*Originally written August 5th, 2016*
"Worst. Heroes. Ever"
Suicide Squad will be a strange beast in terms of cinema for 2016. The first trailer hit and no one was excited, it looked like a boring and lifeless slog. Then we got a second trailer, where the tone had a complete face-lift, we were shown a candy-coloured and fun film that looked to drop that dreary takes itself too seriously problem people seem to have with DC films. Then we arrive to 2 days ago and the reviews dropped and they were poor to say the least. Everyone turned on the film without seeing it and reports came out from the behind the scenes problems. So was this the complete disaster people are saying it is? Well yes and no?
There are two words that describe Suicide Squad in equal measure: Messy and entertaining. The film is a complete mess through and through. A lot of stuff doesn't make sense and a lot of it feels like it was left on the cutting room floor. I feel this is going to be another Batman V Superman situation where we get a much improved cut on the Blu-ray release. Saying this, the film is a hell of a lot of fun, it's one the most entertaining films I've seen all year, alongside Hardcore Henry and Deadpool.
Does a film being purely entertaining mean it's good? No, but I went to have a good time and that's exactly what I got. The problems with it are huge though. If a film reminds you of this years 'Gods of Egypt', then that is a big problem. It is so much fun though, the two hours breezed by and it was a refreshing change of pace from the DCEU's two previous films. I'm beginning to think that the problems are very much studio interference. David Ayer is a trusted director, I've not hated anything he's made yet (I'll even defend Sabotage) and there are glimpses of a truly great film here, it's just bogged down with a lot of crude editing and a truly awful finale.
But the main reason everyone is here is for two reasons: Margot Robbie's Harley Quinn and Jared Leto's Joker. They're both fantastic. I fell in love with Harley Quinn based on the trailers and Robbie did an insanely good job and stole the scene whenever she appeared, she was funny, handled action well and she was definitely psychotic. Her performance was anything but subtle, but she did feel like a comic-book character bought to life, which was awesome. The only other point of reference for Harley Quinn for me is the Arkham games and I felt Robbie lived up to that extremely well.
Then we had Jared Leto's Joker. This was the big one. The late Heath Ledger's performance as the Clown Prince of Crime has gone down in history as one of the greatest performances of all-time, which is well earned, he was a true powerhouse. Does Jared Leto match or even top Ledger? Well, no. But he was great. It was hard to tell, as he wasn't in it much, barely scraping in 15 minutes of screen time. He does make the most of every scene he is in though. He was terrifying, his cackle worked and it stayed with me. I was so glad they didn't try and copy Ledger's performance and they did their own thing with it. I loved the look of the character, people complained about the tattoos, but whatever I thought he looked awesome. I was reminded a little of James Franco's role in Spring Breakers at times though. The biggest problem with The Joker was by no means his performance, but what they do with the character. The Joker has no impact on the story of Suicide Squad. He's poorly implemented as a side story to the what the Squad are doing, but his actions have no overall effect on any of the plot. I cannot wait to see what they do with his character in future films, but here... pointless.
We're introduced to the rest of the Suicide Squad several times, which felt so odd. The first act is essentially a montage of introducing these characters, each of the members have their own song. That's another thing, the soundtrack is awesome, especially during the first act, lots of classic rock and whatnot. It just felt weird that we were shown what the character is capable of, alright cool, but instead they decide to show us what they can do again and it's like OK?
For instance when we first meet Will Smith's Deadshot. We see him performance an assassination, showing that he is an incredible shot. Then we're shown this again in an extended scene at a shooting range. I don't know why we had to be shown this twice, we get it, he's a good shot. Did Ayer think the audience was that stupid that we'd forget this information after 20 minutes? It was strange, no other member got this treatment.
That's another strange thing too. I wasn't too sure who the lead character would be in Suicide Squad, but this is very much a Will Smith vehicle. I'm not too fond of Will Smith in all honesty, but he was actually pretty good here. One of his best roles in years. He bought a heart to Suicide Squad that I didn't expect. Sure, it has some cheesy moments, he's doing it for his kid, but it worked and at least added some depth to the character that the rest of the members were sorely lacking.
Which brings me to the rest of the crew, who are utter canon fodder as far as I'm concerned. Jai Courtney gives his best performance to date, but his character is just nothing. A violent Australian who drinks in the middle of a fight. His character does nothing in the finale. The fire one, El Diablo gets a backstory in the form of an expositional talk at a bar that felt unnecessary. Killer Croc is just nothing, his design is awful. The last member of the team is completely wasted, an excuse to show off the explosives planted in their heads. He was essentially the first girl to die Battle Royale to show what the explosive collars did.
On the villain (Well, bigger villains) side of things. Cara Delevingne is awful. When she wasn't The Enchantress she was fine, but when she was, my word was she bad. I had no idea what they were going for. The design of here character was terrible, she looked like the little girl from The Ring wearing a skimpy outfit. The other truly bad guy of the piece, Amanda Waller, was awesome, Viola Davis's performance was more evil and messed up than anything the actual Squad did on screen.
This culminated to an awful and cliche finale. The whole "World destroying portal in the sky" thing has been boring for a while now. And what did Suicide Squad do? Exactly that. Most of the Squad get their moment to shine, one of them has the emotional epiphany and then its over, but not before one of the worst uses of CGI all year. The henchman to Cara Delevingne's Enchantress looks abhorrent, it looks recycled from Gods of Egypt. I cannot believe that this CGI abomination was allowed to make it to the screen. I complained about Doomsday at the end of Batman V Superman, but that looked way more convincing, which is impressive in itself (But not in a good way).
Some minor things that bugged me. This takes place in a post Batman V Superman world. Sure, okay. But where was Batman, The Flash or Wonder Woman during these world ending events of Suicide Squad? I know it's not their film, but if you set it in the same world, it feels weird that they wouldn't be trying to stop in some way. Batman does appear though, with about 3 minutes of screen time, if that. My other complaint, which is isn't the films fault is the age rating. This got slapped with a '15' rating in the UK, which is utter shambles, none of the content in this justifies this at all. I don't understand the BBFC at times, the Ultimate Edition of Batman V Superman is way more violent than this and that still got its 12 rating. So... what the hell?
Suicide Squad is out now on 4K UHD, Blu-ray and DVD in the UK
Watch the trailer below:
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