The marketing for this film has been PHENOMENAL! The playful neon overlaying the normally gritty aesthetic is great, and the perfectly-timed trailers to (Panic! At the Disco’s version of) Bohemian Rhapsody, You Don’t Own Me By Grace and Sweet’s Ballroom Blitz just knocked it out of the park. That 1st trailer (below) is one of the best trailers ever, seriously! Holy shit.
However, two days in advance, I booked tickets and got awesome seats. Hmm. When we arrived at the screen, we were told “free seating”, which was disconcerting — turns out on opening day, the theatre was less than half full. Was the poor turnout justified? Let’s find out!
Plot: A band of villains are released from their maximum security prison to fight off a deadly supernatural threat.
Cast/Crew: Written & Directed by David Ayer (Sabotage, Harsh Times), starring an ensemble cast of Will Smith, Margot Robbie, Jared Leto, Joel Kinnaman, Viola Davis, Jai Courtney, Jay Hernandez, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, Karen Fukuhara and Cara Delevingne.
We need to get these out of the way! There’s some overarching problems with the movie:
1) The writing and dialogue is just awful, particularly the second half of the movie. It’s a dumb script, aimed at teenagers to get a laugh (eg Killer Croc saying “I’m beautiful”). In fairness to them, they generally elicited a laugh, way more often than I expected.
2) The editing is poor – it’s chopped up extensively, like it was a 130-minute trailer. Tons of ‘record scratch’ one-liners & pauses that play GREAT in a trailer, but poorly in a feature film. Compounding the editing is the overuse of a licensed soundtrack. A couple times, sure (Star Trek Beyond had 2 and that was perfect), but this had about a dozen “this is the cool bit” music montages, which was overkill, and messed up the pacing of the film. I waited for the score (music that Suicide Squad could call it’s own) to get prominently featured but it never came.
3) The antagonists of the movie are exceptionally forgettable. It’s a huge blow finding out you don’t care about one half of the fight, and the driving force behind the story. If you’re going to bring up new (un-established) villains, you have to spend time with them making us care. Who are they? A supernatural witch “Enchantress” and her brother. What do they do? The witch does a 60s Go-Go dancer dance around CGI to strengthen her power. They have an Egyptian mummy vibe, which absolutely sucks. What do they have to say? Clunky dialogue (“we are a force you’ve never seen! Bow to me and blah blah blah”) which is wooden and could not be more generic. It’s like a Michael McGuillicutty promo! To try think better of it, you could argue the same happened with Ghostbusters 1984 (forgettable antagonist Gozer), but that movie had tightly paced, creative, sharp writing with memorable, lovable characters.
• The movie starts by introducing the villains in short backstory montages, debriefed on their mission and dropped into an abandoned city with a team of soldiers. As this is the first time we’re seeing these characters in this new DC reboot era, it’s enjoyable but they move on very quickly so it’s superficial.
• Margot Robbie as Harley Quinn: She IS this movie. She gets ample amounts of screen-time (and is incredibly gorgeous) but thanks to the awful dialogue, she barely ‘talks’; more spitting out her character’s quips. Because of that I don’t think she ever settled in the role. Don’t get me wrong, she’s main reason to see this movie. A small point, but her backstory made me sad: Rather than a smitten follower who had a psychotic break, we see that Joker gave her unneeded electroshock therapy and fried her brain into her new personality. So I viewed her as a tragic victim and not the loveable psychopath. She’s not evil of her own doing, and that’s such a downer.
• Will Smith as Deadshot: Apart from the initial cool hitman scene, he never does anything really Deadshot (ie badass trick shot kills). I get the feeling Smith took the part if he could completely fill out and betray the character. He’s this ruthless killer who works for the money, who’s also deeply emotional about his daughter, easy-going and affable, and has a high moral code. WHAT!? Smith is supposed to be the emotional core of the movie but it felt completely wrong for Deadshot, I never forgot he was Will Smith delivering monologues. The suit didn’t really suit him either. Pun mildly intended.
• Jared Leto as The Joker: He was great! Any time Leto was on screen was a highlight. He played a flashy crimeboss version of Joker that is manipulative and carefree, it was all top stuff. We just didn’t get enough of him. The film was chugging along and suddenly we get a flashback of him driving Harley in his shiny Infiniti G35 Vaydor and Batman gives chase. It was really very cool and I wish we could’ve just stayed in the flashback. I felt debuting a fresh new joker in a bit part of an ensemble movie was the wrong move. To maximise impact (AND MONEY!) Leto’s Joker should’ve been debuted in a standalone Batman movie and have Harley (and maybe Boomerang) by his side. What I’m saying is HE SHOULD’VE TAKEN THE MONEY!
• Joel Kinnaman as Col. Rick Flag: To my horror, Johnny Boring Army Dude has a HUGE amount of screen-time. Nobody cares about you or your missus, focus on the Suicide Squad, go away! Sadly Tom Hardy turned dwon this role, but similar-looking Jai Courtney was cast so it was probably for the best.
• Jai Courtney as Captain Boomerang (are Aussies offended by this stereotype?): He’s there just as comic relief, and a lot of jokes land, so good stuff. He’s a roustabout (his entrance is getting out of a bodybag and punching a solider; he swigs a can of alcohol whilst during a battle) and it works well.
• Jay Hernandez as El Diablo: Wasn’t needed. He shoots awful CGI fireballs out of his hands. His backstory is he killed his family in a fit of rage, and he’s shown cradling his unaffected-by-fire wife in his arms, and she literally fades out. I guess it was a memory (hence the fade out) but she should’ve turned to a burnt corpse if you wanted to get his trauma over. His story arc is out of nowhere, he calls the Suicide Squad his family – that was not earned.
• Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje as Killer Croc: Wasn’t needed. He was the lowest common denominator, spouting really base jokes. (“what do you want?” “B.E.T.”). Also, he was way too small (height and width-wise). When he took his hoodie off he looked terrible. Should’ve been like Killer Croc from Arkham Asylum, would’ve been way better!
• Viola Davis as Amanda Waller, the government official pulling all the strings. She does her job well; a reserve, stern, credible performance.
• Kitana did nothing (she talked to her soul-blade, fair enough) and Slipknot (the grappling lad) was hilariously jobbed out immediately to tell the squad the army guys mean business.
• For the world’s worst/deadliest criminals, they sure are a bunch of highly-moralled, charming good guys!
• People survive horrific helicopter crashes like they’re getting off a bus. Even the non-superheroes!
• I briefly knocked out about 10 minutes into the movie. V1 told me I was snoring for like 10 seconds but he didn’t wake me because it was hilarious.
• Batman’s cameo was fun! He’s only in a couple of minutes but it was great. Immediate business picking up! It left me sad that it’s just a flashback and we’re stuck in this movie. In respect with getting these characters over, the film did a horrible job. But it did make me want to see a Batman/Joker/Harley film – take my money!
• That said, I don’t like them foreshadowing/shoe-horning other DC heroes (eg a photograph of Aquaman) as they haven’t done a good enough job of getting the people over in the film we’ve paid to see (also that Aquaman looks awful! I’m not a good guy, or bad guy, I’m a fish guy!)
• I’m uncertain why DC feel the need to rush into blending their cinematic universe, instead of taking their time to establish the characters in stand-alone films. There’s far more money to be made making a Superman film, then a Batman film, then Batman vs Superman (then WonderWoman) THEN an ensemble movie.
• There is no arc for the Suicide Squad – they meet each other at the start and are friendly all the way through. Unlike in the Avengers (which had 2 Iron Man, 1 Thor, 1 Captain America movie to establish most of the cast), in the first ensemble film (Avengers 1), the superheros battled each other to be top dog, so when they finally work together as a team, you feel a great sense of accomplishment. There’s none of that here 🙁
• Was this supposed to be a Guardians of the Galaxy movie? V1 pointed it out near the start of the film, but tone/story/writing etc is far away from GOTG by the end.
• Although it features too prominently in the film, the licensed soundtrack is great. Grace, Eminem, Skrillex, Panic! at the Disco, CCR…lots of great choices.
• There’s no blood or gore, no nudity, but a couple instances of swearing. So like the writing, it’s aimed at teenagers.
• Steve was cool with it but I found it jarring having superheroes AND a supernatural gimmick in the same film (with the Suicide Squad and the Egyptian baddies). One’s metahuman and the other’s archaic power, they’re coming from different genres so it doesn’t really fit. Like if The Ring girl (Samara) showed up to fight the Avengers.
• With Batman, The Flash and other superheroes about, why are they releasing high-security prisoners to help the city? lol. That plothole is the least of their worries!
Overall: I don’t like bashing the film but I feel all of these points explain where the movie let itself down. It’s not a bad movie, but the antagonists and the writing is garbage. So many squandered opportunities, and I really hoped this would be great. Main reasons to see it is gawking at Margot Robbie, Jared Leto’s Joker, and Batman’s cameo. This movie makes for a couple of *outstanding* trailers, but a mediocre flick. C’mon DC, these characters and your audience deserve much better. 6/10.
By the way, who do you blame for this? The writer/director David Ayer? WB money-men hassling DC? It’s a massive let down.
Read our Star Trek: Beyond review! OSWreview.com/media/movie-star-trek-13