DC and Warner Bro’s Suicide Squad is on track to become one of the most divisive films of the year, with many critics ripping its insides out and leaving no remains. But are the critics right?
I want to first point out that critics are there to give their opinion on the aspects of the film that work well, their word is not gospel. Even my critique is not law, take it or leave it, it is there to shed light on the film and help viewers gain perspective. It is not there to tell you that you are right or wrong. It is also interesting that critics have the power to destroy a film and prevent potential ticket buyers from seeing that film. However, in Suicide Squad’s case, this seems to be the opposite. Critics are important but word of mouth spread fasters than wildfire.
Suicide Squad is essentially a team made up of super villains who have all been imprisoned by The Batman. They are brought out of their imprisonment by perhaps the real villain of this film, Amanda Waller (Viola Davis). Her idea is to use them to fight evil, keeping them in cells is a waste of talent. As she states they are ‘the worst of the worst’ and now she controls them. Leading the squad is Rick Flag (Joel Kinnaman) who gets more screen time than anyone and in that time, he builds up an interesting relationship with Will Smith’s ‘Deadshot’. At times this film does feel like the ‘Will Smith Show’, however he adds a very nice layer of emotion and morality to the film.
Other characters include Captain Boomerang (Jai Courtney) a surprisingly funny character, El Diablo (Jay Hernandez) a man with more soul than any of them. Katana (Karen Fukuhara), a woman who literally steals souls. Killer Croc, who debuted in the Arkham Asylum games. It’s worth a note that I just didn’t like this character. He had very few lines and seemed quite pointless, I would have taken him out and given another character more screen time.
The main standout of this film is Harley Quinn played by Margot Robbie. She is fun, insane and very likeable. I actually thought I would dislike this character as she has been insanely overhyped, however she did not dissapoint and Robbie’s depiction is nothing short of genius. She fearlessly punches and spins her way through her enemies with all the finesse of a psychotic ballerina. There is an emotional depth to this character that we see hints of throughout the film, especially in a scene in which she envisions what she really desires which is maybe not what you would expect. She is hopelessly devoted to Mr J and I find her relationship with him to be more sad than anything, its far from romantic, her blind devotion for him is ultimately built on manipulation and not true love. In fact, I found these two so interesting that I was praying that the next scene had them in, which is why I was disappointed to see so little of The Joker (Jared Leto).
There is a lot of division in opinion in terms of Jared’s portrayal of the clown prince of crime. In this adaptation, we are presented with more of a gangster approach, all tattoos and gold grills. It is quite frustrating that Jared put so much time and effort into this role only for most of his scenes to be cut out, this is not only vexing for him but also for the fans that were excited for his version. However, I sincerely hope that he makes at least a guest appearance in Justice League, it would amazing to see him team up with Jesse Eisenberg’s ‘Lex Luthor’ and watch them bounce off of each other like quirky pinballs.
Back to the ‘plot’, the squad are fighting against The Enchantress (Cara Delevingne) a witch who sets about making a machine to destroy the world. The idea is very vague and very convoluted which leads to a swirling vortex in the sky towards the end of the film that is dosed with unnecessary CGI. I have always been a fan of Cara and those who say she cannot act do not have enough material to reference. She does not have many lines in this film and when she does, she is covered in CGI splendour which is ultimately not Cara’s fault.
While Rob Liefeld, creator of Deadpool took to twitter to voice his opinion of the below par CGI, I have to agree and disagree. The CGI is not terrible, except for the last 15 minutes which is just as bizarre as it is bad. But, in my personal opinion this film did not need much CGI. We have lots of characters with lots of backstory, the Enchantress’ global domination plans are only there so the villains can fight a villain… With this kind of movie, I wish it would have gone off the beaten track and brought about a different crisis for the villains to deal with. It might have been nice for the fans to pick what crisis they would like to see as we are already given lots of little comic book hints such as the setting of Midway City, home to Hawkgirl.
The main problem with this film is that there are too many characters to mention. It is overstuffed, and because many of the characters have not been depicted before we do not get to build up a relationship with these characters as much as we would have liked. Many of them seem like throwaway characters who do not hold any presence. The film either needed to be longer to flesh out the characters or it needed to take out characters and leave room for more growth. I understand how difficult it must be to debut lots of characters in one film and make it entertaining, but Avengers Assemble had a similar difficulty and they pulled it off.
This leads me to the final point I have to make about this picture, it is dark. Full stop. DC has always been a dark, realistic take on superheroes and villains. Marvel is for audiences who enjoy fun escapism and light hearted morals intertwined with action. Suicide Squad is gritty realism at its best, director David Ayer commented that he made this film ‘for real people living in the real world’ and he couldn’t be more true. Harley even remarks ‘what has the world ever done for us’, and she is right. Here lies the problem, people don’t want darkness, they want something that’s entertaining, something that they can escape with. They don’t want to be reminded of the real evils of this world. I love DC, throw the darkness at me, I’ll come back for more but I realise that this isn’t the case for a lot of people.
Many critics commented that it felt like they were watching two different films and they’re actually not wrong. David Ayer’s final cut was extremely dark (so dark that they had to have an onset psychiatrist), so the studio decided to make the film more fun and entertaining, this was mainly due to the panic that Batman vs Superman was too dark for audiences. So ultimately we are given two films spliced together, which has caused confusion.
Overall, I think this film was entertaining and very dark. It was by no means as bad as critics are saying, and definitely not as bad as Fantastic Four or Green Lantern, but it had MANY problems. With a rumoured exclusion from China, a 26% score on Rotten Tomatoes; an estimated $145 million opening weekend and a rumoured $750 million gross to break even. Only time will tell if this summer hit is worth the hassle the cast and crew had to go through to make it.