SUICIDE SQUAD Written and Directed by David Ayer; Starring Will Smith, Margot Robbie, Viola Davis, Joel Kinnaman, Cara Delevingne, Jai Courtney, Jay Hernandez, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, Common, Karen Fukuhara, David Harbour, and Jared Leto; Running time 123 min; Rated PG-13 for “sequences of violence and action throughout, disturbing behavior, suggestive content and language;” In wide release August 5, 2016.
Some threats are so big you need to put a team of expendable villains together to tackle them. DC’s “Suicide Squad” attempts to do this, under the helm of writer/director David Ayer. And some movies are so big you need to put together a team of robots to review it. Brace yourselves.
Andy: My apologies to the DC Multiverse, but this movie felt like Margot Robbie, Will Smith, and Viola Davis made a really good “Suicide Squad” movie in another universe and were visiting this other bleak, boring movie. While not as bad as last summer’s dud “Fantastic Four,” this has too many problems and tonal shifts and is mostly just incomprehensible. That is, when it’s not being boring and engaging in ham-fisted exposition.
Adam: Warner Bros. should really be the ones apologizing to the DC Multiverse, as it’s their fault that we got the mess that is “Suicide Squad.” I was really rooting for this movie. I’m not completely familiar with the comic, but what I have read, I’ve thoroughly enjoyed, and the characters that make up this motley crew are quite fun and entertaining despite being the bad guys. My biggest complaint coming out was that it felt like the studio tried to cram too much in and that they were working with multiple scripts. Seems I was right. Warner Bros. was too afraid to release another “dark” movie after the reactions to “Batman v Superman” so they decided to “funny it up” with reshoots and what not. The end result is a Frankenstein’s monster of a film that only leaves one wondering what could have been had they left Ayer alone. Sure, he isn’t known for being a prolific director, but he did a decent job with “Fury” and proved he is a talented screenwriter with “Training Day.” So the suits took his idea and melded it to match their own, and the final result is just downright awful.
Andy: This is just a Frankenmovie of epic proportions.This reminds me a lot of the problems they had when adapting Superman with Richard Donner. The studio and Donner butted heads so much he was booted from the film and Richard Lester was tasked with finishing “Superman II.” What you ended up with were these slapstick elements crammed into what was otherwise a fairly serious movie. Superman II, in some ways my favorite Superman movie, has major problems because of the tonal shifts and the extra content rammed into the narrative.
Adam: Not the worst of the year by any means, but definitely encroaching on that list.
I will give major credit to Margot Robbie, Will Smith and Viola Davis who own every scene they are in and carry the weight of the film as Harley Quinn, Deadshot and Amanda Waller, respectively. If not for them there wouldn’t be a single reason to go see it. All fully flesh out their characters and bring them to life from the comic page to the screen. Aside from that, there’s not much else. The rest of the squad barely get any backstory or exposition, so it’s hard to care about them or their plight because, well, we really don’t know who they are. I’m sure DC fanboys will be screaming about that line, but they have to keep in mind that in order for these kinds of films to be successful, they have to appeal to the mass market. I know who Killer Croc is, but does John Q. Everyman taking his family to the theater? No, and “Suicide Squad” does little to explain him or anyone else.
Andy: I’m still mad about Enchantress. That’s a character who can be really cool, and she was just inexplicable here. I actually think this is where DC fanboys should be first in line to be mad about how these characters were treated. Rather than bitch about “Rotten Tomatoes,” they should blame the people in charge of making these less than awesome movies.
Adam: Yeah, what was up with her? She could have been a truly terrifying and malevolent villain. Instead, she just stands around belly dancing while summoning yet another huge portal in the sky. She gets a few minutes at the end to let loose and show off, but even then her power isn’t fully used. It’s also annoying that she so easily disarms everyone with a snap of her fingers after five minutes of battle. Ummm … she had that power from the get go. Why not just use it then?
Oh, and lest we forget, Jared Leto’s much ballyhooed portrayal of the Joker. I was one of the apologists who stood up for the new take when they released stills awhile back and said everyone should just wait and see how he plays out in the final product. Well, we know now, and it’s just horrible. Leto is obviously trying to channel some of Ledger’s performance, but the additions he created for the character are tiresome and more annoying than menacing. The Joker has gone through many versions over the years, and this one will be one that will hopefully be forgotten the fastest. Gnawing on tinfoil would give greater pleasure than watching him trill and beguile through his grills.
Andy: Leto was the single worst part of this movie. It’s like he took the worst parts of Caesar Romero and Jack Nicholson (instead of the really good things those two did) and then sent them to a Juggalo daycamp. Again, DC fanboys should be pissed.
Adam: It also unloads so much exposition on the audience for the first 30 minutes that it almost becomes too hard to follow before pulling back and spending too much time on frivolities that exist to merely pad out the already too-long film. While they cut and rearranged a lot, it’s still painfully obvious they could have used just one, talented editor to excise a lot of filler that just wasn’t necessary -- especially the extended slow-mo scenes in the last act.
Andy: The slo mo was the worst. Ok, maybe it’s tied with the hamfisted exposition, but they’re close. The single worst, most cliched, most boring way to introduce your characters? Set up a mission briefing and give each of their backstories. I just expect better of Ayer.
Adam: And I don’t mind some good slo-mo when used to great effect, but it was just thrown in so lazily here. When it comes down to it, the biggest issue here is that it’s just completely boring after the first act, and that’s an unforgivable crime in this genre. Sure, give us a slow burn or build to a climactic reveal, but don’t fizzle out 45 minutes in and then try to ramp it up at the very end. Everyone will have lost interest by then and will spend more time looking at their watches than at the screen.
Andy: I know I did. The biggest problems is, this could have been great. Each character had a moment of brilliance. But, as one of the guards explains about one of the squad, “This is twelve pounds of shit in a ten pound bag.” They tried to cram in too much: too many characters, an inexplicable plot, and cover it up with pretty special effects and action that just don’t quite deliver. I didn’t hate this as much as some, but I don’t love it, either. I give the “Earth 1” movie Robbie, Smith and Davis were visiting from an 8/10, but this is a mediocre 5 out of 10.
Adam: Anyone who wants to enjoy a good “Suicide Squad” movie should check out “Batman: Assault on Arkham” that was put out by DC Animation a few years ago which was actually interesting and entertaining. This version is a pale example of what could have been and will merely leave DC fans wondering when they’re finally going to get the big screen treatment they deserve post Christopher Nolan. 3 out of 10