I think it’s pretty fair to say that superhero movies are the most popular films of today. So with any popular topic, the subversion of said topic is also going to be popular. A few years back, after the widely known success of the first Marvel-hero team-up film, studios said, “Hey, what if we made hero team-up movies, BUT (!!) it was villains instead!?!” Thus Sony sprouted the idea of a Sinister Six film, and Warner Bros. decided to add a Suicide Squad adaptation to their universe’s line-up. But only one remained: the one I’m reviewing today.
As trailers were released, hype for this movie began to build. They promised to have big and bold moments of fun where bad guys kicked ass to Queen, and boy, Suicide Squad definitely delivers in that category, yet it over-delivers. Every two minutes, director David Ayer and co. scatter to their vinyl collections to see what funky beats of yester-year they can host as a backdrop to the juxtaposition of DC’s newest (anti?) heroes beating up some of the most Boring. Villains. Ever. Seriously. Just in case you still are unsure of witch villain is actually the antagonist of this film, no need to worry, because they only sit behind a light-blue beam shooting into the sky, as they create hundreds of droning (and disturbingly boringly molded) henchmen.
Suicide Squad was marketing itself as the “Worst. Heroes. Ever.” It was promising to flip around the typical superhero film, to show us what it’s like from the point of view of the bad guys, but why when we see it from their point of view do we only see them doing good? Simply, the story of Suicide Squad is almost exactly the same as the story of The Avengers. It even has the ‘Coulson’s baseball cards’ moment; it’s pretty uncanny. The only real difference here is that the world of Squad is always raining, because grief, you know? Plus Avengers is just a whole lot shinier. For a film built around the concept of showing us a new side of the superhero spectrum, Suicide Squad‘s plot may be one of the flattest, most out-right boring, droning, aspects of the summer movie season, with some of the least creative ways of setting up characters.
Back in 2014, filmmaker David Ayer crafted two wildly messy films about multiple toxic personalities being blended together into a team. They were both rather interesting conversations on the concept of the “team.” Seeing those films, Sabotage and Fury (although the later kind of fell apart in its finale), made me have a whole lot more faith in him directing a Squad film. But here, it seems, it’s almost as if this scribe/director has lost his grasp on the concept of a scene, versus a moment. He only molds singular moments. You can talk about how cool that moment is when the Joker says that funny line and then does something *hilariously* violent, or that moment when Harley Quinn obnoxiously bends over and says something ‘clever,’ but I dare you to pick a truly, well-thought out, constructed scene from this film. You can’t. This piece only decides to bounce from unearned musical cue to unearned musical cue, with the complete lack of the ambition to thematically build to a breaking point when these moments actually bleed together into scenes, and then eventually, into something called a “film.” Squad is, by definition, a “trailer movie.” ‘What is that’ you ask me? It’s a piece of cinema built by moments where un-linked, unearned, “cool” things happen with zero thematic relevance.
At least at seems that for the most part the problem is with the game, not the players. Leading the pack are Will Smith and Margot Robbie, and the two continue the wonderful chemistry they had in (also) Warner Bros. Focus. The Wolf of Wall Street star really has a lot of fun in an extremely faithful performance that thankfully isn’t as hyper-sexualized as the trailers led on, although the think-pieces about her relationship with another character in this film are going to be coming in droves. Smith is super charasmatic as always, even though he’s basically playing the same character he did in Hancock, except he can’t fly and now enjoys shooting people. He really does a lot more for this film than I was expecting, and brings a whole lot of levity to the film. Viola Davis is fantastic as always as Amanda Waller, and co-stars Jai Courtney, Cara Delevine, and Ike Barinholtz are also a lot of fun. But the main one you want to know about is Leto, right? Well truth be told, he lives up to the forehead tattoo! He’s about as subtle as wood-chipper and talks like he’s in a Neil Breen movie.
To conclude, Suicide Squad has a lot of really fun characters. It just sucks that this is has nowhere near the cohesiveness that director David Ayer intended. It’s a wildly unambitious piece of cinema that has some of the most unearned musical cues I’ve seen in quite some time. Yes, this is a truly messy film, but not in the way that Batman V Superman was. BvS was a beautiful disaster that had so much interesting biblical subtext and a rather thoughtful, politically charged conversation that offered some nice insight into post-9/11 trauma. And it still got to end in a WWE super slam match! Except Suicide Squad is really only interested in the latter. And Queen.