Review: ‘Suicide Squad’ Doesn’t Make Sense Even By Comic Standards
Title: Suicide Squad
Director: David Ayer
Screenwriter: David Ayer (written) and John Ostrander (comic book)
Principal Cast: Will Smith, Margot Robbie, Viola Davis, Jai Courtney, Jay Hernandez, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, Cara Delevingne, and Joel Kinnaman
Summary: A secret government agency recruits imprisoned supervillains to execute dangerous black ops missions in exchange for clemency.
There are times when I lament the fact that I write for two different outlets and often will write two reviews for the same movie. However, this is not one of those times because my first review for Suicide Squad was done and I realized that I had barely touched on everything that I wanted to say about this one. I’ve been curious about Suicide Squad in the same way I was curious about Marvel when they announced Guardians of the Galaxy. It seemed like an odd choice, but I was interested to see where this studio would go with something different. DC and Warner Bros were even more interested in this movie being excellent after Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice was critically panned. This movie went from being an oddball entry to having to justify the existence of the DC Cinematic Universe.
Suicide Squad suffers from a truly terrible script that makes zero sense and gives none of its character time to develop.
This is a movie I should love on the surface. A bunch of weird characters thrown together and forced to team-up? My love for team dynamics should have been so satisfied I would be happy for weeks. Instead Suicide Squad decides to forgo most of a first act and the entire second act where those bonding moments are usually made to throw the characters into a paper thin plot. These people are supposed to be entertaining and crazy but I didn’t care about a single one of them because they aren’t given any time to develop. The people that get the most screentime, Deadshot (Will Smith) and Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie), don’t even have time to grow over the course of the movie. The script doesn’t seem keen to give these people time to feel like people that we find engaging to watch. If there isn’t a single person in your cast worth rooting for, you havent made them engaging to watch and the movie fails completely.
The central relationship between The Joker (Jared Leto) and Harley is something else that rubbed me the wrong way. The comics spent a good portion of the last decade or so romanticizing this relationship, but in recent years Harley has regained her agency and broke away from the man that has abused and manipulated her. The movie, however, doesn’t come down as hard on that as it should. There aren’t any real moments where the movie presents their relationship in a truly negative light, and Harley spends the entire movie chasing after the man she loves. A woman in comics is allowed to have a love life, but Harley doesn’t seem to have an identity beyond ‘being the Joker’s girlfriend’. She is a great character that has multiple dimensions to her but the movie is much more focused on who she is sleeping with and making her as wacky as possible.
The wackiness felt like a cheap ploy to ape the comedy of Marvel movies like Ant-Man and even more so Guardians of the Galaxy. Unlike those two movies Suicide Squad is not nearly as funny or as quirky as it thinks it is. A few months ago I said that Warner Bros and DC would like to thank Marvel and the Guardians of the Galaxy for its marketing campaign and I wasn’t that far off. Unlike those previous movies Suicide Squad does not live up to its stellar marketing no matter how many classic rock songs they awkwardly insert. The actors are all fine but the script doesn’t give them much of anything to work with. I’m not entirely sold on Leto’s Joker, though, since it felt like it was trying really hard to come off as ‘edgy’ and instead looked silly and not even in a comic book kind of way.
Suicide Squad is a movie I have written two length reviews about because this is one of the most frustrating movies I’ve seen this year. I knew that Batman v Superman was going to be bad but this is the DC movie that I’ve been looking forward to. With a story that makes no sense, even by comic book standards, and a script that decided skipping an opening and second act was a good idea, there is a lot more here to dislike than there is to like. The metaphor to describe the current slate of DC/WB movies is as follows; Batman v Superman was like a sucker punch to the face while Suicide Squad was a kick to the shins. While one is objectively better than the other it doesn’t make either of them good.