Damaged Goods: A review of Suicide Squad

suicide squad.jpg

For all its worth, I was really looking forward to Suicide Squad and I’m not gonna rant at DC, but it must be said that I didn’t hate Batman V Superman, although I thought Man of Steel was terrible.

I also don’t want to compare Suicide Squad to Guardians of the Galaxy, because while it’s a fairly obvious comparison, both films were wild cards that used music and a cast of interesting characters to lure people in with excellent trailers, it’s not quite fair to the Squad but it might be necessary.

In fairness to DC, I’m still looking forward to Wonder Woman and, to some extent, Justice League, yet I must admit at how underwhelming an experience Suicide Squad was. And I’ve seen it twice now, the second time in 3D, so I could properly gather my thoughts on it.

Which is a shame because I was lured in by the trailers, the vibrant marketing campaign and the prospect of Margot Robbie as Harley Quinn and I really wanted this Film to make up for a summer that had only a handful of good Movies in it.

But no. Suicide Squad was fine, it wasn’t terrible but it wasn’t great and I’m hesitating in actually calling it good. It’s a messy Film with too much going on and a pacing problem that occasionally has moments of genius yet rarely shines as bright as the promise of its trailers.

I think it is down to a studio issue, who clearly tried to turn the Film from an auteur vision into something that would appeal to a more general market. From artificially injected humour, to franchise set up and inconsistency in pacing, it’s a Film that should have been left in the capable hands of its director/writer David Ayer.

All the pieces are there, most of the time I can see a really great Film amongst it all, yet this is not it.

It clearly stems from the trailers, when after the first one was released, the studio amped up the second one with more humour and a rollicking Queen song to make it seem fun. Their thinking, well if Guardians of the Galaxy could do it, then so can we.

Nope. Suicide Squad is not built around these songs and the most annoying thing about the Film is how there’s way too many of them. Song after song after song to make you think, hey, this is fun. But this is the strange instance in which the studio should have just stuck to their guns and gone dark and moody.

Yes, I know that it’s pretty hypocritical of the people who wanted DC to be less gloomy to actually dislike the increase in levity, but hey, it feels like Guardians of the Galaxy has just been tacked onto Escape from New York.

And I’m sorry to compare, but they’re two superhero studios creating Movie universes, and that’s what happens. You compare, contrast and analyse.

It’s not all bad. The cast is great. Harley Quinn is perfect, awesome and the best piece of casting since Downey Jr got cast as Iron Man. Will Smith does a slightly meaner version of Will Smith and gets the best action set piece of the Film.

The rest of the Squad are good if increasingly underused with the introduction of each new member. One might as well have not been there at all (ahem Slipknot) and poor Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje gets so little to do under so much makeup, but he does get the best line of the Film “I’m Beautiful”.

Then there’s Jared Leto’s Joker, whose performance consists of looking into the air and laughing, shooting a gun and laughing, then threatening people and laughing. I’ve never been a great Batman fan, hell I wasn’t even a big lover of the Nolan ones, but at least Heath Ledger toned down the weird voice. This is mostly annoying, despite a pretty cool design and some decent moments of menace. “I’m just gonna hurt you, really, really, bad”

Unfortunately, Cara Delevingne also fails to capture the imagination with one of the most ridiculous screen villains of the years. It starts well, June Moon is sympathetic and the initial, disjointed witch visage of the Enchantress is effectively creepy. But once her brother arrives and she becomes some Queen of the Damned rip-off, it becomes bland rather than scary.

Her plan to destroy the world has no basis in sense and the fractured pacing only makes the build up to her attack on the world even more confusing.

To make up for it, Viola Davis is a hard-assed government worker who uses her powers to get what she wants. She shoots to kill and threatens with her teeth bare, but I still don’t know why she wants to get the Squad together.

Maybe I missed something but the threat of Enchantress only appears after the Squad has been formed and there’s a bundle of scenes in which Joel Kinnaman’s Rick Flag, who is so incredibly bland, just appears in various places. There are so many questions.

Why does Enchantress go for that dude in the bathroom?

How did June and Rick get under the train station and why?

Why did he then leave only to go back later?

So many questions and more buzzing around my head. It was just a bit messy. All due respect to the director, who I’m sure had an excellent vision for this Film, but this ain’t it.

There’s decent beats of action, good moments of humour particularly from the unusually good Jai Courtney as Captain Boomerang, but it isn’t ever hugely memorable.

There’s also a bit of a problem with the female characters. Apart from Amanda Waller, Harley is very much sexualised, which despite a keen sexuality which is meant to be a part of the character, there’s often a little too much of a leering eye on her.

Katana is barely used and Enchantress is a bikini wearing, hip-shaking bore, whilst June Moon is just in need of rescuing from Mr Flag and the crew the whole time.

In the end, it’s a Film that has a lot of flaws but does retain a few elements of fun here and there. It’s way more reflective of the first trailer, which is a Film I wanted to see anyway, so I guess that’s kind of a win. Yet, the beginning is all over the place, there are too many introductions and it should’ve all begun at the military base before they flew into the city.

But what do I know, I’m just a critic.

Rating: C+

Extra points:

.The hell were those squishy headed henchmen about???

.The flashbacks told the story they needed to tell and nothing more.

.I enjoyed seeing Batman and even the glimpse of The Flash was exciting.

.Also second time 3D was worse. A dark Film plus 30% light loss sucked.

.But I did enjoy the neon style though

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