“Suicide Squad” is a movie for comic book fans and artists the world over, even though not much stands out to make it more than just another cape and villain film.
Many movie goers are starting to find the summer block buster season growing more repetitive and a bit staler with every new superhero or comic book based film release. This isn’t a shock because this is what happens with these types of movies, unfortunately. With every big budget disaster film success, there will be several more versions of that original movie for the next couple of years. The same can be said for all lucrative properties during the summer season and should not be delegated just to the cape wearing variety. Now with Warner Bros. and DC Entertainment’s villain packed Suicide Squad finally arriving in theaters over the past weekend, will audiences see a break from the norm? Can the DCEU finally gain a secure foothold in their slightly shaky cinematic universe or is this yet another loose cog in the wheel?
Suicide Squad does what it is supposed to do. It creates a position for the DCEU franchise that is much steadier than the theatrical release of Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice. It does so through entertaining characters, standard action and creative designs. David Ayer, who has directed such gritty films as Harsh Times and End of Watch, found critical acclaim with his WWII movie, Fury. In the film, Ayer did a great job of developing and humanizing a team of unlikable individuals in a story that was sprinkled with dramatic action and thrilling suspense. With Suicide Squad, there are moments that have the same amount of attentiveness and structure, although it is few and far between and is understandably simplified for the comic book loving demographic.
There are many moments that I liked and was pleasantly surprised by. The CGI was not ground breaking, but not to be ashamed of. The designs of the actual villain(s) were straight out of the nightmares of classic sci-fi creators. The battle damaged sets were fascinating and showcased a vision that is very reminiscent of the splatter-like style of Capcom’s DmC: Devil May Cry game. Another remarkable stand out for me, as far as costume and special effects go, was the intriguing design and the movement of notorious Batman villain, Killer Croc. He didn’t truly have a big part in the movie but, taking into consideration how practical his design was, it wasn’t half bad and worthy of mention.
The development of Will Smith’s Deadshot character was an inspired foundation point for the movie. The character’s motivations and Smith’s token wise cracking blended as well as can be expected. But the surprise character of note through motivation, back story and performance has to be with Jay Hernandez’ attention-grabbing El Diablo, who is considered to be the heart of the team. This was a delightful surprise as his character never really gained much market promotion in trailers or commercials which helped to make him a shining star above everyone else for me. The rest of the cast was not bad. Although the interactions between the characters were mostly entertaining and humorous, not all of them received enough screen time or scene variety to truly showcase their talents or extreme personalities.
This brings me to the things that I didn’t like about the movie. I understand that this movie is the debut for all of these characters as well as the first movie of its kind in the DCEU cinematic franchise. So, some plot holes or weak narrative can be forgiven. Also, some choices that were made for certain characters or scenes can also be excused as this movie is trying to build its framework and doesn’t need to be astounding in the first run. But, at times this movie felt so fast paced that I began to feel like this was a summary of this team’s first mission rather than a stark, uncompromising ride into battle. Ayer accomplished this superbly with Fury and I was hoping to see how these characters would believably become a squadron. Even in movies such as Pete Travis’ Dredd, which had the same pacing as this film, they provided beautiful, clear-cut action sequences with brief moments of back story or symbolism as to who Dredd and his partner was in a narrative that never felt rushed or dragging. The very similar Guardians of The Galaxy skillfully brought the members of the team together by focusing primarily on the extremely human story of Peter Quill and surrounding him with characters that change through their interactions with him, providing an authentic growth for each individual there by bringing together a true team that felt more like a family in the end. Unfortunately, I didn’t feel like there was enough attention to the relationships between the members of the Squad, which more than likely is due to the editing of the film. (More on that later.)
Another complaint I have is that the action sequences weren’t clear at times, at one point literally draping the final battle in smoke and dust. The enemies never felt as though they stood a chance against these characters that aren’t entirely all that powerful, making the villain(s) seem like a hurdle rather than an actual threat. This has become a common complaint in DC and Marvel movies alike. The villain of the film could have been utilized in a very powerful way, but instead serves as a background opposition force much like Gozer in the original Ghostbusters film. The comic book characters, although portrayed accurately, never truly get to do what comic book characters do all that often with the exception of Deadshot and El Diablo. Joker for instance, performed creatively and truly unique by Jared Leto, is in the movie haphazardly and gets possibly one or two good laughs in.
I believe that this movie may suffer from the same thing that made Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice a very lackluster experience. From what I hear, the theatrical version of the film is considerably chopped and screwed in comparison to the fuller Ultimate Edition cut it received later in distribution. Everyone who has seen this version has agreed that it makes the movie a better, streamlined outing. According to rumors, there are several cuts of Suicide Squad out there, before and after re-shoots. Some critics were able to see the original version of the movie and stated how brilliant and innovative it was for the genre as a whole. But after seeing the final version of the film that has made it to big screens, those same critics were shocked to see a reworked movie that most felt didn’t need to be touched. To add to the “executive revision” rumor, Jared Leto tweeted annoyance at the fact that most of his work didn’t make it into the theatrical version, which is weird to say the least considering how much promotion he received before his debut.
All in all, my opinion doesn’t waver. The movie is good, though not great. There are many elements of the movie that are remarkable to note, but some may find those moments brief and will leave many wishing for more. The complaints that I have outside of the ones I have stated have less to do with the actual film and more to do with the opportunities I feel they missed to make this movie much more than it is. As a debut movie for this new franchise and as a new chapter in the much bigger DCEU franchise, Suicide Squad is not a bad effort. I just have a hard time saying that this movie is spectacular or unique when considering other block buster comic adapted releases that have earned praise from all types of fans and not just the fanboys or girls of the source material. It does little to separate itself from just being another comic book movie and it has little to make you a superhero film faithful if you aren’t one already.
The movie has moderate action that is standard but never too violent. The language, on the other hand, can be a bit strong at times considering its PG-13 rating. Also, although the 3D is artistically intense, it neither adds nor takes away from the Squad experience. Enjoy!