I could write an entire article on the disparity of aggregate review sites, like Rotten Tomatoes, and how they don’t represent the voice of the fans, but there are enough articles out there to dig into that issue. I only bring this up because the DC movies, leading up to Suicide Squad, have taken a beating. This brings us to Suicide Squad and the poor critical reception so far. If I could give any advice, it would be to not make snap judgments of a movie based off an arbitrary percentage. Instead, find a critic who you understand (and may not always agree with). If you understand how a particular critic writes, where they’re coming from or what they look for, it’s easier to judge how your movie-going experience is going to be.
But seriously, the best critic you know is you.
Now, allow me to give my take on DC’s latest offering, “Suicide Squad.”
The Suicide Squad is a group of lesser known villains from DC comics. Amanda Waller (Viola Davis), a powerful government agent has decided to recruit bad guys into a task force that must do her bidding. If they try to run or fight back, she has the switch that will automatically kill them. They’re dispensable anti-heroes, with abilities, that can be replaced without a second thought.
The two notable leads among the villainous wild bunch are Deadshot (Will Smith), an assassin/marksman and Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie), a perky psychopath (to put it lightly).
These two are joined by Agent Rick Flag (Joel Kinnaman), Captain Boomerang (Jai Courtney), The Enchantress (Cara Delevingne), Diablo (Jay Hernandez) and Killer Croc (Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje). Oh, and let’s not forget the latest incarnation of the Joker (Jared Leto).
Leto’s version of the Clown Prince of Crime is a literal representation of that title. He seems like an entitled gangster that pays no mind to consequences or even actions. He sets himself apart from Nicholson and Ledger’s classic takes. His scenes are too sparse to give him proper judgement, but I can tell you that I felt uneasy every time he commanded the screen.
In fact, the majority of the cast are impressive. It’s so refreshing to see Will Smith have fun again. He doesn’t necessarily deviate from his charismatic self, but he is exactly what this movie needs. He brings the heart when everything around him is chaotic. Margot Robbie has the task of finally bringing Harley to life on the big screen. She is nearly perfect. Whether or not DC decides to give this movie a sequel is one question, but the use of Harley Quinn in future films is a guarantee. What works best here is the incredibly bizarre codependent relationship between Harley and Joker. He’s really quite awful, if I’m going to understate the case. Yet, Harley’s ideal version of Joker is a family man with traditional values. I’m excited to see the future interplay of these two characters.
The characters all work to a certain degree. Yet, the movie is missing what makes this team gel together. The squad never seems cohesive. The interactions largely feel forced and, worst of all, they don’t seem to be having much fun. In a movie that’s been marketed as the most gleeful and chaotic movie of the summer, the squad goes through the motions in order to reach the apocalypse-of-the-week.
Initially, the movie scrambles to find a beginning. When it does, all thanks to Viola Davis’ Waller, the style feels fresh and thankfully rushes through the origin stories of our Squad lineup. Following that first act, things get real messy, real quick. The Squad travel through the city without much guidance, until some bland reason is apparently mentioned later. The editing feels so off, that I can’t help but feel that large chunks were removed in order to speed up the movie. I loved that this comic book flick only focuses on one mission. In that way, it feels different than anything else in the genre. However, by the end, it feels so piecemeal, that I couldn’t help but wish the Squad was at least given a story and a mission that truly rallied them together.
There are several scenes near the end that gave me a glimpse of the magic I could have been watching (notably, the bar scene and their visions). Yet, the climax is so haphazard, that you remember you’re watching a comic book movie. I hate being reminded that things just happen because… super powers.
It is my sincere hope that David Ayer is holding onto a Director’s Cut, ala Batman v Superman. It’s clear WB stepped in at several points and tried to make the movie more funny. Sadly, they just added comedic misfires and made me stop caring about these characters I actually liked. I hope that in four months I’m holding a copy of the 2 hour 41 minute Suicide Squad: Ultimate Cut. There is something great hidden in the mess that is Suicide Squad. The problem is, it’s still very messy. B-