Suicide Squad — Commit Sudoku [Review]
Suicide Squad Review | Avoiderdragon

Film Info:

  • Genre: Superhero / Action
  • Director: David Ayer
  • Distributor: Warner Bros. Pictures
  • Starring: Will Smith, Jared Leto, Margot Robbie, Joel Kinnaman, Viola Davis, Jai Courtney, Jay Hernandez, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, Ike Barinholtz, Scott Eastwood, Cara Delevingne
  • Running Time: 123 mins.
  • Release Date: August 5, 2016

Continuing the DC streak (because I failed to review Captain America: Civil War), Suicide Squad seems to have as divisive as the new Ghostbusters, or maybe more as critics have been panning it. Perhaps they still have Batman v Superman in their minds and Marvel to compare cinematic successes with. Suicide Squad does deserve a fair viewing befitting its hype, which isn’t as much of an oxymoron as some of you would like to think.

It’s indeed odd to see a movie on Suicide Squad coming out right now since Warner Bros. hasn’t even begun to scratch the surface of the current DC Extended Universe. Then again, its image has already been scratched and clawed quite a bit by the critical panning of Man of Steel and Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice.

Those two movies barely have any levity to them that could balance out all the seriousness. They took themselves way too seriously, beyond what the quality of their plots actually deserved. If they’re going to jam so many subplots and convolutions into two to three hours, they could at least put more lighter moments in between to make the pill easier to swallow.

While those two movie did have some bright spots, watching them was like drowning in a sea of dull blue and gray for the most part. (I could’ve sworn my dreams started to have a Snyder filter on them.) Responding to the criticisms, Suicide Squad is basically their attempt at the complete opposite. However, maybe they’ve actually listened a bit too much to the criticism this time around.

NOTE: As this is intended as a full review of this title, there may be some spoilers. You’ve been warned.

Also, it’s worth noting that I went through two separate recording sessions for a review video. Unfortunately, the first one was cut off due to my own carelessness, while the second one was lost due to my projects drive giving up the ghost while I was transferring the video files into it. (Always copy-paste, never cut-paste.) Lessons learned.

Finally, I have not read the comic book, so I only have wikis and the film to go by in talking about most of the characters.

Story

The first two-thirds of the movie was fun, but the last third was dull and eyebrow-raising. For the supposed debut of the Suicide Squad, they fight demigods bringing forth an apocalypse. It’s standard comic book fare, but there was no tune up, no trial period, nothing. Describing this in pro wrestling terms—they looked fairly weak as they didn’t really do enough to “sell it.”

With no build-up, the Suicide Squad only have the strength of the individual characters to work with to sell themselves as a team. The point of the Suicide Squad is indeed to send them into situations where death is certain. But in this film, they didn’t look like a team that can take on ancient Mesoamerican gods with apocalyptic powers.

Meanwhile, The Avengers did better in selling itself as a team, even showcasing team moves in later movies. Meanwhile, this had characters most people barely know of (except for Harley Quinn) come together and become “family” in less than two hours. I don’t know how long they’ve known each other in real time, but that’s still fairly short and the story barely had anything to show how that happened.

Also, when demigods can be taken out with C4, then metahumans aren’t really necessary. Just bring in the tanks.

Maybe they were indeed the most convenient option with Superman six feet under. But where’s Wonder Woman then? Since she’s a daughter of Zeus, she could’ve dealt with gods.

The only ones in the team with the power to put up against ancient deities here are Katana and El Diablo. Perhaps they could’ve done something with that soul-siphoning sword there, maybe suck up Incubus and use that to defeat Enchantress. But apparently, the best way to beat Mayan gods is with C4.

You have citizens turned into pimply zombie things and there’s a giant energy vortex in the middle of the city. For once, in fictional scenarios like this, the government didn’t think of bombing the place. I guess those general do care about collateral damage for once, but maybe they could’ve actually bombed it. If a detcharge can kill those gods, maybe a bunker buster could’ve done the job.

Batman v Superman didn’t really need three whole hours, but maybe Suicide Squad did.

Characters/Casting

Something like Justice League wouldn’t need as much introduction and exposition since most know of Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Flash, and Aquaman since they’re iconic characters. Suicide Squad as a team, as well as most of the characters, are new to most people, so they needed to be properly introduced. The cast did amazingly well in their performances, but they were then failed by the direction and executive meddling.

Making June Moone an archeologist and Enchantress as some sort of a Mayan death goddess was pretty neat, with her speaking Nahuatl and everything. Her being unwillingly possessed and in love with Rick Flag provided some good conflict. However, Enchantress herself is a bland big baddie whose only bright spot is that weird sexy dance.

Amanda Waller is perhaps the biggest winner in this movie as she is spot on. A big part of her character is that the power that leverage allows her can get into her head. So of course she’d think she can control an ancient demi-goddess—even if she’s aware of what she’s capable of—just because she has an artifact to control her.

Amanda Waller and Paul Bearer: Both controlled big baddies with artifacts.

Mandy’s gimmick seemed rather familiar.

What’s with the leaving of the briefcase with the McGuffin right there while you sleep? You’d think Ms. Waller would remember that Enchantress can teleport to wherever she pleases. While the briefcase did have a security measure, Enchantress goes into another room and there’s her brother’s idol. Waller could’ve put it in a briefcase or safe with a similar security measure.

You’d think a badass like Amanda Waller would be good with contingencies. Well, anyone can get careless.

Deadshot in this movie is basically Will Smith being Will Smith. I guess that’s what they wanted for this. I have no complaints about his performance, even if this isn’t exactly comic book Deadshot (because I can’t say “textbook Deadshot”). I agree with what a Facebook friend said about this Deadshot—it’s way better than Colin Farrell’s Bullseye.

Harley Quinn is also spot on, and she’s somehow the team’s twisted voice of reason. She makes the movie; otherwise, it’d just be ten times duller. Meanwhile, this Rick Flag is mostly alright; the actor gets to touch butts with Cara Delevingne.

Captain Boomerang is cool because he likes pink unicorns. It’s odd that there wasn’t more pink unicorn later in the movie. No dream sequence of him finding a pink unicorn utopia; they skipped ahead to Diablo’s dream, which looks like an editing situation.

This Killer Croc isn’t as menacing (Batman: Arkham Asylum spoiled that for me), but his attitude and swimming ability are pretty cool too. Other than that, not much else about him other than he does act much like a reptilian carnivore, but he could be more threatening by telling people he’d eat their bones.

El Diablo is the Suicide Squad‘s AP carry. He’s a cholo who went Gandhi to repent for past sins, which were nigh irredeemable as told in the bar scene. Harley tells him to “own that shit,” and perhaps he did. Of course, he dies in the end, but not before popping his ultimate and turning into an Aztec fire god.

Huitzilopochtli, the Aztec Hummingbird God of War

Judging by the headdress, El Diablo’s ultimate form may have been inspired by Huitzilopochtli, the Aztec god of war.

The character I have the most problem with is Katana. She’s not a main character, but she also could’ve not been there in the first place. Her scenes feel like they were jammed in there just because she was in the comics. All she does here is be grumpy, get hit on a bit by Boomerang, and speak in Japanese while seemingly being able to understand English.

The whole sword sucking up souls thing and her talking to her dead husband’s soul in it before battle doesn’t really get explored further. It’s a violation of Chekhov’s Gun—if a powerful weapon doesn’t get used, it shouldn’t be there in the first place. Maybe don’t mention it then and just have Katana be the team’s AD carry, and that’s it. Then again, the soul-sucking thing is supposedly her schtick, so it just had to be mentioned for the sake of accuracy.

Definitely looks like an editing situation.

Who among them are metahuman enough to fight against demigods? Harley Quinn is just full of crazy and surprisingly resilient, but can she really baseball bat a god? Deadshot has that aimbot ability, but I don’t know if that’s any good when gods are supposedly bulletproof.

Perhaps this is where the whole C4 thing can be explained. Guns and melee weapons don’t have the necessary amount of kinetic energy, but maybe a detcharge did have enough power to take out Incubus. Then again, I still don’t buy it.

All Captain Boomerang did was get Slipknot killed and constantly hit on Katana. By the way, we could’ve at least seen a reaction from Katana. He helps out a bit during fights, but is he really a metahuman? Also, unless Killer Croc can actually channel the power of the Egyptian crocodile god Sobek, I don’t know if he’s actually god-killing material.

Finally, the elephant in the room. Joker seemed just as out of place. I actually liked his gangster getup as it gives him more of that Clown Prince of Crime vibe. Then it turns out that a whole slew of Joker scenes were missing from the final cut, which hits home how this film was an editing botch job. Maybe Jared Leto pissed off the production with his gifting of dead rats and used condoms.

That strip club scene was pretty cool though. The Joker-Harley dynamic in this movie is that of a couple still in love. It hasn’t gotten to the abusive phase yet, so I can totally understand why this one was a bit… weird for those in the know. (Thus, Joker-Harley isn’t relationship goals.)

All Joker performances on film will always be overshadowed by Heath Ledger’s Joker; that’s now the gold standard (Yes, even more than Phil Jackson). Too bad the direction didn’t give Jared Leto good enough of a fighting chance.

Direction

The editing was a botch job indeed; some action sequences even had very bad cuts. The movie looked rushed out the door in post-production, most likely due to mismanagement and excessive meddling by Warner Bros.

The fight scenes constantly reminded of MOBAs and tactical role-playing games like Baldur’s Gate or Freedom Force. It also rings true with the rest of the film; this looks more like a video game script. The character introductions looked like the intro in the Borderlands games. There was also a bit of a heist film vibe, which could’ve been used more extensively.

When Rick Flag was threatening to crush Enchantress’ heart and she told him he didn’t have the balls, foreshadowing dictated that he has to since he promised June he’d kill her if necessary. I then thought, “If June lives, I’m done.” She did, so I completely checked out. Perhaps it’s not the most grievous of cop-outs, but the last third of the movie had been quite a cheeseball and it had me groaning internally.

It has quite a few similarities with Guardians of the Galaxy. That movie also had a gang of hoodlums going up against a god of sorts. Both have adapted soundtracks. Both had strong performances by the cast. I’m not definitively saying that Suicide Squad is DC’s Guardians of the Galaxy, but it’s hard not to when that movie was so memorable—to me, at least.

Character development was handled way better and there was more focus. It didn’t have as many flashbacks for exposition, yet worked much better than Suicide Squad did. I came out of theater without any need to pick that movie apart. I quite like it, so much that I could’ve given it a 9/10 because I thought it had good writing with little to no fat in it.

David Ayer is not bad at what he does. Watch Fury, which was pretty much World of Tanks: The Movie.

Final Score

Suicide Squad
4 out of 10
Pros
  • Cool visual design
  • Mostly apt soundtrack
  • Good casting
  • Spot-on Amanda Waller
  • Pretty good Harley Quinn
  • Interesting take on El Diablo
  • Entertaining Captain Boomerang
  • Gangster Joker
  • Margot Robbie and Cara Delavingne
Cons
  • Bad plot for team debut
  • Bad editing (Looks rushed)
  • Last third is a cheese ball
  • Ending isn't that strong
  • Half-assed with heist film vibe
  • Katana is ineffectual
  • Not enough Joker
  • Not enough pink unicorns
Summary

I wanted to like this movie at first. It's a story about a bunch of interesting individuals with less-than-amiable outlooks in life forcibly put together to do the government's dirty work. That premise had so many things going for it, but it didn't work well in this case as while there were so many ingredients, they didn't go together very well.

Yes, the cast did save this movie, but that's like saying, "The sauce is good, even though the noodles were overcooked." In the end, that's still a below average plate of spaghetti.

If news and rumors are to be believed, Warner Bros. apparently had a lot of things changed in the middle of production in response to criticism against Batman v Superman. This is unfortunate since you can't just let outside influences affect a process, especially when it's right in the middle of it. When I heard they had to reshoot scenes, I already knew something wrong was about to happen. I guess it was one of those rare times when my hunch was somewhat right.

Personally, I actually found Batman v Superman a bit more enjoyable, which does indeed sounds like heresy. But when I left the movie theater after watching BvS, there were two things in mind—how the movie was full of holes, and wanting to watch the scenes with Wonder Woman again. The original score killed it in those scenes. At least there's consolation.

The only scenes I want to rewatch in Suicide Squad are Diablo turning into a fire avatar and Enchantress doing that weird dance.

Mind you, I did have fun with this movie. I don't regret the money I spent to watch it, and I'm indeed capable of taking my amateur hour pretentious film critic cap off to enjoy an experience. But I just can't give Suicide Squad a pass in this review because while it does have levity, it still takes itself seriously, so its plot must be treated as such.

For more information on the website’s standardized review system, you may read about it [here].