“Suicide Squad” Movie Review


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     I, like many others, have come to what should be considered a fair conclusion at this point.  The current vision and model being used to create the latest films in the DC Cinematic Universe is flawed and mostly ineffective.  Just three films in, it might be time to hand the reigns over to another more appropriate filmmaker and reboot the entire thing before it’s too late.  I say that because David Ayer’s highly anticipated “Suicide Squad” is abysmal in its best scenes and absolutely no fun when it’s playing at its worst.  Of course, after you realize Ayer, whose previous work includes the WWII drama “Fury” and the street cop drama “End of Watch”, is about as clear of a choice for this material as he would be to helm the next Lifetime original, you then see Zack Snyder’s name in the role of Executive Producer.  This after directing the underwhelming and completely overdone “Man of Steel” and this year’s biggest disappointment “Batman vs Superman: Dawn of Justice”.  The point is, neither of these guys, though supremely talented, are that round peg in a round hole to lead DC’s battle against the already established and universally superior Marvel Cinematic Universe.

     This is again reenforced with “Suicide Squad”, whose colorful ad campaign and all star cast only hide the fact we have yet another unwatchable dud on our hands.  I’ve always commented on the fact that remaking a DC property such as Batman and Superman comes with a number of built in obstacles because these characters are not only beloved, but also previously well established in film and television.  As an example, when you think of Superman even now, most will likely conjure up the image of Christopher Reeve, not Henry Cavill.  That presents a tremendous problem that the Marvel side never had to deal with.  Take “Ironman” for instance.  No one really cared about the character until 2008, when Robert Downey Jr. literally became Ironman/Tony Stark and from that point on the character was established in Downey Jr.’s image.  That’s not to say Marvel has had it easy, but being able to present a character for the first time on screen with no previous comparisons certainly has its advantages.

     For the most part, Ayers went into “Suicide Squad” with those same advantages, presenting for the first time on screen characters such as Deadshot (Will Smith), Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie), Boomerang (Jai Courtney), Killer Croc (Adewale Akinnouye-Agbaje), Katana (Karen Fukuhara), and Diablo (Jay Hernandez), but his own script fails him from the beginning.  Ayers doesn’t bother to develop any of these characters, instead preferring to show us individual vignettes about a minute or so long that establish the character as a villain and what their specialty is, but never really telling us anything about them.  There’s no doubt many of these characters could’ve used their own origin story in order to give more weight to what happens in “Suicide Squad”, but the narrative as it is doesn’t allow the audience enough time with any of them to invest emotionally.  The first act blows by as we’re introduced to the core group, plus a mere cameo by Jared Leto’s highly touted Joker is mostly mishandled, as he pops in once in a while but makes virtually no impact on the story.

     The set up reminds us that Superman is now dead and their are imminent threats to society that may need people with special abilities to combat.  High level government agent Amanda Waller (Viola Davis) comes up with the idea of giving some of our most notorious locked up criminals the chance at lesser sentences if they agree to team up for the purposes of fighting evil even greater themselves.  Led by Special Forces operator Rick Flag (Joel Kinnaman), the group is sent into action when a mysterious witch like creature called the Enchantress (Cara Delevingne) threatens to destroy the world.  What else is new?  Of course with such a massive threat, one has to wonder why Batman or Wonder Woman aren’t available to respond, but Flag and his misfit group of criminals are dispatched to handle the situation.

     What comes next is your typical, uninventive and mostly unnecessarily excessive action sequence pitting our villain/heroes against their super natural enemy.  The action is always dark and the sets are grimy and dingy which does nothing but create a consistent sense of dread, rather than the colorful comic like trailers we’ve watched now for months that tried to sell us something else.  Instead of having conversations with one another, the characters simply spout off a series of one liners in scenes designed mostly to demonstrate their individual powers, but never giving us any idea how those powers would be used as part of the team they supposedly are.  Because of the dark tone and the poor dialogue, there is no fun to be had at any point in the story, begging the question of why Snyder continues to oversee these downers when the public has clearly stated they don’t want them.

     When Nolan gave us his outstanding “Dark Knight Trilogy” a few years back, we knew going in the narratives would be shaped more like a crime drama than a comic book movie and I think Snyder has attempted to recreate that vision, but he’s gone about it all wrong.  Nolan’s scripts were smart and the characters were allowed to marinate in a number of scenes before having them do anything memorable.  They were well developed in other words and though the material was serious, we were still jolted with an uplifting feeling of victory when Batman would succeed since we know he earned every win he got.  The characters in “Suicide Squad” don’t earn anything, which makes what they accomplish later in the film seem minor when compared to the feats of real superheroes in better films.  Either way, the filmmakers missed a golden opportunity to take for the first time, a group of DC characters and create something fresh and original.  Instead, Ayers seemed as though he was forced to simply follow Snyder’s established template.  And that’s not a good thing.  GRADE: D