I would imagine that pitching a movie with “suicide” in the title was very difficult to get the green light. I imagine it would begin with a promise: “Ladies, Gentlemen, the time is ripe for yet another superhero comic book genre movie. But this time we’re going to do things different. We’re going to make it edgy and dark but not Nolan dark and funny and endearing. We’re going to have this group of lovable misfits and we’re going to get the woman from How to Get Away with Murder. And we’re going to get Jared Leto to play the Joker. Perfect, right? Will Smith’s going to play someone cool. They’re all bad guys but we’re going to make the audience love them. We’re going to make a lot of money, I promise. But we need all these big names and we need a lot of budget but I swear we’re going to get it all back and then some. Because people love superhero comic book movies, right? The title? Oh it’s um, Suicide Squad. This is going to give Deadpool and Guardians of the Galaxy a run for its money. Trust me.”
Let’s begin with the redeemable qualities of the film. The bright, psychadelic, visuals are fun to watch to and fit well with the narrative. Some scenes are visually pleasing to look at; expect some scenes to become a Tumblr gif or a Facebook cover photo. The soundtrack is pleasing enough to be remembered. Panic! At the Disco’s rendition of Bohemian Rhapsody is pretty damn good. The budget to bring together Wiz Khalifa, Lil Wayne, and Imagine Dragons together in a room was well spent. The visuals and music set the tone for this nihilistic, no fucks given mood that permeates throughout the film.
[pull_quote]The DC universe has such cool villains, But the film chose not to run any risks with the direction they took. The premise deserved better.[/pull_quote]
The casting choices are a hit and miss. Will Smith is a perfect pick for Deadshot given the direction the film has taken. Smith as Deadshot is the same as Smith as Hancock in the sense that he’s impenetrable because of his plot armor. The same goes for Margot Robbie as Harley Quinn, who gets a significant chunk of screen time. Viola Davis as Amanda Waller is jarring and ruthless to the point of questioning. What made her this way? Why is she so mad? Who did her wrong? Jared Leto’s portrayal of The Joker is polarizing. Without the clever and well-calculated thoughts behind his actions, the Joker is left vapid and menacing. But Leto didn’t do a bad job. He did the best with what he had, and he had a very weak script to work with. Everyone had a very weak script to work with. The direction was choppy, choosing to pull our hearstrings when there are none, and choosing to leave us breathless when we have so much air to breathe (and even snore.)
The exposition at the beginning puts Waller pulling out a binder full of profiles and introduces the characters one by one via flashback, and the whole thing reads that way. Sympathy towards the characters is determined already by the film by asking, “who can possibly jump off on a sequel in the DC movie universe?” In a film called Suicide Squad, nobody was actually put into a position to commit suicide. The risks weren’t that high. The DC universe has such cool villains, But the film chose not to run any risks with the direction they took. The premise deserved better. The main protagonists of the film are rounded out of their edges by backstories that happen via flashback that jump in and out. All of the edge goes to Viola Davis as Amanda Waller with her gravitating acting that appears ruthless without reason save for a fear for “the next Superman” and “meta-humans.” Why is she so mad? Who did her wrong?
With a careless narrative and a lack of clear intentions, there’s little to none nuance to steer the film in any artistic direction that deserves merit that there would be little reason for this film to exist but to make money and stave off fans with a taste of the next DC movie with cameos (yeah, there are cameos.) The visuals could just as well be a mood board, and the few and far in between moments that could be deemed cool could just as well be read off Buzzfeed—”Our Favorite Moments From Suicide Squad.” Tape the ends of a comic book end to end like a cinema reel and put it through a projector, add music and visual effects, and you have Suicide Squad.
But you should still watch the movie. The film isn’t a snooze fest. I wouldn’t expect anyone to leave the theater midway. Margot Robbie, Will Smith, and Viola Davis earned their longer screen times. It doesn’t have the campy feel of a B movie, save for Joel Kinnaman’s acting at times. The film is flawed, and the cuts run deep, but it’s mostly because of a system that doesn’t takes risks, the system that values money over nuance. The film is no Deadpool, no Guardians of the Galaxy, but it is something. I could see why the movie would get love.
But I hope it isn’t because of the Harley Quinn and Joker romance. Sorry, Nadine Lustre, but Harley and Jokey are not goals. Let’s just make that clear. The Joker in love may be a pretty sight, but emotional abuse isn’t.
Photo from the Suicide Squad movie trailer.