So this weekend I went to see the highly anticipated or why on earth are they bothering (depending on which side of the fence you sit) Suicide Squad. Having now seen it I suggest a new title: That time I let Zach Snyder and Co waste my money for a third time. Title may need work but you can see where this is going.
Now in the interest of fairness let’s start with the positives. Cara Delevingne delivers her four or five lines okay, Low angle tracking shots from behind Margot Robbie were inevitable and welcomed and Ben Affleck didn’t feature anywhere near as much as I thought he would.
Now the negatives and sit tight because there’s a few.
Harley Quinn and the squad of people you’ve never heard of:
Now, unless you are a rather large DC comics fan the only member of the Suicide Squad you may of actually heard of is Harley Quinn, the beautiful yet unhinged squeeze of Batman’s most formidable opponent and that’s okay. Here is what’s not okay. The directors writers and anybody else that would’ve been sat round the table in those early production meetings know this, so how do they choose to introduce their team of antiheroes? With what was affectively a fifteen minute game of Top Trumps inter-spliced with some crash bandicoot style graphics and angry Condoleezza Rice Aka Amanda Waller Aka the least threatening leader of any antihero task force that has ever been assembled, narrating their half arsed half scripted back stories. The issue here is twofold. Firstly background is key. And when I say this I don’t just mean in terms of developing characters in super hero blockbusters I mean in terms of developing characters in any film ever. It gives characters substance, it makes them relatable and most importantly it structures the narrative you’re about to tell and Suicide Squad does a mediocre job of introducing its big hitters (Deadshot and Quinn) and an even worse job of introducing the others, Diablo, Killer Croc, Boomerang and his incredibly poor Australian accent. Secondly and importantly to the bigger picture if DC seriously want to challenge Marvel in the summer blockbuster war, they can’t half develop characters or stories. Consider this the avengers is built on the back stories of all the biggest characters in the film and is set to release films on lesser characters such as Black Panther, so why didn’t DC do the same? Yes we all care about the big characters and this is where the big money will be made for DC with Justice League but in the meantime why not delve into the stories of Deadshot, Killer Croc and the other bloke?
Where is it?
After Superman’s death in Batman Vs Superman Amanda Waller forces the hand of senior government officials to build a task force capable of killing on command with no afterthought and to keep them all in line she inserts each of the members of her newly formed suicide squad with a small explosive chip which will turn their heads into confetti should they try to escape, turn on her etc. The plot from this point on is fairly easy to grasp. Enchantress gets loose tries to destroy human race by building a weapon suicide squad must stop her. Fairly simple. What isn’t simple is the way in which the story jumps around for the next two or so hours trying to cover an excessive amount of ground.
My biggest gripe with the script for suicide squad is the humour. Everybody that has ever laughed at anything understands full well that the best jokes are well timed, relevant to situation and natural. So as a simple rule of thumb Timing + Scenario + conviction = humour, a formula that is missed the whole way through. The writers seemed to take a much more fling some mud and see what sticks approach here and sadly not a lot stuck. The most appalling example of which is when Deadshot points a gun to the head of one of Rick Flagg’s minions and instead of crying and shitting himself he says this ‘if he kills me you need to do one thing, kill him and delete my browser history’ no just no. But if this example doesn’t convince you then just replace it with any of Harley Quinn’s 1343 ill placed and obvious one liners.
Suicide Squad or Focus?:
Casting is always an interesting subject. A handful of directors use a handful of actors for their films. Some like to give lesser known actors the chance to drive the narrative. And others like Suicide Squad use big names to draw in audiences, which is fine. What isn’t fine however is the way in which this film is so focused on its two biggest names. Will Smith and Margot Robbie are without a doubt the names that drove the marketing campaign and probably put a lot of bums on a lot of seats. But if I wanted to go and see a film where 90% of the dialogue was given to them I would’ve just watched Focus. Again credit where credit is due I think Margot Robbie is astatically everything you would expected Quinn to be however the absolute drivel she is made to recite throughout the film is a massive let down and Deadshot’s is equally as bad which isn’t great when they spend a fair portion of this one on screen.
Jared Leto is a brilliant actor and here he had some very big Heath Ledger shaped shoes to fill. Ledger’s portrayal of the Joker was terrifying, strange and gripping. So good in fact that you can see the mental anguish taking over him as the film progresses. Through no fault of his own Leto’s Joker is nowhere near as good but the character isn’t given a chance to develop (shock) and isn’t as involved as perhaps anyone would’ve liked. Not only is that but the feel of Suicide Squad massive steps away from the darkness of Nolan’s Dark Knight Trilogy. Personally I don’t think Leto was given much say in the portrayal of the character and what has me convinced here is the Twitter/Instagram fury unleashed by Die Antwoord lead singer Watkin Tudor Jones in the direction of the film’s director David Ayer. Jones’ accuses Ayer of stealing the Rap group’s style throughout the film. Google it.
Suicide Squad fails to deliver on any level. The script is poor, the story isn’t engaging and you will leave the cinema knowing as little as you did about the characters as you went in.
My advice don’t bother, save your pennies for the next Marvel instalments.
A very suicidal 2/10
By Lewis Grant