Suicide Squad (August 2016)

*SPOILER WARNING*

Apologies to my fellow comic book nerds and Hot Topic patrons. Although I anticipated the release of Suicide Squad for months with great excitement, upon actually seeing the movie, the coveted top spot still belongs to Nerve. Somebody let Zack Snyder near this film; I can taste it.

Suicide Squad was the big-screen debut for many of this movie’s comic-based cast, and you could tell that the writers wanted to skip the who’s-who and cut right to the chase. I don’t know what DC has against origin stories (yep, still bitter about BvS giving Cyborg ten seconds of screentime and trying to pass that off as an introduction), but it definitely didn’t help smooth out this movie’s cluttered exposition. Another problem evident from the start was the soundtrack; the pre-release album left no surprises. And man, the only thing worse than a movie that lacks an engaging plot is one with a score that’s already overplayed.

Something noteworthy about this movie: some of the fan theories I’d read online proved to be much more interesting than the movie’s actual plot. Some people thought Batman would serve as the movie’s antagonist. Others predicted Rick Flagg would turn out to be Bane. In my opinion, if the writers had taken the biggest leap and had Joker Leto turn out to be Jason Todd, this review might be a touch less critical. Instead, the movie’s biggest shock was that the tatted-up Gangster (cough, I mean Joker) was NOT the main villain. Who takes the spotlight away from the JOKER? I may have disliked Leto’s #edgy portrayal of the classic DC villain, buT, the Clown Prince of Crime is no movie’s side character!

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Aside from the awesome new laugh, there wasn’t much I liked about Leto’s Joker. The other characters fared no better in my report; Harley Quinn’s dialogue ranged from cute/edgy to downright cringeworthy. Killer Croc had about four or five lines in the whole movie. Katana was stuck as a generally non-English speaking background character. Boomerang wasn’t played by Tom Hardy. I didn’t know if I was supposed to see Amanda Waller as a stoic Nick Fury type or just a straight-up mass murderer. The only well-rounded characters the movie had going for it were Deadshot, Diablo, and Dr. Moone. Deadshot seemed to be more in touch with reality than the rest of the crew, and easily had some of the movie’s best lines. Enchantress was badass. Up until that awkward final scene, she looked like she’d crawled right out of Mama (2013). (Side note: Wouldn’t it have been interesting if quiet Dr. Moone had been a part of the baddie brigade?) My favorite character by far was Diablo; he was the only one focused on self-reform. He was complex, conflicted, and suppressing a power that was too hot to handle (OOOHHH). My favorite part of the movie was his moment of clarity, the part of the climax when he finally understands that he can’t change what he did in the past. I loved him. But hey, the power of shock-value death is stronger. (What, me? Bitter?)

Something that bothered me about Suicide Squad was the fact that any friendship, unity, common ground the characters found seemed incredibly forced. The squad never trained together (c’mon, after all of those lengthy flashbacks, one training montage wouldn’t have hurt), or had any sort of bonding experiences that might bring them together. Somehow, it doesn’t seem likely that these hardened criminals would be calling each other “friends” or “family” after spending mere days together in the field. And don’t talk to me about the bar scene. I’m not even going to dignify that poor excuse for relationship building with a response.

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The biggest problem I had with this film was that, once the main antagonist was introduced, the plot held no surprises for me. Nothing relevant happened that we couldn’t have anticipated beforehand. Everyone in the audience knew that Slipknot was going to die. Everyone in the audience knew that the Joker wasn’t really dead. This ploy didn’t work in BvS (Suicide Squad gets points off for even mentioning the events of BvS during the film’s runtime), so why would anyone working on this movie think using it again was a good idea? Ayer was undeniably aware that most of Suicide Squad’s viewers would have at least a basic understanding of the DC universe; why not throw the audience a curveball? I’ve never gotten very far into the Batman comics (or any DC comics, for that matter), and this movie made me feel….jaded.

Needless to say, Suicide Squad wasn’t the best antihero movie I’ve ever seen. That (and all of the above) being said, some parts of it were quite entertaining to watch. However, said parts were marginally less entertaining than imagining David Ayer yelling “THAT’S NOT ENOUGH BULLET CASINGS! WE NEED MORE!!” into a megaphone. Not by a long shot.

GRADE: C+

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