This review is spoiler free.
Another DCEU film, another panning from the critics and audiences. That seems to be the worrying theme at the moment as Warner Bros. latest offering suffers from many of the same problems that Batman V Superman had.
First of all the film felt like it was throwing too much at you, so much so it became disjointed and a chore to watch in parts. There was little to no character development, with some character motivations never explained or non-existent.
Yes the DCEU is in a difficult position in terms of their characters. They can’t afford to ‘do a Marvel’ and slowly build up their characters over a period of years. The fans want them now. They are playing catch up and are throwing these characters at you, but because of that it suffers. You have no connection to these characters. You have no history with them. If the members of ‘The Squad’ had appeared as villains in other DCEU movies the film would have felt more like a big deal.
The story was also very weak. The villains posed no threat and their motives and actions felt rather pointless. The CGI mess they made of Incubus was a disaster and made the Destroyer from Thor look realistic. Cara Delevingne’s Enchantress had so much promise with the way she transformed into character. The hands curling round had a wonderful horror element to it. But when she became the Green Aztec she just looked rather silly, like something out of one of The Mummy films.
One of the things this movie really, really gets massively wrong is The Joker and Harley Quinn. Ok so some of Leto’s scenes were cut from the final edit, but even so, what was that? When the image first landed of him as The Joker it was hard to take, but you had to have faith that they could do the character justice. But they didn’t. This ‘gangster pimp’ Joker was a monstrosity, and it was only in a few scenes that we got to see little sparks of anything resembling The Joker. There was no menace, no psychosis to the character. He was a love-struck horny pimp chasing after his girl. This is not the dynamic of The Joker and Harley Quinn’s relationship.
So what about Harley Quinn? First of all we get it, she’s crazy. Non-comic fans would get that impression from the first time they saw her on screen. You don’t need to ram it down your audience’s throats or smash them on the head with a giant mallet every time she opens her mouth or does something. As already mentioned, her relationship with The Joker is all backwards and this version of their ‘mad love’ was just one big mess. Ok so it was awesome that we got to see a glimpse of her in her traditional outfit, but the clothing of Harley Quinn was just atrocious. She was a piece of meat on screen, with some scenes clearly framed so that you can see as much of her lower half as possible. I’m sure the boys and girls who fancy her enjoyed it, but the amount of regurgitation of this sexist strategy became a real irritation.
We will do a full article on the issues of Harley Quinn and The Joker in the near future.
Other characters who suffered from the poor script were Rick Flag, Killer Croc and Katana. There was so little development and explanation of Katana’s backstory and motives that she just felt like such an afterthought of a character.
So what about the complaints about the music? First of all the music was key in the trailers and really felt like it had a purpose, setting the tone and style of the movie. However, the first thirty minutes of the movie felt like one big music video. Unlike the trailers, there seemed no meaning or connection between the music and what we were seeing on-screen. Die-hard fans will try to draw comparisons to Guardians of The Galaxy, but these are unfounded as the music was key to different story elements and was almost another character in the movie. It was also laced throughout the movie, where as in Suicide Squad it was crammed in at the start then is non-existent until the closing act.
But despite all of these bad things, the film did have its shining moments.
Going in to it, Will Smith was a big concern. But despite one or two typical one-liners, he was surprisingly good. The character was given plenty of backstory and room to show his talents. He did feel like the true leader of the team and someone you would want to see more of in future DCEU movies.
Viola Davis gave a great performance as Amanda Waller, truly nailing down the viciousness of the character. They did go and spoil it in the post-credits scene though, where all her presence and threat was taken from underneath her in what felt like a pointless extra scene.
Jai Courtney was also a standout star of the film as Captain Boomerang. He was the one of the few characters in the movie that managed to capture their comic book character perfectly. He was stupid, treacherous and uncaring. The only thing that was missing was more actions scenes to show us what he can do with his boomerangs. Hopefully this will be addressed in future films.
Some of the action and humour was perfectly balanced and at times the tone of the film felt like they hit the right beats. Visually at times the film was stunning, despite the strange choice of editing.
It is always easy to pick apart the bad things of a film, hence why this review is packed full of more negatives than positives. But don’t let this review fool you. OK yes, it has some terrible story, editing and character choices, but the movie is still fun and enjoyable to watch. If you know and love the characters in this film you may struggle at times because many are so different from any of the source material. But having heard back from non-comic book fans, they seem to love them. And its performance at the box office shows that this film is getting people in to watch it, and they are enjoying it.
Suicide Squad is a fun, but frustrating film, that has just as many highs as it does lows. The film is visually striking at times but is let down by a weak story and bizarre editing.