Written by Jake Wood
DC, Warner Brothers, Geoff Johns. You can’t keep hurting people like this.
To confirm your fears, yes, Suicide Squad is a terrible … terrible film – BORDERLINE hilariously bad (Comic Bastards contributor Justin Wood – no relation – will probably disagree and say it was actually hilariously bad, as he was cackling like a madman beside me through nearly the entire movie). It’s a complete shame, this was supposed to be DC’s Ace, right? This was supposed to be their Guardians of the Galaxy, this was supposed to be the counter to Man of Steel and Batman V Superman, this was supposed to be ... fun. Before the go-hard, angry DC mob starts sharpening their shivs, let me tell you briefly where I’m coming from.
Despite how hard I’ll ream this movie, I’m actually a DC fanboy. Green Lantern and Batman are my absolute favorites, and have been since I was a child. Geoff Johns’ near-historic run on Green Lantern is what got me in to comic books in a more serious capacity as a teenager. I’ve since lapsed in keeping up to date with Who’s-Who-In-The-DCU, but DC Comics has always held a special place in my heart. Why does Marvel have to have such a monopoly on quality comic book movies (though outside of Deadpool, they’ve been slipping as of late – but I digress)? It grieves me that outside of near-masterpieces Batman Begins, The Dark Knight, and (some will debate this) The Dark Knight Rises, DC/Warner Brothers can’t make a good live-action comic book movie to save their lives.
I started a joke, which started the whole world crying. But I didn’t see, that the joke was on me.
Let’s begin with where hope for this film was originally lit, the 2015 SDCC trailer for Suicide Squad; I re-watched it after seeing the final film, and damn is that probably the movie that writer/director David Ayer set out to make. That trailer, which DC/WB confusingly slut-shamed us all for watching bootlegs of (its 2016, leaked cellphone Comic Con videos are not something new … assholes), was haunting and dark and serious; DC was bringing out the bad guys – something which Marvel has never really been able to compete with DC over. This was NOT the movie we received; so what changed? January 19th, 2016. This is when the sultry sounds of Bohemian Rhapsody by Queen was brought in to the marketing campaign with that awesome first full-length trailer; likely the higher ups were seeing the writing on the wall - that the doom-and-gloom DC Cinematic Universe wasn’t meeting audiences’ needs, they wanted something different, something light-hearted, something weird, something fun. Almost assuredly they went in to full on meltdown mode when the frankly invigorating Deadpool opened and made just a stupidly-large amount of money (to date, Deadpool grossed more domestically than Batman V Superman and only 90 million dollars less internationally – at less than 1/4th the price); not only did Deadpool make all the Olivia-Munns (heh, you passed up Deadpool for Xmen Apocalypse), it was also significantly well-received by both critics and audiences. So now DC/WB had to scramble.
For those who don’t know, movie trailers are mostly cut by small contractors specializing in trailers and tv-spots; the contractor for Suicide Squad’s Rhapsody trailer, Trailer Park, was reportedly brought in to help with the editing of the final film – or as also reported, likely hired to edit a completely separate cut of the film from David Ayer. Based on the final version of the film I saw, it’s pretty clear that DC/WB took their wacky Trailer Park cut, and David Ayer’s cut, and smashed it together. John Gilroy is the sole credited editor, this man has edited films like Pacific Rim, Nightcrawler, and Narc (also Billy Madison – but I guess you gotta start somewhere); unless John Gilroy had a horrific motorcycle accident last year – this was clearly taken away from him and slapped together by hired guns and executives shooting wildly in to the air, hoping to hit anything. It’s utterly horrendous, it’s also inconsistent. I’ve seen where much ado has been made over the tacky pop-up graphics when characters are introduced, which are annoying and pathetic, but at least two members of the team inexplicably don’t have their stupid bios on screen: Katana, and Slipknot (who?). The Joker, while technically not a member of Task-Force X, doesn’t get one either, but Enchantress, also not part of the team lineup (also the main villain by the way), does.
“Aren’t Will Smith and Margot Robbie highlights of the movie though?” You may be asking. “What about Jared Leto’s inspired Joker performance?” It’s actually completely maddening how not one single character in Suicide Squad is done well. Not one. Maybe Viola Davis’ Amanda Waller skirts by. This is not to say it’s entirely the actors faults though, several members of the cast are good if-not-great actors: Will Smith, Margot Robbie, Jared Leto, Viola Davis, Jay Hernandez, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje (Mr. Ecko!!!). David Ayer seems to have directed all of these actors as if Hack/Fraud Amateur-Director Jake Wood had directed them. It’s gonna get as tiring as the character biographies in the actual film, but let’s run down the list (and by that I mean, say a lot on a few bigguns – and then cram the rest in at the end).
Margot Robbie – One of the two most-talked about performances in the film, does she at least do Harley Quinn (arguably the most anticipated remaining comic book character to have yet appeared in a live-action film) justice? Y’know, Margot Robbie is probably perfect casting on paper, and she does her damnedest. She seems to have had the time-of-her-life in the role, but every line coming out of her mouth is poorly written and every choice for her made by the director leaves us wanting. Why is Harley Quinn even on the team (because the script said so)? She has no power, she’s not some well-renowned fighter, or anything like that. She has a baseball bat and a gun (that never needs reloading – but y’know… movies); she’s just a liability on the team, an insanely beautiful liability. I should also address the objectification factor a little bit, which, as a living human person, I admittedly appreciated the costume choice of New 52 Harley Quinn booty-shorts (If you’re worried – yes, your precious jester outfit makes an ultra-brief appearance too). I’ve seen some criticism that “the amount of Margot Robbie butt-shots outnumbers the total number of shots for some supporting characters”; well I kept track, and I counted roughly 15 hottie-boom-bottie glamour/butt-shots – actually a difficult task when you have to make a distinction as to whether the shot just happened to have her hot-pants in it, or if it was intentionally setup to highlight her butt or not. I'm sure to many, 15 objectifying shots is 15 shots too many, and I certainly can understand that, but that number is far less than I would have expected. I actually think there’s a different character that people should be more up-in-arms about (Enchantress). Also they actually bothered to give her a bra, and this is knowing that she spends the last 20 minutes of the movie completely soaked, so there’s no repeat of Kirsten Dunst’s glass-cutting nipples in Spider-Man here. We’ve come a long way people!
Will Smith – You turned down Independence Day Too for this? For this??? I’m so sorry. I don’t have too much to say about Deadshot. Will Smith is Will Smith, nothing particularly special. His character is one of the few that actually makes sense to be on Task Force X (I’m also admittedly not an expert on Deadshot, so I couldn’t tell you how true to the character he is). Being the only certifiable movie star, Big Will gets the first introduction in the film (oddly enough, before even Amanda Waller and the concept of the team), and has to pretend to be fatherly to a poor child actor that will sadly never make a real career out of this acting thing. Why wasn’t Jaden just his kid? Even though Deadshot’s kid is a daughter – from what I understand, Jaden would love that kind of challenge; or why not the "Whip My Hair" girl, Ziggy Smith or whatever her real name is? I want to insult the daughter (did she even have a name?) more, but I don’t feel comfortable with it unless one of Will Smith’s actual talentless kids played the part. I’m sorry you had to get “Skwad” tattooed on you (much like the cast of The Lord of The Rings, the Suicide Squad cast all got tattooed together).
Academy Award Winner, Jared Leto – Sigh. You were in Lord of War, man. So DC’s Cinematic Universe’s Joker is here. Gangsta-rap Joker, everybody. It’s as bad as you feared, and his role is as small and inconsequential as you feared. He’s so serious, except for literally one line about grape soda. If you’ve never seen FilmCow’s great YouTube video The Joker’s New Tattoos, finish reading this review, then go and watch it (it’s a minute long). Obviously they had to step away from Heath Ledger’s iconic performance, or Jack Nicholson’s iconic performance, or Mark Hamill’s iconic performance, or Cesar Romero’s iconic performance, but Jared Leto’s Joker is just all over the place, and he’s clearly enamored with his own shtick (I hope Ben Affleck tells him to leave all the dead animal gifts at home when his Batman film happens). I’m sure David Ayer thought this was the next Jack Sparrow (Fun fact: Johnny Depp got an Oscar Nom for the first Pirates). I’m not even mad about 99% of the tattoos, or the grills, or the VIP Playah look; really, it’s modern and Jim Lee’s Joker with the Yakuza tattoos worked for me. It just bothers me to no end that they put “Damaged” on his forehead, I can tolerate literally all of it – except that one. It’s just the bottom-of-the-barrel Hot Topic idea for the Joker, it’s stupid, and shallow. Harley Quinn has “Lucky You” tattooed on her pelvis, but personally it would’ve been the greatest joke ever if she had a matching “Damaged” scrawled above her baby-maker.
Joel Kinnaman – I had heard that Cara Delevingne’s performance is the worst in the film. This came in to doubt when Robocop Remake Joel Kinnaman opened his mouth. Holy cow is he insufferable. His character, Rick Flag, is annoying and doesn’t pull his weight. How was (the originally cast) Tom Hardy supposed to work with this? Twice in the film his character is overwhelmed and has to be saved by the real stars of the film. He’s only in this movie because Rick Flag was a founding member of the team in the books, and also because someone had to fall in love with Enchantress so they could have some faux-emotional-investment.
Cara Delevingne – My alma-mater once did a children’s stage show of The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe, and in it, the girl who played the White Witch gave this amazingly shrill and over the top performance - that was great in the context of an amateur stage play meant for little kids. On an unrelated note, Cara Delevingne is terrible and couldn’t act her way out of a wet paper bag in this major motion picture meant for adults and teenagers. I suppose I’m half out of line with any comparison to that White Witch performance, because she’s technically not shrill – as in her Enchantress form, she is dubbed over by a much deeper voice (recorded by an actual actress). Watching her chew the scenery like it’s never been chewed, I found myself imagining what her actual performance sounded like on set and just laughing to myself. Her movement is so stilted and awkward, it’s like she was doing a knockoff of that Samara ghost girl from The Ring but without the help of choppy editing. Watch her closely during the climax because she’s doing this hilariously bad belly dance jig which is meant to be her performing her spells. Earlier I mentioned that people should be more up in arms about Enchantress than Harley Quinn, because this girl spends nearly the entirety of the film in a Slave Leia + Pig-Pen from Peanuts bikini, or in her true-form where her magic-energy costume (not unlike 2009’s Green Lantern’s costume) is tastefully covering only her bits. None of these looks are ever remotely close to anything I’ve ever seen the character in (or that I can see in a Google image search). Her true-form (which I imagine was added in reshoots because it only recently started showing up in marketing) is nearly an actionable rip-off of Galadriel’s magical look in The Lord of the Rings, and oddly enough her headdress looks like something of Big Barda’s. Pretty girl though, she should be a model – oh right that’s where she came from. I’m so sorry this acting thing isn’t working out for you.
Academy Award Nominee, Viola Davis – She’s probably the person who’ll come out the cleanest on the other end of this disaster (which is really appropriate considering the character right?). Just one thing, though. Talking while chewing? That’s hella rude. You work with these people.
The rest of ‘em – Jai Courtney as Captain Boomerang, this is actually the least forgettable Jai Courtney has ever been. Most of the laughs actually revolve around him. Also remember that great moment where he cracks open a beer while shit’s going down? We never see where he gets the beer. An insert shot would’ve been nice, DAVID. Jay Hernandez as El Diabo, hey you have an actual superpower, way to go. You also ruined that great bar scene by awkwardly telling your TERRIBLE backstory that we didn’t need elaborated on. We got it, you did some bad stuff but now you’re trying to change. Adam Beach as Slipknot, a person who is definitely a beloved DC comic book character, and not just cannon fodder. Frankly, I’m glad there are more Margot Robbie butt-shots than shots of his character. Scott Eastwood as Unnamed SWAT Team Lackey; they’re trying to make him a thing right now, but he will soon go the way of Sam Worthington/Taylor Kitsch. Mr. Ecko from LOST plays Killer Croc and it’s maybe the saddest thing about this movie. They didn’t bother redubbing him, and it seems like his brain was lagging from the heat of being in that make up, he’s barely understandable at times. The single worst line delivery in the movie is attributed to him saying he’s beautiful, I felt SO embarrassed for him. And lastly, Karen Fukuhara as Katana; I want to give her special commendation, going in to the final battle, there’s this weird moment where she is absolutely sobbing and saying goodbye to her husband’s soul (which is trapped in her magic sword) in case she dies. This was honestly the most touching moment of any sentiment in the film. You go girl.
Do you guys even care about the plot at this point? It’s pretty straight forward, which is apparently refreshing when compared to the simple plot of Batman V Superman (a joke – I haven’t bothered to watch BVS yet), it’s all just a single mission, no practice run, no training up the team, just “get this person out of a building in a city under attack by Enchantress.” It’s kinda like Dredd, but with none of the redeeming qualities of Dredd. That’s the thing, I have the same criticism of Guardians of the Galaxy. Both movies were kinda built up as “we’re getting in to the weird stuff in our Universe,” but both films definitely pull their punches there and have really straight-forward plots. DC, you once had Superman sing a note to stop an evil math problem, you can get weirder than an evil witch tries to rule/destroy the world or whatever.
Holy crap is the music terrible too. Actually, the music is great; there’s not a noticeably-bad song featured in the film. Clearly this is where a huge Guardians of the Galaxy influence came in like a wrecking ball; Fortunate Son, Sympathy for the Devil, Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap, fucking Spirit in the Sky – a song actually featured in Guardians! All the song choices are obvious, and used obviously. Remember when Tarantino would throw in a ringer song that you could never see coming? Also the soundtrack just keeps booping along obnoxiously, the first half of the movie seemed to be end-to-end songs – this half is also where I think Trailer Park had its strongest influence. Once things transition to the endgame, the mixtape music stops, and we get a pathetic limped-dick attempt at a Score for the rest of the film. One last note on the soundtrack that needs serious mention. Remember Bohemian Rhapsody? They freaking sold the movie to us on that song. Is it in the movie? Yes. Is it that bland and unnecessary cover by Panic! At The Disco (which is on the soundtrack)? Actually no. They use the legitimate version of Bohemian Rhapsody BUT it had to be no more than a minute of it. They don’t even reprise it during the credits. How do you do this? Gabe Hilfer and Season Kent were the credited Music Supervisors (typically the guys who suggest the soundtrack songs to the director and editors). Gabe, Season, what happened?
One final thing, because I feel an ulcer coming from all this bile (J/K it’s from all the Crystal Pepsi I’ve been binging) – I hate that they used some jaggedy font for the subtitles, just use a standard font please.
TL;DR – The movie sucks. I’m not just being mean because I love Marvel (because I don’t). Sincerely worried about Wonder Woman. Please don't kill yourself, Ben Affleck, you still do good work. Karen Fukuhara, I said something nice about your performance – my phone number is (***) ***-****.
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Director: David Ayer
Writers: David Ayer
Run Time: 123 minutes