Tuesday, 6 September 2016

Tuesday's Reviews - Suicide Squad (2016)

I've recently stated on more than one occasion recently that I wasn't going to watch Suicide Squad until it came out on DVD. I just didn't give enough of a shit and, from everything I heard, it seemed fucking awful. I'm not the biggest Will Smith fan these days and Jared Leto's Joker was obviously nothing more than a marketing ploy. In my mind there were too many wild cards that I just wasn't sure would work. I mean Cara Delevingne seems like a funny and lovely person but I couldn't see her in this role. I could see why she would be picked as the manic pixie dream girl in a John Green adaptation but the all powerful Enchantress? I didn't like the sound of it. Plus, there was too much pressure on Margot Robbie to pull off Harley Quinn. I, like the entire internet, love the character so was worried as soon as the film was announced. It would be such a Warner Bros thing to completely fuck up one of the greatest female characters in the DC universe. Still, surely it couldn't be as bad as the dreary Man of Steel? I still haven't seen Batman vs Superman so still have hope that DC can, one day, pull off a Marvel. Would Suicide Squad blow it's closest MCU equivalent The Avengers out of the water?

I have to admit that, because my expectations for this film were so low, I actually liked it more than I expected. I mean it was a hot mess but it wasn't as fucking dreadful as I expected. High praise indeed considering how much Zac Snyder has ruined the DC movieverse for me so far. Still, Suicide Squad feels almost indistinguishable from the likes of Man of Steel if you ask me. It's dark, muddled, and cares more about style than substance. Plus, you can't help to shake the feeling that without the success of Deadpool recently this film would have been a humour free zone. The hurried inclusion of some banter and one-liners doesn't really sit well and there is a real lack of quotable lines. Really, for the most part this film couldn't hold my attention. If it wasn't for a couple of great performances then this would have been a different review.

But let's not get ahead of ourselves. Suicide Squad, like The Avengers back in 2012, was cursed with the task of introducing all of these new characters to the audience and each other before shoving them into the middle of a battle with evil. The problem is there are too many villains to introduce and too much exposition needed before we even get to the antagonist and their undefined problems with mankind. Suicide Squad collapses under the weight of everything it needed to do and be. It can't keep all of its characters in check and it never gets control of its plot. Everything is muddled and incredibly undefined. The editing and direction are both terrible which only succeeds in making the already confusing and holey narrative even more confusing.

It starts off with Amanda Waller (Viola Davis) meeting with some government types and requesting that her Taskforce X be funded in case the next metahuman to find their way to Earth is more hostile. Her plan is to bring together some of the world's most dangerous criminals and force them to fight for good. The theory being that they are expendable but incredibly talented in the killing and destruction stakes. After some persuasion Waller and Special Forces operative, Rick Flagg (Joel Kinnaman), bring together some big hitters: trained assassin Deadshot (Will Smith); the crazy criminal Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie); the thief Captain Boomerang (Jai Courtney); the fiery-tempered gang leader Diablo (Jay Hernandez); mutant Killer Croc (Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje); and the magical Enchantress (Cara Delevingne). When a great evil threatens the city Flagg is instructed to watch over the taskforce with the help of the sword-wielding Katana (Karen Fukuhara) and help them save the Earth.

The problem with this impressive cast-list is that there are too many characters to introduce and Warner Bros know who the big-hitters are going to be. Will Smith was the biggest name here and Harley Quinn is the fan favourite character. As such a lot of time is given to their backstory and motivations whilst their teammates are relegated to reaction shots and awful punchlines. Captain Boomerang made such a non-impression that I kind of forgot he was there and Killer Croc was so wasted the person who wrote the final script deserved to be locked up with him. As for Katana, well I didn't think it would be possible for another sword-wielding woman to be less exciting than Age of Apocalypse's Psylocke but, once again, DC prove that they'll always be shitter than Marvel.

There's just too many balls in the air here that you don't really care about any of the characters. Yes, you kind of feel bad for Deadshot and his attempt to be a good father-figure and, yes, Harley Quinn's damaging romance with the Joker (Jared Leto) is explored a bit. However, you can't help but want more. You needed more time for the characters to be themselves and get to know each other. Instead you just get a montagey introduction at the start and then straight action from then on. It's not enough and it mean the stand-out performances just don't matter. I mean, Margot Robbie nailed Harley in this film but she was given fuck all in the way of material to work with. She's proved that she's a great actor but she barely had anything to work with. Viola Davis is another name who is always associated with greatness but even Waller needed more definition and introduction. She's a badass, there's no doubt about it, but we needed to see more of her and understand more about her motivations. She's just a generic evil government type and it's not good enough,

Still, it could have been worse. One of these two could have ended up playing the villain who is the character to get the least amount of work in this entire thing. If a comic book movie really is defined by its villain then Suicide Squad is unmemorable, confusing and has undefined aims. Warner Bros seems content to continually release action films that are all about the action without really giving a shit how we get there. Who cares who the antagonist is as long as enough people die and enough buildings get blown up? Well, actually, a fuckload of people care about it. Suicide Squad seems to be ticking off a list of things it needed to include and not giving a damn about whether it works or not. The desire to create darkness but placing everything in shadow is stylistically problematic when it comes to the action sequences. The final showdown is difficult to follow and doesn't really stand up against most of the existing comic book finales. Even Marvel's formulaic structure seems more exciting than this guff.

I know I said that Suicide Squad exceeded my expectations but I don't want to pretend it was any good. It had a lot of potential and could have been great. However, it's obvious when watching that the initial concept has been fucked with so much that it never stood a chance. It's a not very well kept secret that a lot of Jared Leto's scenes were left out of the final cut and there are other obvious moments where things got cut short. This deserved to be a better film because Warner Bros needed a hit after two middling releases from the DCEU. It wasn't fair to ask Suicide Squad to make amends for the wounds that Zac Snyder's shit gave to us but this piece of garbage wouldn't even have repaired a paper cut.  If this gets a second chance in the form of a sequel I suggest that the bigwigs back off a bit and let someone who understands comic book movies take control. If Marvel make it look so easy then how can DC continue to fail so hard?

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