“Suicide Squad” is the expectational follow-up to a film like “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice.” Despite what the shockingly superb, pseudo-musical-like, promotional trailers would have you believe, writer/director David Ayers’ (“Training Day” & “End of Watch”) “Suicide Squad” is the next chapter in this rotten universe of DC comics' adaptation that suffers from the same cons of the previous entree. Along with some additional flaws, “Suicide Squad” is a “swirling ring of trash” of a movie, as the film’s main character, Deadshot (Will Smith), so poetically and ironically illustrated.
While he’s not the expected leader of the show, he is the leader of the group, one that unpurposefully echoes the frustrations of the viewer at times. Speaking on the ridiculousness of a character like Amanda Waller (Viola Davis) being the good guy in this world, or the stupidity of these gang of misfits being utilized in a battle against a sorceress. Yes, this movie loses itself in the midst of montages and the soundtrack heavy short films to introduce us to our villain-turned do-gooder characters.
The films attempts to mimic the delighted fun quality of better movies like “Deadpool” and “Guardians of the Galaxy,” replicating a nostalgic driven soundtrack that is meant to evoke some kind of fair love, or blinded appreciation for a film that is meant to do nothing more than replicate the underhanded affections of past films. Before I get too heavy-handed with my criticism’s for this movie though, understand that “Suicide Squad” is not in the top ten rankings of worst superhero movies, at least it shouldn't be. When you sit through such 90’s ridiculousness as “Spawn” and “Captain America” starring Matt Salinger, you’ve seen the worst of the worst.
“Suicide Squad” doesn’t dip in quality nearly that far, but for a modern day anti-hero blockbuster, it's far off the beaten path of something as unequivocally entertaining as “Deadpool.” It’s the kind of movie that never establishes what it's about. Transfixing itself upon the motif of the villain turned hero, never erecting a narrative that connects point A to point B.
It bases itself off of the New 52 members of the “Suicide Squad,” a group of murders, bank robbers, hitman, and psychopaths who are recruited by Amanda Waller (Viola Davis) to create a unofficial task force for the United States Government, one that is meant to serve the purposes of hunting down rogue bounty hunters and cleaning up messes left behind by a corrupt government. They are the unrecognized maids of the government that can become the characters of blame if need be, the perfect scapegoat or patsy for a government trying to match up with meta-humans.
Ayers sees it differently though, bringing this team together through a series of colorful, roughly edited, and inconsequential sequences of montages, each of them given their unique background music. This group of rule-breakers is brought together to be the last resort in case another “Superman” emerges, one that wants to rule over humanity instead of saving it. This criminal squad consists of: the hitman-marksman known as Deadshot (Will Smith), the crazy-girl in Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie), the monster known as Killer Croc (Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje), the living inferno El Diablo (Jay Hernandez), a haunted sword wielder Katana (Karen Fukuhara), the idiotic Captain Boomerang (Jai Courtney), the useless Slipknot (Adam Beach), and the overly-powerful Enchantress (Cara Delevingne). You can also find their soldier-for-hire leader in Rick Flag (Joel Kinnaman), and the anarchist turned mobster Mister J (Jared Leto) amongst the foreground of the film.
With this array of characters, and talent, somehow David Ayers seems to confuse storytelling with music video production. Providing a narrative that doesn’t match the level of ability presented in this illustrious group of mediocrity, and forgets the pathos of the characters, a significant defect that seems to have carried over from Snyder’s mistreatment. Confusing a father-hood mentored character like Deadshot (Will Smith) with someone whose soul has been changed by bringing a child into the world, or hindering a breakout performance from Margot Robbie by mishandling the character of Harley Quinn. Confusing a weaponizing of sexuality for an excuse to slut-up a character, not to mention the blatant misuse of a tortured soul dynamic with her and the Joker (Jared Leto), whose mobster mentality seemingly lacks the same intention for chaos previously seen in Ledger’s depiction.
Though neither adaptation of the character is comically accurate per say, Leto’s rendition of the clown prince of crime feels like a cruel mistreatment in which he sees the Joker as a gangster, which is technically accurate. What separates the Joker from that simplified label is the sheer lunacy of his mind, desiring nothing more than to torture the world around him because it's funny, an inherently fascinating character trait that is seemingly buried beneath the tattoos of this misshapen reinvention of one of DC’s most prominent foes. This is where lines in the sand get drawn, and disliking mutates into hatred.
The film isn’t all bad though, allowing for some fan serviceable imagery to seep through it's blinded gaze, vignettes of a jester dressed Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie) and tuxedo-wearing Joker (Jared Leto) dancing away in the spotlight, or the car chase between the Batmobile and the Joker (Jared Leto) in the streets of Gotham City. You can also find a flash cameo, a Bruce Wayne after credits special, and a multitude of easter eggs that make for some moments where the comic book kid inside me cried with passion as if his wildest of dreams had finally breached into fruition.
Those images would be stripped away like tape ripping off hairs, tenderly ringing with pain as the direction, screenwriting, and performances of this film feel inherently processed. Will Smith portrayal of the hitman for hire feels intrinsically charismatic, the man can’t help but let that shine seep through, but it's unfitting of the stoic character. Margot has something special lurking beneath her performance of the infamous puddin’ lover, but she becomes handcuffed by a screenplay that seems to misidentify both her character and her relationship with the Joker, something that should’ve been the primary focus of the film’s story.
A few moments worth a giggle and predictable dramatical hefts later, the ensemble surrounding them becomes blatantly forgettable. Two performances become the main squeeze of the film, both of whom are simultaneously crippled by a misinformed screenplay.
This film is not only torturous from a comics’ fan perspective though, it can become a tough sit through as a film fan as well, one that features the cliche ring in the sky, cinematography that is grimmest in shadow, and a befuddling narrative that limps its way through predictable plot reveals and an expectational blockbuster checklist.
It’s the kind of a movie that feels like I’m swallowing a double-edged sword, one that slices deep on both sides. Its box office success is something I can come to terms with, but the damage done cannot be reversed. It’s the kind of pain you feel from watching your dreams die, one that involves a cheap rip-off of a comic book storyline that if placed in the right hands, could’ve been one of 2016’s best. What we’re left with is a dumpster fire of a movie, one that betrays it's base of fandom with cheapified service, luckily there is always the next marvel-feature to look forward too.