John Allegretti ’18 / Emertainment Monthly Staff Writer
DC Comic’s new cinematic universe has been a rough ride. Man of Steel failed to get the character of Superman off the ground, and Zack Snyder’s Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice put DC in a very deep hole. But hope appeared in the form of Suicide Squad, a men on a mission film in the vein of Guardians of the Galaxy directed by David Ayer. The trailers teased us with the first live-action film appearance of Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie) and a new Joker played by Jared Leto. But in reality, these beacons of hope are all part of a multicolored mess of a film.
After Zack Snyder’s sociopathic Superman leveled Metropolis, the government has become rightly concerned about the danger superheroes pose. Intelligence operative Amanda Walker (Viola Davis) proposes a solution. Amanda reveals that she has assembled a team of criminal metahumans, people with extraordinary abilities that have sprung up in the wake of Superman. Walker convinces Uncle Sam to send this team of criminals to carry out missions that involve supernatural elements beyond our understanding. If the mission is a failure, the government will disavow the entire team of criminals, Mission: Impossible style.
Suicide Squad is directed by Ayer, a guy who has an amazing track record. In the early 2000’s he penned the scripts of amazing films like Training Day and U-571, and after making the switch to director has done films such as End of Watch and Fury. Even his worst film, Sabotage, was something he didn’t have much involvement in, only being brought on as a hired gun. So it’s a real disappointment to see Suicide Squad fail, especially when someone as talented as Ayer both wrote and directed the film.
Jared Leto’s Joker is billed as the main villain, while Cara Delevingne’s Enchantress plays a bigger role as the antagonist. Enchantress is an evil spirit who has taken possession of the innocent Dr. June Moone. All of Enchantress’s scenes are incredibly schlocky, and that really takes the audience out of a film that claims to be so gritty and realistic. Jared Leto’s Joker also may be the worst ever put to film. His performance seems to be like every other creepy teenager’s imitation of Ledger in the wake of The Dark Knight. Leto is a talented actor, and could easily have done something different with the character.
Suicide Squad’s main flaw is that it doesn’t know what to do with it’s two main villains. Leto’s Joker is an afterthought, while the less-interesting Enchantress takes center stage. Ayer making Joker the main antagonist could have streamlined the film while also offering some conflict within the character of Harley Quinn. DC films boast being realistic and gritty, but in actuality are some of the most ridiculous superhero movies ever. In the DC Universe all the men look like characters from the latest Call of Duty outing, and the women scantily clad strippers covered in grime.
Suicide Squad also has some of the most mind-boggling editing of the summer. The film opens with scenes introducing us to Deadshot and Harley Quinn, then after the credits re-introduces us to them a second time. The film has no sense of geography due to the incompetence of either the cinematographer or editor. There are very few wide shots in the movie which gives the audience no placement in the scenes. Every scene is done in medium insert shots, and that becomes really frustrating when you can’t see what goes on around the characters. This is something that could have easily been fixed in reshoots, but Ayer and crew choose to use that time to film some truly awkward jokes. Blame the actors or the director, but many of the jokes in the film don’t hit.
The film does have it’s strengths, though. Will Smith turns in one of his better performances in recent years as Deadshot. Margot Robbie nails Harley Quinn, even if the film mishandles her. Jai Courtney nearly steals the film as Captain Boomerang, a member of the squad who is always trying to escape the team. In a great scene, Courtney tricks another member into escaping so he can see if the explosive implants in their necks really work. Viola Davis also does a great job, but the film doesn’t give her much to do. All of the actors seem to be giving it their all, but their performances struggle to shine through a film that doesn’t really care about them.
Suicide Squad isn’t as bad as Batman v. Superman, but it’s more disappointing because it could have been a truly good film. I’m sure DC fans will denounce every bad review the film gets and go out in droves to see it, and that’s a tragedy. Warner Bros. is in a hole and nobody seems to know when to stop digging. It’s sad to see the studio put out bad superhero film after bad superhero film and do nothing about it. Instead of bashing critics, DC fans should demand Warner Bros. give them better films.
Overall Grade: D+
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