, while still maintaining a semblance of entertainment.
Buckle in folks – it’s gonna be a long one today.
One of my fondest memories of childhood is Saturday morning cartoons. Was there any greater feeling then waking up to the Animaniacs, Pinky and the Brain, Superman, and Batman? I remember devouring all the cartoons, particularly the last two as the represented what I wanted to be in life: a hero to those I loved.
I may have a greater affinity for Superman, but Batman doesn’t fall far in my books. He for sure has a much more interesting Rogue’s Gallery, and it’s here that I’ll begin my tale. Most of the “heroes” in Suicide Squad are Batman villains. They do justice to a few of them in the movie, but not nearly enough to the team as a whole.
I’m off topic. My thoughts about this movie are as all over the place as the plot of this poor thing.
It could have been so good! The trailers (I’ll come back to these I promise) were wonderful – colorful and different, musical and fun. However, the movie begins with a super long bit of exposition delivered to introduce us to most of the characters that we’ll see. I understand the need for this: not a single character in this film has been presented in a recent DC film (I’m struggling to think if any of them have been presented in any DC films – about the closest I can think of is the recent string of excellent DC centric TV – Arrow has presented several of the characters before). But… to do so in this format was hard because there was so much talking, it ran the risk of being boring (and for some people that aren’t comics lovers, probably will be). Couldn’t we have presented the Squad’s members’ talents/backgrounds in a way that was fuller and richer? Or if you want to go the quicker route for time purposes, why not do a montage of them performing said skills in the yard at the prison, or when they are first gathering the team? Indeed, with the small amount that was said about each character, why not just let them show us themselves what they are capable of?
So begins the first hour of the movie. The second hour picks up a bit, because we actually get an antagonist, and sheesh is it thrown together. It’s almost like they forgot to get a bad guy for the film, and at the last second, threw this in. I won’t ruin it for those… never mind. I’m gonna talk about it. Here’s a big, ole fat spoiler alert.
One of the potential members of the squad is the Enchantress. She’s magical and therefore powerful (following me so far). She ends up wanting to destroy the world, (still good) and does so by trying to build a magical machine (losing me) where she destroys different military targets (uh oh, slipping here) that she retrieves from the brain of Amanda Waller, while her magical brother (huh?) keeps hurting people, while somehow looking exactly like a mix between the Destroyer from Thor and Heimdall from Thor (ok… I got nothing).
If that sounds confusing to you, it’s because it is. The Squad is put together to rescue Waller, and eventually stop Enchantress and her brother, because Flagg, their military leader (sort of) loves the person the Enchantress is possessing.
An astute person that followed the trailers may well be asking at this moment where the Joker is. He featured prominently in the trailers and even the marketing campaign. But… his inclusion in this movie is almost pointless. I understand the desire to introduce him, I really do. He’s the most famous villain in the entire DC universe. Two (now three) very talented actors have portrayed him, and have done so in very, very different ways. I’ll talk about Leto and the Joker in general in the next paragraph, but here, I just wanted to say that the trailers (told ya I would hit them) pretty much reveal every single scene that the Joker is in. I literally don’t think there was a single moment that I hadn’t already seen. I pray that they give him a movie of his own (starring the Bat too of course) where we can dive into him more than just making him seem like another thug.
Ok… Leto’s Joker. There’s been a lot said on the internet since the first unveiling of the picture of him, and it seems like they took the criticism to heart. The tattoos didn’t seem nearly as vibrant as in the first photo, and that’s probably a good thing because they are rather distracting (and I like tattoos!). However, his performance was just… eh. I really enjoyed his voice – it seemed like a blending of Leto’s natural talents and Mark Hamill’s from the animated series. His laugh is pretty creepy, but I didn’t really get the vibe that this Joker is insane. Like I said in the previous paragraph, he just seems like another powerful thug. Another thing I didn’t love was his pursuit of Harley. He seems SOOOOOO in love with her, but that isn’t their relationship. He likes having her around, and has affection for her, but he can’t show it the typical way. It’s a relationship that is extremely one-sided, and that wasn’t presented here. What they should have done is had him be present in Harley’s backstory, then still rescued her at the end. Take out all the middle scenes.
One thing I want to stress is that I’m glad that the director/writers/Leto seem to want to distance themselves from Ledger’s Joker. That take was so definitive that anything similar would have seemed like a copycat of what had already been done. It’s hard to follow up an Academy Award winning performance on the same character, so at least they forged onward into a new direction.
I’ll move on to the Squad themselves (sorry for this deluge of information about my thoughts – I just care a lot about these fictional characters). I thought the Will Smith did a terrific job with what he was given, which wasn’t much. Floyd Lawton is one of the best antiheroes out there, like Deadpool if he had a daughter to care for. I thought that Margot Robbie was spot on for Harley. She nailed the Brooklyn accent … most of the time anyways. She speaks a lot in clichés and things, but that’s Harley as a character. One of my main problems with the movie’s depiction of her was that she was overly sexualized. Most women comic characters are at some point in their careers, but let’s not forget – Harley is a creation of Batman: The Animated Series that I used to watch on Saturday mornings. There, she was just Mistah J’s gal – not a slutted up bimbo (that’s Ivy’s role to fill).
Most of the other characters end up being forgettable, which is a shame because so many of them are so interesting. Diablo is the only one we really get a chance to form an attachment too. Captain Boomerang is only there for comic relief, but that was mainly his job in the comics as well, so he gets a pass. I was horrified with the way they portrayed Killer Croc though, because he has a much deeper motivation than just being part crocodile. I don’t understand why they chose to make it so that he barely spoke, besides they wanted to continue to give Harley and Deadshot lines. Maybe future installments in the Batman series or Suicide Squad would give a chance to further explore some of these other characters (I mean come on! Katana is awesome! Give her some more time! A sword that contains souls!!).
Up to this point in this extremely long review (if anyone is still reading, kudos to you), I’ve been almost uniformly negative, and that’s unfortunate, because it’s not all bad. I thoroughly enjoyed a lot of the action scenes in the movie. As I said before, I loved the take on Harley, and thought that Smith was a great Deadshot. I haven’t even mentioned the wonderful performance by Viola Davis, who was crafted with being an extremely nuanced character in Amanda Waller. Indeed, almost the whole cast seemed very committed to their performances, and that is admirable and should be commended.
The soundtrack was good, but what I was confused about was the fact that it didn’t seem to match the movie at times. It’s a point my fellow blogger, Steve Donahue, brought up in his post about the movie. The trailers did it perfectly, but here, the faltered, despite the fact that very good songs were used.
The biggest positive I have (besides the acting) was the colors. They took BVS and turned it on its head here, turning up all the colors to max. I didn’t watch the movie in 3D, but I imagine that those that did were assaulted to the max with an Alice in Wonderland-like spectacle of color and action, which was enjoyable if overwhelming at times. This starts in the credits and ends in the credits, with very little slow down in between. I like this bold approach.
Overall, this movie is messy, fun, anger-inspiring, enjoyable, terrible, and lots of other things. I could post about it for days. But I think two and a half pages is enough. I’m going to give Suicide Squad a C.
For more on this film, check out IMDB.
"All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy"