Suicide Squad is the third film in DC Comics’ growing cinematic universe.
With the recent arrival of “Meta Humans” being revealed to the public eye, members of the government form a new plan, bringing together the worst of the worst amongst incarcerated, deadly criminals, with hopes that they will fight for the good of mankind, protecting humanity from future threats. The idea is understandably contested and debated, but when a supernatural threat appears and begins wreaking havoc, the plan is put into motion. Will things go as everyone hopes, or will bad guys remain bad guys, and let the world go to Hell?
DC has had it rough getting out the gate with its cinematic universe. Man of Steel was a competently made Superman movie, but still suffered from an overlong run time, needlessly dark tone, and too many mindless action sequences. Batman V. Superman was torn to shreds by a number of fans and critics for its poor editing and half-hearted attempts to set up a DC universe overnight, rather than spreading the build across multiple films. Suicide Squad is the third film in DC’s cinematic universe, and despite a few laughable one-liners and solid performances, it is ultimately another big screen disappointment that never quite lives up to its potential.
The most surprising thing about the movie is Will Smith as Deadshot, who actually gives a solid performance and makes us appreciate the character. Margot Robbie steals the show as Harley Quinn; this is the first theatrical live-action appearance of the character, who first appeared in Batman: The Animated Series back in the 1990s. It is these roles that steal the show; it is just too bad I did not find myself giving a damn about any other character in the movie. Everyone else is just “along for the ride.”
The biggest problem with Suicide Squad is that it is nowhere near as “fun” as its trailer would lead you to believe. There is some witty banter and a few laughs to be had, but the pacing is terrible. Before the movie even gets off the ground, we are forced to sit through vignettes that introduce the “heroes.” With a few exceptions, these scenes do not reveal much that we could not have learned from a few lines of dialogue during the meat of the movie. At one point the film even stops dead in its tracks to give us an unneeded Harley Quinn origin scene that feels like something out of a bad rap video.
Even after being introduced to character after character that more or less gets “thrown under the bus” and neglected for the bulk of the film, the movie introduce even MORE one-dimensional characters to keep track of. It seems like the movie toggles between boring, talky sequences with hit and miss jokes, and all-out mindless action scenes. Despite a run time of just about two hours (roughly half an hour shorter than Man of Steel or Batman V. Superman) I still found myself looking at my watch on more than a few occasions. The movie even drags on after its climax, and never quite knows when to end. Put simply, the filmmakers used up the film’s best content in the trailer, and so much else of what we have here feels like “padding.”
If you going to this movie to see Jared Leto’s Joker, you are bound to be in for a disappointment. Not because of Leto’s performance (which is actually surprisingly effective and more subtle than his predecessors), but because he is hardly in the movie at all, and disappears for very long stretches. Granted, he is not part of the film’s central plot, but someone going to see the movie to experience the Clown Prince of Crime will be disappointed by just how little he is in the film. Apparently many of his scenes were cut from the final movie; at least one infamous moment of dialogue from the trailer regarding him “showing someone his toys” is not even in the finished product.
Much like the previous two DC Universe movies, this one feels poorly edited and put together; it is a shame given how many great classic characters they have to their name. In one scene a character performs a surprisingly uncharacteristic and violent action… and it is more or less just “written off” and forgotten by the next scene for the most part. In another a character attempts to betray and desert the team, but is promptly killed and forgotten. As such much of the movie has these moments that make the finished product fill “episodic.”
The cast is talented and does what they can with their characters, with what little they are given. Unfortunately, outside of Deadshot and Harley Quinn, everyone else just feels like dead weight. I actually laughed quite a bit at Captain Boomerang’s quips; this guy deserves his own Deadpool-style R-rated comedy. It is just a shame he gets so little to do here.
Other members of the team and the associated characters do not fare as well. Killer Croc is a powerful monstrosity, yet never once did I give a damn about him or find myself rooting for him. El Diablo is a ridiculous Latino gangster stereotype with a backstory that is a cliché. Katana has a few hints at a potentially interesting backstory and pulls off some flashy sword moves, but again, I simply did not care about the character at all because the movie never gave me any depth or reason to care.
DC’s approach to making movies and establishing a bigger world is ass backwards, and Suicide Squad does not help things any. Marvel succeeded in building their universe because they planted the seeds slowly, introducing us to individual characters one movie at a time, building their stories, and only dropping slight and subtle hints before even thinking about bigger crossovers. DC took the opposite approach, throwing every single character and “world building” element at the viewer in single movies. After three strikes, it is time for DC to go back to the drawing board if they want any chance of making their cinematic universe work. We needed to see some of these characters in solo movies first, and actually find it believable that they could work as a coherent whole. What moral struggle and personal conflict there is here feels contrived and obligatory at best.
Suicide Squad has ambition, ridiculous over-the-top production, and two characters I actually enjoyed. But it suffers from poor pacing, direction, editing, and DC once again throwing too much and too many new characters at the viewer in a single movie. Fans of these characters/actors may find something to enjoy about the movie, but at large it never quite gets off the ground, and I cannot recommend it.
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