It's a little hard to believe it but this weekend marked the fifth comic book flick I've seen in theaters this year. Suicide Squad, the third attempt from DC Comics and Warner Bros at turning out an actual decent film in their own interconnected cinematic universe. You've probably heard already that it made oodles at the box office over the weekend. Then again, so did Batman V Superman during it's opening weekend all through what would be for most movies a respectable run. Sadly that movie cost so much it's still considered somewhat of a financial failure. One element the two films do share at the box office is steep-decline in ticket sales from Friday to Saturday. Who knows how it'll far over the following weeks but for now we can discuss the quality of the film. This is going to be a very spoilerific review so if you feel the need to see this film with as much surprise as can be then don't read this. Do know however that I very much urge you to save your time and money by doing pretty much anything other than seeing this thing.
Similar to the previous DC effort, this thing is very messy so I'll be taking it on in chunks ,
What is supposed to pass for plot occurs almost entirely within the the first 40 or so minutes of the film. Amanda Waller wants to form a team of the worst super-criminals she can find in order to combat threats from metahumans, aliens, demons, you name it. One of her prime candidates for this team is June Moone, an archaeologist possessed by an ancient witch known as Enchantress. Amanda keeps this particular fiend on a leash by stashing the witch's heart in an explosive lined suitcase on her side at all times.
On the night the team is given clearance to be formed, Enchantress tries to take back her heart only to find it inaccessible. Instead she teleports into Waller's closet to find the statue containing the spirit of her evil brother Incubus. Yeah...Waller knows these statues can house evil spirits so she just keeps one unprotected in her house. Offended by the notion that humans worships machines, the sibling pair of Enchantress and Incubus take over Midway City and construct a beam of light that will eventually kill everyone. The Squad is sent in without proper briefing as to these events and is told to rescue someone important within the city....that's about it. Oh, and the Joker wants his girlfriend back. The rest is mostly bickering, backstabbing, and slow-motion battles against magical pimple people.
Will Smith as Deadshot
Arguably the main character of this tale, I mean he must be since we get like three different introductions for him. Deadshot is a hitman who never misses a shot. Seems simple enough but he's got a soft spot for his teenage daughter who wants him to stop killing people for money. When spending time with her around Christmas, Deadshot is taken into custody by Batman who corners the pair in an alleyway and announces he'd prefer not to do this in front of the girl, only to then beat Will Smith in front of the kid.
Think about that for a bit. Batman, a supposed hero, forged by the moment in his life when faceless goons killed his parents in an alley shows up and starts a fist fight in front of a child. He couldn't wait the 20 minutes for the girl to be walked home? Adding to this little pile of misery is the girl stepping in between the two of them while her dad points a gun at the capped asshat. This scene is bad enough as is but then it gets brought up again. During the final fight, Deadshot is about use Harley Quinn's gun to shoot a pack of dynamite in order to destroy the magical death machine. Enchantress presents visions of his daughter once again in front of him, begging him not to fire. He mans up enough to take the shot and when he does, I kid you not, the revolver chamber on Harley's gun which has words written all over it (everything does) rotates to the word “love” with this world saving bullet. I nearly threw my hands up in defeat and walked out except I'd already endured and hour and fifty minutes of this nonsense.
Deadshot is in sort of an odd balance. While I see plenty of the comic character here, there's also a lot of Will Smith in his classic summer movie leading man routine. It's a mode I've not seen him in for a long time and while it's sort of an old hat his performance is still one of the better things the movie has going for it. He's mostly charming and enduring if a bit too soft for someone who's supposed to be a hardened killer.
Margot Robbie as Harley Quinn on the other hand is not so solid. Essentially the second hero of our tale, Harley is occasionally enduring but more often than not just plain annoying. Even the way Margot plays the part is wishy washy. Sometimes she's got the classic gangster movie girlfriend voice going, other times not at all. Sometimes her comedic timing is spot on, then it's nowhere to be found.
Likewise the writing for Harley Quinn is all over the map. The movie wants to do everything with her at the same time. She's a victim of an incredibly abusive relationship yet it's still played up as some rebellious love affair for the ages. Continuing on that trend, she's Joker's willing pet but some symbol for female empowerment. She's ditsy and goofy yet has better aim and combat abilities than an entire team of Navy Seals. The fuck?
There's not really any development for her at all through the story. It's supposed to be a big deal that she makes friends with the team but that really doesn't seem like much of a stretch for someone who is in essence a violent child. It wouldn't surprise me at all if her more importance scenes were left on the cutting room floor where reportedly much of the Joker sequences were left to rot.
Speaking of which, Jared Leto as the Joker is......well shit. I don't really know what he is. Neither did the filmmakers for that matter. For one there's no real reason for him to be in this movie other than executives understanding that people like the Joker.
Leto's performance is odd to say the least. Imagine Jim Carrey's Riddler matched up with Al Pacino's Scarface, then remove any attempt at class. He moans, growls, fondles, the whole shabang. There's a chance that his version might have worked if not for one huge fatal flaw, he doesn't do anything all that evil. His henchmen take more lives than he does. At worst he tortures Harley with electroshock but at the time she's giggling like a madwoman in anticipation so it loses it's impact.
When trying to rescue his ladylove, Joker opens fire on the squad and no one is hurt. He kidnapped a scientist to disarm the bomb implanted in her neck yet he doesn't take the opportunity to free the other villains and cause further chaos. Hell. Even his texts are dull. It's just shit like “I”m almost there.” If I'm getting a text from Joker it better be a beautiful marriage of Popsicle jokes and dirty limericks.
The whole non-threatening villain angle is a huge issue throughout the movie. They keep telling us how nasty these people are but there's no evidence to support it. This issue deepens with the Joker since he's supposed to be even more evil than everyone else. Instead he just seems like another goof ina costume.
Viola Davis fares somewhat better as Amada Waller but the writing does her zero favors. I've already mentioned the evil spirit containing statue in the closet but here's another one for ya. She's the V.I.P. The team is sent to rescue. Why they weren't allowed to know this is beyond me as it's a needless twist and she'd already secured their cooperation via neckbombs.
She's in her own mini command center with a small supply of Argus agents working for her. When the team arrives to bail her out she immediately kills the aforementioned agents because this was all above their clearance level. If it's above their level then why on Earth are they in your personal bunker to begin with? Plus you just killed a batch of highly trained workers within your own agency. This makes the untested experimental team of super-criminal killers your personal escort.
Soon enough she's involved in the third major helicopter crash of the film. Don't worry, she's fine. people shake off helicopter accidents in this thing like they tripped on the curb. She does get taken hostage for the remainder of the film which keeps the writers from making an even bigger mockery of her. Her cronies on the other hand aren't so lucky.
Joel Kinnaman as Rick Flagg is just the worst. I mean the character is awful. He looks and acts like a methhead with penis envy. In every scene, even ones based in a decent air conditioned hotel room he's sweating like he's got withdrawals and perhaps that would explain his behavior.
When he first meets the squad it seems like he's going to treat than with more respect than others have in the past. He doesn't back down from Killer Croc, and is impressed by Deadshot's abilities. Ten minutes later he's criticizing Deadshot as a coward who'll turn tail at the start of trouble. Five minutes after that he says he'll kill Deadshot if he turns tails. Then he gains respect for him again, then he hates everyone again even after they save his dumb ass multiple times over.
Kinnaman's acting isn't much better than the character either. Wonky line delivery, and almost zero charisma. He's just bad here. Not to mention I don't for an instant buy his romance with June Moone.
While we're on that topic, perhaps Cara Delevingne should feel blessed to get this role out so early in her career. This role ranks as one of the most pointless, and regrettable villains in comic book movie history. The girl maybe has five or six lines in her human form that she stumbles through. She spends the majority of the film dancing, poorly mind you, in front of the CG doom machine she's crafted. All lines within that portion are delivered by another actress. So for at least half of this two hour movie this girl and her eyebrows bob, weave, and lip sync in front of a green screen with little motivation.
There is an actual fight scene against the Enchantress, luckily the lights get turned way down low to make it easy to hide who's actually doing the fighting. What's great is that this fight ends after like four minutes when Enchantress uses her magic to disarm the entire squad. If you could do that in the first place then why the fuck did you get in a fist fight with these people?
Alain Chanoin plays the other baddie, Incubus. In truth it's just a big pile of orange, glowy CG shit that does little more than fire tentacles at people. The battle with him includes possibly the most embarrassing moment of the night, but first we have to talk about something that's actually kind of good.
Jay Hernandez as El Diablo is one of the very few good things about the movie. A fire-conjuring gang banger covered in countless tattoos who's taken a vow of peace after some terrible event changed his life. The scene where he reveals his secrets to the squad is the easily the best part of the movie. Most of his performance is likewise above most of the others as he's asked to play things more calm and cool.
Sadly, this all flies out the window during the final showdown. After using his personal guilt to break through some of Enchantress's illusions, El Diablo starts going on about how these are his people, and he already lost one family, he won't lose another. Then he turns into a big Aztec fire skeleton thing and fights the other blob of orange CG, and I weep for the future.
Poor guy sacrifices himself but you don't really buy it since their getting taken out by a bomb. Do bombs even work on guys that turn into fire skeletons? They must cause you never see him again. Oh and for future reference, explosions beat magic too.
You may not believe it but there's even more people to talk about. Jai Courtney is in this as Captain Boomerang. The more appropriate title for him would be drink Aussie who occasionally uses boomerangs. Think of him as the Hawkeye of this picture since like that archer's early appearance there's not a lot for him to do. They try to make him the comic relief even though there's plenty of jokes from the others. His fighting isn't anything all to special either. He uses his boomerangs but he doesn't do anything really special with em. It's like having a guy who knows secret kung-fu that you find out is just regular kung-fu.
Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje's Killer Croc was just a bad idea. He looks like something out of the Super Mario Bros movie, his lines aren't funny, and that's when you can actually understand the lines. Between his attempts at a deep southern accent, pounds of make-up, and some ADR pitch changes after the fact only half his lines can be understood. It's not the biggest problem around though since he mostly stands in the background and growls.
Karen Fukuhara as Katana is something I'm amazed the movie hasn't gotten in trouble for. Even in the comics this character is pushing the Japanese stereotype shit a bit far. About the only thing missing here is a gong every time she makes an appearance. Once again this isn't helped by an almost complete lack of development. Her only scene of moderate depth comes right before the last fight when she's blubbering and talking to her dead husband. It's totally out of left field after she's spent the entirety of the film doing generic sword poses and muttering about justice and bloodshed.
Adam Beach is around for like six mintues as Slipknot before he tries to escape and his head bloodlessly explodes. It comes as no surprise since he's the one squad member without an introductory flashback.
There's a batch of Navy Seals supporting the group throughout the film, the most prominent being GQ as played by Scott Eastwood. I understand Hollywood wants to bank on this guy's name and that woman think he's pretty but he's about as interesting as a tax form..
There's so much else I could go on about. The bloodlessly violence, the lazy pacing, the astoundingly generic soundtrack composed of every song you were tired of by age ten. Spirit in the Sky, check. Sympathy for the Devil, check. Fortunate Son, check. Bohemian Rhapsody, you better believe it. It's just bad, and not even amazingly bad, just lame, pathetic, and bland.
I'm not even sure why this is the third film in DC's slate. Nothing happens, there's no grand development. For as craptastic as Batman v Superman was, it at least had progression and expanded their universe.
For a direct comparison to other films, leaving the theater after this I felt about the same as I did way back in 1997 after watching Spawn. Both are poor attempts at cinema that try so desperately to be edgy and hardcore without anything to back it up.
So that's the third DC shared universe film down. So far their batting average is shit. Wonder Woman at least looks like it's trying to be a real movie so maybe that can help earn them a little credit. As it stands they haven't even made a film that can match up to their CW shows. You guys got a long way to go.