Suicide Squad ★½

How did we end up here? I honestly, sincerely with all of my heart wanted to love David Ayer's vision of Suicide Squad. Even after being turned off by Jared Leto's Joker, I had a sliver of hope that this film would turn out to be good, especially after enjoying Batman v Superman on a revisit. Unfortunately, I don't think that any amount of rewatches can revive any interest I'll have in watching this film at all, because the final product is such a flaming hot mess that I don't want to even get close to touching it again.

Ayer starts off trying to emulate the dialogue-driven exposition behind Snyder's Dawn of Justice by inserting a nearly 30 minute prologue that introduces its lead characters and just how they got into their respectable predicaments (some involving a gratuitous cameo from Batfleck himself). But then Ayer ditches the exposition and dives into 100 minutes of frenetic action and a rock soundtrack that feels suspiciously similar to Guardians of the Galaxy's track list. The two films even share a song. We've literally gotten to the point where DC can't contain themselves and have to put in a reference to the film they are clearly Xeroxing.

Ayer branches his film into two separate plots that are entirely independent of each other yet serve no purpose in actually maintaining a coherent narrative. On one hand, we have Jared Leto's Joker in search of his lost and imprisoned Harley (more on that in a minute), and on the other side we have the main villain: a goddess- oh, excuse me, "metahuman" woman, and her brother out to take over the world. And yes, there is a giant beam of light in the finale that bears reminiscence of Fant4stic. Yet another atrocity this film commits is consistently reminding me that the aforementioned dumpster fire exists.

I know that the superhero team movie was going to be inevitable for the DCEU, but honestly, did it really have to come so soon? Shouldn't that be in like, Phase Two? Does DC even have phases in their plan? Are they just throwing darts at a board with various comic book series titles and saying "Yep, we're doing that one next!"? There's a sort of coherence that seems to be absent in some of DC's cinematic game plan, although I still retain some hope for their future.

It's glaringly obvious that this film was completely rushed in its production. Perhaps Warner Bros. was anticipating BvS to achieve its massive success quickly enough so that they could almost immediately afterwards unload another piece of their cinematic universe onto audiences while retaining a familiar aspect of the film's main characters. Maybe the biggest mistake made in this film was lightening up the tone a bit too much. Ironically, the dark, brooding atmosphere of the previous DC films (particularly the Batman films) worked quite well as a counter to the somewhat bright and cheery heroism of the MCU films. However, this Suicide Squad takes the two deliciously psychotic characters we know and love and turns them into tattooed emo punks. Jared Leto's Joker, the worst incarnation of the character I've seen yet, looks like he robbed a Hot Topic just before walking into a strip club. And Harley..... As much as I love Margot Robbie like any other straight twentysomething male would, her half naked character and its relationship with the Joker is completely unbecoming of how the character was originally conceived.

The term harlequin actually refers to an old type of character in classic Italian comedy theater. These characters were masked like jesters, meant to be servants that are around for their king or master's amusement. Harley Quinn's name literally derives from this character type, and the way her character's relationship with the Joker was originally conceived mirrors this fact. Harley was always just a means to an end for the Joker, another tool in his massive arsenal of lunacy. In Suicide Squad, they're practically married. They're constantly all over each other, furthering the sexualization that Harley undergoes in this adaptation. Yes, there's a certain depth of love that the Joker retains exclusively for Harley in the comics and cartoon series, but it's far more shallow than it is in this live action version. It's bad enough that the Joker is minimized to a side plot that probably sets up the next solo Batman film, but the complete bastardization that Ayer does to J and Harley's relationship is ridiculously offensive. I know, I know, directors and writers take creative liberty with live action adaptations and blah, blah, blah, whatever. I just want Harley back in her classic red and black suit and a Joker that doesn't look like trailer trash from Newark, Ohio.

The one saving grace I found in Suicide Squad, aside from the satisfying rock and roll playlist, was Will Smith. His Deadshot character was surprisingly well done, and he managed to make me laugh when I was supposed to, unlike any of the other characters and the ridiculously overdrawn slow motion sequence near the end. Seriously, that part nearly had me in tears crying from laughter. I could barely control myself, I thought I was going to get kicked out of the theater. If they make a solo film out of his character in the future (perhaps as a darker DC alternative to Deadpool), then I might find myself pleasantly surprised, for once.

I had reserved some hope for Suicide Squad, but in the end it's just a CGI-splattered mess yet again butchered by studio executives. I refuse to believe that the Joker's role was originally supposed to be whittled down to a less than 15 minute sideshow. At least it spared me the horror of having to watch Leto's punk Joker caricature cackling on the screen for an extended period of time. The Joker literally never meets some of the members of the Suicide Squad, his contact exclusively restricted to his rescue mission for Harley. I can tell that Ayer really meant well with this adaptation, and I might be willing to give it a second look if a director's cut ever comes out. It might have even worked better as a full on R rated flick. Since it seemed to work so well for Deadpool and Batman v Superman, perhaps extending this film a little to garner an R rating will be its saving grace. Only time will really tell, because right now I want to forget just about everything in this movie. Just watch Guardians of the Galaxy again instead and pretend Will Smith is with them. It'll be a lot more enjoyable, trust me.

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