*SPOILER FREE REVIEW* One of the year’s most anticipated films has finally arrived and what do you know, it’s horrible. Although there were plenty of signs pointing towards this conclusion (last minute re-shoots, DC’s bad track record, etc.) no one wanted to admit it to themselves. Not only is it an incomprehensible mess, but I don’t even think it could work as a “crowdpleaser”, it’s all flash with little to no substance. While it was clear it wouldn’t be good, no one could’ve prepared themselves for this complete train wreck.
Suicide Squad attempts to juggle a few plots, with none of them really going anywhere. First, there’s the main plot in which government official, Amanda Waller (Viola Davis), assembles a team of super-villains to take out an even evil threat attempting to destroy the world. It’s clichéd, poorly thought-out and at times just doesn’t make sense (ex. Why would Waller assume the villains wouldn’t try to escape?, Doesn’t she realize that some of these villains are just TOO risky to let loose?, etc.). Not to mention the fact that the villain is extremely underwritten. Her motives are unclear, as is her exact intentions. She’s the most generic “evil” character I’ve ever seen in a summer blockbuster. Next, there’s a subplot involving Harley Quinn’s backstory and her relationship with The Joker. This is mostly told through cheap flashbacks in which everything is explained in short montages.
For example, the image I included in this review that has been used to promote the film, is only a mere sixty seconds long. Margot Robbie and Jared Leto give great performances, but unfortunately their characters’ lines are reduced to cheap comic-relief one-liners (Robbie) and awkward “thug slang” (Leto). I could accept The Joker’s new “thug” look, but Leto’s dialogue is just so embarrassing that it’s hard not to cringe while watching. Robbie’s dialogue isn’t too far behind. One second, Harley Quinn is a ditzy, comic relief and the next she’s a femme fatale with tricks up her sleeves. The two personalities don’t mix at all and don’t make sense. Then, there’s a subplot involving Deadshot (Will Smith) and his relationship with his daughter, a character only used to gain your empathy. (I haven’t even mentioned the fact that Ben Affleck makes a cameo as Batman in these two subplots and feels so forced). FINALLY, we are treated to yet ANOTHER plot involving Colonel Rick Flag and his romance with the good-turned-evil “squad member”, Enchantress. These last two plots are barely given any screen time, so when we’re expected to feel for these characters, they haven’t earned any empathy from the audience and as a result come across as forced and awkward. Speaking of which, there’s a scene towards the climax in which the main characters stop what they’re doing and go into a bar to have a couple of drinks while the world is being destroyed. Yet, there’s absolutely no self-awareness that comes with it and instead we listen to every character list off why we should feel bad for them before they go “into battle”.
But, there’s one major flaw in Suicide Squad that unfortunately was fatal. The editing. After receiving positive reactions at test screenings, Warner Bros. decided to go back and re-shoot scenes to add more action and more humor into the film, leaving most of the plot-heavy scenes on the cutting room floor. Jared Leto has even expressed in interviews how surprised he is at how many scenes of The Joker were cut from the final film (In the screenplay, The Joker was a central character, while in the film he has about thirty minutes scattered throughout). It’s very clear what was and what wasn’t part of these reshoots when all of a sudden a character will just start spouting out cheap, unfunny one-liners out of nowhere. It’s such a shame, because while the film still would’ve been flawed, it wouldn’t have been nearly as big of a mess. There are numerous scenes in this film that are just montages paired with classic rock tunes or modern rap. Artists such as Kanye West, Eminem, The Rolling Stones and Queen all have music featured in the film for merely seconds in the most random scenes. They don’t exist in the films universe, yet, they also don’t set the mood for the images on screen.