Suicide Squad

Suicide Squad ½

If "BvS" was not sufficient evidence that the DCEU was DOA, allow Warner Bros. to present Exhibit B. 

"Suicide Squad" is objectively a terrible film. Never mind the fans vs. critics divide, of which so much has been made online since punishing reviews of the movie were published. "Suicide Squad" disappoints regardless of whichever lens you watch it through. To say that the movie is "for the fans" or that "critics don't get it" is only an attempt at self-delusion in defense of an insultingly shoddy movie. 

As a critic, I found the plot incoherent, the characters unsympathetic, and the aesthetic off-putting. Writer-director David Ayer hopes to overcome the challenge of introducing a ridiculously large ensemble via hasty "cliff notes" flashbacks. The first encounters with the baddies consequently feel tedious and mechanical, and neither will excite fans or engage the average movie-goer despite the movie's desperate attempts to do both. Because character development is essentially bypassed, the motivations for each character's actions are muddled, if not right out incomprehensible. The villain's plan is nonsense, and the cameos of other DCEU characters gratuitous. Without any interesting characters or plot, "Suicide Squad" could have been saved by some eye-catching visuals. After all, it has the ensemble for it. But set almost entirely at night, in shadowy, grimy locales, the action proves difficult to appreciate. The onslaught of bullets fired in this film, far superior to any other superhero film of recent memory, proves punishing both visually and aurally. And the bloodless violence that accompanies Ayer's fetishistic portrayal of guns is more than alarming, especially given that this is a PG-13 movie. 

As a fan, I was let down by the uninventive take on all of the characters, most of which have terrific potential for standalone films that could do better justice to their complicated backstories. The Joker, as played by Jared Leto, is nothing more than a chic gangster. As disappointed as I was that the Joker did not get more screen time, I was glad I was not subjected to Leto's laughable take for longer. Harley Quinn's troubling relationship with the Joker was completely glossed over, giving the standout performance of the film conflicting motivations and backstory. Ayer seemed more preoccupied with capturing Margot Robbie's posterior onscreen than with making her character's history and journey logical. And poor Will Smith who's charisma is not enough to save this debacle. He may have joined the project hoping to play a super villain, but the movie spends so much time giving Deadshot a heart that it's nearly impossible to understand why he's a convict in the first place. 

Even the movie's shameless attempts to emulate the MCU are failures. "Suicide Squad" features a catchy rock soundtrack, a la "Guardians of the Galaxy," but with songs with lyrics playing over scenes with dialogue and drastic tune changes as quickly as one scene to the next, it appears instead that the sound editor fell asleep on the job with his iTunes library playing on shuffle. And the pointless mid-credits scene, in which Viola Davis gives Ben Affleck a folder with information on the Justice League members, neither discloses new information or tease any future events that fans are not already privy to. If you are going to copy shamelessly from a superior competitor, at least get it right. 

Again, let's not delude ourselves: "Suicide Squad" is the worst of the worst. If not as critics, then as fans we need to hold the studios to a higher standard. Just because Warner Bros. is putting some of our favorite characters onscreen doesn't make it immediately exciting. We should expect studios to exercise the same level of creativity with these characters as their creators did. Otherwise, they'll continue to churn out such cynical displays of carelessness and disrespect to audiences as "Suicide Squad."

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