Suicide Squad (2016)

In a world where Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman have sworn to protect the world from harm, the minute an evil magic force attacks a city, who gets sent in to save them? A team of villains with including a sharpshooter, a thief who is good with boomerangs and a crazy woman with a bat. This sounds like a great idea! Before I go further, a lot of people have dissected this movie and it’s basic flaws such as *shudders* Jared Leto’s Joker, so I am going to try to look at other components of this Oscar winning movie.

Suicide Squad is the third entry in the DC Extended Universe (DCEU) and is directed and written by David Ayer. Government official Amanda Waller (Viola Davis), decides to assemble a team of “the worst of the worst” take on difficult missions and be patsies if they fail. The team she proposes consists of Deadshot (Will Smith), Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie), Captain Boomerang (Jai Courtney), Rick Flag (Joel Kinnaman), and more. Together, this band of baddies must work together to stop the Enchantress (Cara Delevingne) and defeat her plans to…. destroy the world I think. It was never that clear. It involved a blue sky beam that’s for sure.

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Time to do some damage (Image: Giphy)

I wanted to like this movie, I really did. The trailers looked great and the hype surrounding it was there. But when I finally got to watching it, I was incredibly disappointed. This movie is a hot mess on all counts. That could be due to the rewrites and reshoots the film underwent before its August release. Reshoots are normal for any film. They fix shots, get new angles or add new scenes if needed. Successful reshoots can be indistinguishable in the cut. This did not appear to be the case for Suicide Squad. I don’t know what was reshot for the film. It just appears as if scenes had been shuffled around and content was shoved in. Hasty reshoots can create a nasty ripple effect in films that impact the whole product.

Of all the things to notice in a film, editing should be the lowest. With Suicide Squad, it was extremely noticeable. There were shots that felt awkwardly shoehorned into the main action and was clumsy. Editing’s main purpose in a film is to clarify the narrative’s space and time and set the pace for viewers. Suicide Squad’s editing does virtually none of that. There were moments when I could tell they were trying to go for something “crazy”, but it just seemed sloppy. A perfect example was during Harley Quinn’s introduction. The editing was more consistent with a subjective viewpoint, as if we were in Harley’s shoes. Yet her introduction is being given through Waller, who is an objective source. These clashing tones create confusion in the audience and heighten the glaring narrative problems.

My biggest problem with Suicide Squad is the narrative structure, particularly the beginning and ending. I won’t talk about the end, for those still interested in watching. The film opens in a prison showing Deadshot, played to “House of the Rising Sun” , then  Harley Quinn to “You Don’t Own Me” , then meeting Amanda Waller at a restaurant. Her entrance is marked by the Rolling Stones’ “Sympathy for the Devil”. Within the first 4 minutes, Suicide Squad had already played 3 songs and nothing has been made clear. I guess we were supposed to infer these character’s personalities through music? Rather than set the plot forward, Waller has to introduce each of the characters to us, complete with clips and a snazzy title card to showcase their skill set.

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How to introduce characters quickly (Image: Movie Screencaps)

While this was a valiant attempt to be creative, it was at the loss of real character development. I wanted to see the squad actually share some dialogue and witty remarks. This is a really cool looking group of villains with unique stories. They’re all killers, thieves, “the worst of the worst” as Waller puts it. Surely there would be some great moments? There are if you’re willing to wait for 45 minutes. And even then it’s very minimal, really just one scene where they reaffirm that they are all bad guys. Then it was a rush to the climax. Music and snazzy title cards to not allow for interesting character development. Having the characters interact and mingle their personalities does.

With all that I didn’t like, there were some positives in the film. At least we got a good Twenty One Pilots song with “Heathens” and some good performances. Will Smith and Margot Robbie did a good job with what was given to them. Margot Robbie did make me laugh one time. I also personally enjoyed, as ScreenJunkies put it, the chicken chomping exposition machine that is Rick Flag. He had the clunkiest lines in the whole movie (link to my favorite bit here), which are delivered in a way that is reminiscent of a certain sand hater in Attack of the Clones. To be fair, it is difficult to these lines convincingly.

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Some kind of Suicide Squad (Image: Vulture)

Overall, this film feels lazily pulled together. It tried to emulate Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy with its music choices and misfit team dynamics. The squad felt lackluster. None of their skill sets were truly utilized in any major capacity and there was no sense of unity. I would not recommend watching this, either with your squad or alone. I give this film a D+. DC, I want your films to succeed. I don’t like critiquing your movies like this. Please, Please, PLEASE don’t mess up Wonder Woman. 

For more on the editing in Suicide Squad, here is a video explaining more of the issues.

Thank you for reading! Please like, share, subscribe! What did you think of Suicide Squad? What are your favorite team-ups? What should I review next?

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