Director: David Ayer
Writer: David Ayer
Stars: Will Smith, Jared Leto, Margot Robbie, Viola Davis, Joel Kinnaman, Cara Delevingne
Review by Mike DeAngelo:
Let’s just say it right off the top, Suicide Squad is not a good movie – this is coming from a fan of both Man of Steel and Batman V. Superman (especially the Ultimate Edition). I say that because I want to make it clear that I’m not some Marvel fanboy knocking DC because it’s DC. I’m a huge fan of both companies – comics, TV, movies, or anything else. Regardless, a bad movie is a bad movie, and Suicide Squad cannot be saved by its big budget or A-list cast.
The blame for this mess should fall squarely on David Ayer’s shoulders, as he both wrote and directed the film into the ground. The sad thing is that I’m a big fan of Ayer, and know that he is capable of writing and directing a great movie; however, he’s also very capable of the opposite. For every solid movie he writes and/or directs, i.e. - Fury, End of Watch, and Training Day, he also makes a good amount of duds. i.e. - Harsh Times, S.W.A.T., or Sabotage. Suicide Squad may fall at the very bottom of the pile – not because it’s necessarily the worst movie he’s made, but because it’s so ridiculously lazy or sloppy at nearly every turn. I can’t completely tell if it’s because of studio pressure following the critical trouncing of Batman V. Superman, or if it’s truly entirely his fault. In the end it doesn’t matter, as Ayer’s said in multiple interviews over the past week that this is his cut.
Let’s start with the good. First off, the money is on the screen - whether it be visual effects or sets. Warner Bros. clearly are pumping money into their DC franchise on the production and post-production end. Still, they should have spent more money on a rewrite, as the script is a mess. More on that later.
Secondly, the main cast, for the most part, performs admirably. Will Smith, Margot Robbie, Viola Davis and Jared Leto keep the movie from falling completely flat – even in the face of awkward writing and editing. Will Smith and Margot take the bulk of the heavy lifting, as their backstories dominate most of the flashback or character development scenes. Being the consummate professionals that they are, Will and Margot manage to bring nuance to their characters despite there being very little on the page beyond the cliché.
Next, Viola Davis absolutely nails her character Amanda Waller. If any character in this movie is believable and scary, it’s hers. Speaking of scary, Jared Leto’s Joker is bound to divide people with the cartoonish nature and off-the-wall choices Jared makes in every scene. Yet, love him or hate him, his scenes are still by far the most lively in the film – even though he’s an extremely secondary character.
The other secondary characters don’t fare so well. Outside of an admirable performance by Jay Hernandez as Diablo, most others receive very little to do beyond cliché or expositional moments. Which is upsetting, as Jai Courtney seems to have finally found a character that works for him in Boomerang. He could have been an immense source of heart and humor, but is wasted on a few one-liners and lame action. That’s one of my biggest issues with the film is that it sacrifices more character development for more characters. Many of these characters simply aren’t necessary or possible to serve within two hours.
Now, onto the bad. As previously mentioned, the script is in serious need of a clean-up due to structural issues and poor dialogue/character development. Structurally, the movie spends 20-30 minutes of the movie setting up a few characters, then skips a second act in favor of jumping right into their big mission for the rest of the movie – it’s almost all third act. Which, if done right, may be refreshing; however, in Suicide Squad, it just feels like we missed a huge chunk of the film to get straight into the action – action that also disappoints. Say what you will about Zack Snyder, the man knows how to make good looking action. Ayer really struggles to do anything beyond copying what’s come before. Harley Quinn and Deadshot get their big moments, but the rest is pretty boring or downright dumb.
Another huge issue with this movie is its villain, the Enchantress, played by Cara Delevingne. Everything about her character falls flat: the performance, the love story, the magic, her henchman brother, the act that inevitably defeats her – everything. She’s one of the worst choices DC/WB has made in their films, including all of 2011’s Green Lantern. Joel Kinnaman tries to redeem what he can as her love interest, but just isn’t able to get there with the scenes he’s given. If a movie is only as strong as its villain, then Suicide Squad is the weakest of the weak.
Yet, despite its ineptitude, Suicide Squad still made me excited for the upcoming Justice League movie with the brief (and I mean brief) cameos by a couple of DC’s most famous super team. Ben Affleck does what he can to make his brooding Batman pop. Yet, for me, the most excitement came from the mini-cameo from (SPOILERS AHEAD) Ezra Miller’s The Flash, my favorite superhero since childhood. Much like his scenes in Batman V. Superman, even the most minor amount of screen time makes me yearn for more big-screen Flash moments. I know it doesn’t have that energy for most people, but I’ve been waiting for this for quite some time and the teases are only making me more excited for what’s to come.
All in all, Suicide Squad is, at best, a mixed bag that’s nearly drowned by its editing, writing, awful villain, and need to service too many characters. Yet, at the same time, I want it to do well. I want more movies in the DC Universe, and judging by the opening weekend grosses, we’re in no danger of things moving full steam ahead…hopefully, to better, more competent movies.
OVERALL SCORE: 5/10 Decent, But Underdeveloped Characters