Review: 'Suicide Squad' (spoilers)

By: Heather Seebach

**Warning: The following contains major spoilers. Read at your own risk**

While the entire internet seems to have devolved into a playground of proverbial toddlers pissing their diapers crying over DC vs Marvel, I genuinely welcome it all. More comic book movies is fine by me! It cannot be denied, however, that DC's output has been less than encouraging, and they seem to be in this massive (and foolish) rush to catch up to the MCU. I was really rooting for Suicide Squad to be the first DC entry I could truly enjoy. I thought, "FINALLY, a DC film with a little humor, a splash of color, and some eccentricities!" Unfortunately, those qualities are barely noticeable in a film that is a sloppy, half-assed mess.

Before I start digging into my complaints, I will say up-front that I really enjoyed the cast. They are by far the strongest element of Suicide Squad. With the exception of Leto's Joker (and I will get more into that later), each character was executed suitably by their actors, even the ones you might not expect (*cough* Jai Courtney *cough*). While Deadshot's 1950s attitude toward women is a bit annoying (albeit presumably deliberate), Will Smith plays the role well. The most entertaining to watch, of course, was Margot Robbie as Harley Quinn. While some aspects of her character are botched (more on that later), Robbie is ideal for the role and I hope she reprises it in a better film someday. Perhaps a Mad Love adaptation?! Some of the characters are underused - or misused - but overall, the cast did a good job and seemed to have fun making this. I would still be happy to watch them play their roles again in a better sequel.

Now, onto the other 80% of the movie - the mess. What follows is intended for folks who have already seen the film, as I do not feel like I can go into detail about my specific disappointments without using some spoilers. You have been warned!


Let us begin with the biggest fundamental flaw of Suicide Squad: the entire plot. After the metahuman fears that arose in Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice, Amanda Waller (Viola Davis) decides the world needs a team who can stand up to potential threats, like if the "next Superman" is not so friendly. So her idea is to assemble a team of superhumans who can face such a threat. Seems reasonable enough, right? Of course, unlike the Marvel world, they don't yet have this abundance of superheroes to call upon (not yet - Bats is working on it), so Waller turns to supervillains. Sure, they are unpredictable and dangerous psychopaths, but all the same, I've always loved this concept. The problem is, the Suicide Squad of this film consists of exactly two metahumans (one is arguable, as he's basically just half-crocodile), and the rest are a marksman, a thief, a violent nutjob, and a guy who "can climb anything." How exactly are these people supposed to stop a villain on par with Superman?!

I hope sarcasm and hotpants can stop Superman!

This is where the story makes no sense and it irritates me because this film could have - and should have - been about the Squad being used on covert missions - say, taking out terrorists, drug cartels, warlords, etc. Situations where they were equipped to fight but it could be discrete and their deaths would be easy to sweep under the rug. THAT is the basic idea behind the Suicide Squad, but in the grand attempt to rush the DC Cinematic Universe, the filmmakers shoehorned this movie into the universe of BvS, Justice League, etc., losing logic and plot along the way. So right from the start, we are expected to believe that the United States government risks putting psychopaths and murderers on the street to stop a foe they are not remotely capable of defeating. If they are going to employ 90% humans, why not just get soldiers to do the job? It all reminds me of the plot of Armageddon, where the government decided it would be easier and more efficient to train oil drillers to become astronauts than it would be train NASA astronauts to use an oil drill. At least that ridiculous movie was fun.

That leads me to my next fundamental problem with Suicide Squad: it is not nearly as fun as it looks. The trailers looked so fun, as trailers often do, because quick cutting and quirky music choices make that look easy. In the actual film, however, those principles do not apply. Let me be clear about this: I have no problem with the music CHOICES. Yes, they are random and widely used in other media but I love the choices all the same. My problem is how the film uses them constantly, usually in lieu of a score or ambient noise. It becomes very distracting, especially over dialogue scenes. It felt like watching a movie while the radio is on, switching from one song to the next the whole time. So too is the editing atrocious, jumping around unnecessarily with useless, redundant flashbacks. As most of us know, this film was notoriously hacked up and re-shot, so who knows, maybe there is a better cut out there. Maybe some of those lost scenes even the keel, but I can only judge the final product I saw on-screen, the one we all saw, which was a goddamn mess.

Next up: the characters. As I already said, most of them were just fine. Some (like Diablo) got more backstory than I expected. The only one of the Squad who truly irked me was Captain Rick Flagg, who I renamed Captain Obvious for his obnoxious tendency to narrate scenes. In one scene, we see Kitana talking to her soul-trapping sword, saying something like, "Husband, I will avenge you"  and then Flagg literally explains, "Her husband's soul is in there...she talks to it." Seriously, Rick?

Anyway, I am not particularly invested in any of the characters except Harley and Joker so I will focus on those two - the strengths and weaknesses therein. First off: that Joker. My reaction to the initial reveal was much like everyone's else's: UGH! Still, I waited and I kept an open mind. After all, the look of Heath Ledger's Joker was unexpected, too, but he won me over in The Dark Knight. Having seen Jared Leto's version now, I can safely say, it is shit. The look is still atrocious, misguided, and distracting. Ghetto-thug Joker is a unique take, sure, but that does not mean I have to like it. He does not get a free pass for simply "doing his own thing." The man having "DAMAGED" tattooed on his forehead is more than a little obvious. And that grill gives Leto a distracting lisp. For fuck's sake, couldn't they at least ADR his voice without it? The ONLY Joker moment I enjoyed was when we showed up on the helicopter in a tuxedo with a machine gun, laughing. In that very brief shining moment, he felt like actual Joker. The rest of the movie he just sauntered around like a ghetto gangster, going, "WHERE'S HARRRLEYYY?!" and doing fuck-all else. Again, maybe those deleted scenes flesh out his character better, but I can only speak to the final product on-screen. The Joker I saw was boring and did very little of interest. To all the people saying this is the "true comic book Joker", exactly what and how much are you smoking? I saw hardly anything of the Clown Prince of Crime I know (and yes I have read many Batman comics and graphic novels). He never felt manic or unpredictable, just another dull gang banger. 

"Docthor Quinthzel, I neeth a mathine gun."

Furthermore, his relationship with Harley Quinn did not measure up, either. First of all: screenwriters, pick an origin story and stick with it. Don't give me 15 non-linear flashbacks borrowing from Batman: The Animated Series, Mad Love, The New 52, etc. PICK ONE! With the frantic cutting, the filmmakers seemed more concerned with cramming as many tiny Harley/Joker moments into a montage as they could, rather than flesh out the actual relationship. Sure, that Alex Ross shot was a cool little geek moment, but it got lost in a mess of other snippets. The thing about Harley's various origin stories is, they are drastically different, particularly when it comes to Harley making the choice. You can't throw them all in a blender together because they look cool. My personal favorite was always Dr. Quinzel falling in love with him and simply going mad from that - no chemicals or other bullshit needed. In Suicide Squad, the timeline of their relationship is all over. She seemingly falls for him, but then he electro-shocks her? She calls him "Mr. J" on the table (way too early, if you ask me) so she has already become Harley Quinn at that point. Then he asks her to jump into chemicals? Why was the chemicals scene even in there?? It was absolutely pointless and changed her in no way. Plus, Joker then jumps in after her and swoops her into his arms all romantically? Ewww!

He was WAY too fucking sweet to her in this movie. Like it or not, their relationship always has been based on pure domestic abuse but those are the characters - take it or leave it. Do not insult my intelligence by Nicolas Sparksing the shit out of Joker and Harley! When Harley first showed up in the Animated Series, I adored her because she is a strong, intelligent woman who makes terrible, self-harming decisions and I loved that she was so HUMAN. Feminism does not mean always showing women at their peak, it's about showing them honestly, emotional blemishes and all. So she fell in love with a man who physically and emotional abused the shit out of her. It's a situation many women know all too well. It's harsh but it defines the Joker-Harley relationship and to remove it just cheats fans of the characters. Were the filmmakers afraid to show him being cruel to her? Seems odd, considering Suicide Squad otherwise has a weird pre-occupation with beating women, namely Deadshot's references to punching Quinn or telling Flagg to "get up there and sort your woman" (paraphrasing from memory). Getting back to my point: Joker and Harley's relationship in this seemed way too, er, romantic. His entire role in this film is to show up and save Harley. Or he is just plain pimping her out to another thug which was just bizarre and unnecessary. That was seemingly just an excuse to have Margot Robbie dancing seductively, as far as I can tell.

True love means jumping into a vat of food coloring.

The only moment that felt like they might have gotten it right was when Joker runs the car into the river and leaves Harley for dead. It's unclear, however, and I wish they took a moment to show him deliberately, callously abandoning her. Based on his reaction in the next flashback, it seemed like he was genuinely concerned for her. Did he think she was dead? Or did he leave her because he's a prick (as he should be)? I would have liked more of that scene. They could have easily done it in the helicopter scene, too, by having him push her, or deliberately let go of her hand to try and save himself. But that did not happen - it was more like two star-crossed lovers forcefully separated. Eww. Joker is a self-centered psychopath who enjoys Harley as property but commonly abandons or pushes her in harm's way when it pleases him. I saw hardly any of that in Suicide Squad.

 Okay, enough about those two. Onto my final complaint: the villain. Before I saw the film, I was excited about the inclusion of Enchantress, as those more supernatural characters are often left on the cutting room flood (*cough* Guardians of the Galaxy *cough*). Plus, she would have been one more member of the Squad with legit superpowers. So you can imagine my disappointment when she turned out to be just a lame ass villain. Why was the subplot of her brother even in this movie? It was completely pointless! The entire Enchantress storyline was convoluted as hell, too. They use her heart to control her but when they stabbed the heart she could simply jump into some other body, but they still needed the heart at the end to kill her...but not kill the scientist she possessed, no. And did you know you can blow up a big magic vortex with regular explosives? Speaking of bombs, when they had that big bomb in the sewer, why not put THAT under the actual villain instead of just taking out her useless brother? Why not both? It is, you know, a bomb. And let's not forget how the entire ending was more like Ghostbusters than the actual Ghostbusters reboot.

More like "Kali Meh", amiright?

In summary, I so wanted to enjoy this movie. I was really rooting for it. For that reason, it is all the more infuriating to me that they fumbled the ball so badly. A nonsensical plot, heinous editing, and the lack of any genuine action sequences made for a dull experience overall. I liked the cast enough that I would give a sequel a shot, preferably if the film is put in better hands - but I am not holding my breath.

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