Suicide Squad ★½

Imagine if a set of focus group notes went sentient and decided to write, direct and edit a summer blockbuster. That's about half as excruciating as Suicide Squad was to watch.

I'm going to start with the positives first, because they're nice and short. All the performances were pretty good. It was nice to have proper Will Smith back, Margot Robbie was surprisingly nuanced as Harley Quinn, and Viola Davis was BADASS as Amanda Waller. If there is any part of these movies I'm looking forward to now, it's her. Jai Courtney was a pleasant surprise as Captain Boomerang, Jay Hernandez was quietly powerful as El Diablo and for the five words she said Karen Fukuhara was good as Katana. Killer Croc looked cool, but really didn't do anything until the final act. Then I think at this point we all know about Slipknot. If you don't know I won't say anything else other than that he was given literally nothing to do.

Okay, now to the negatives. Notice how I said very little about anyone? Because no one gets proper screen time outside of Will Smith and Margot Robbie. I wanted more of all these characters, but because I was enjoying myself, but because they aren't given any time to breathe. The film moves at such a weird pace and the tone is so utterly fucked that the film doesn't know whether it's a Marvel-esque quip fest or a dark, grounded mission movie. It becomes so clear from the start that studio interference was heavy. The editing is terrible, and flashbacks are thrown into the first half hour all over the place. But you know these were meant to be full scenes because of the editing and how weird it feels. Between the lack of focus, insufferable music cues and Hot Topic aesthetic I was tempted to walk out at the half hour mark. What makes this first half hour mark worse is that we have to sit around with Jared Leto's interpretation of The Joker.

Oooooooohhh boy. Now aesthetically and contextually this version could be very interesting when explored later. I like the idea of the Joker, a usually scarred and damaged character being all about the surface level and looks. I also think if we find out that this isn't the original Joker, but a protege (much like Robin was to Batman) that could be an interesting road to take. Sadly, its all brought crashing down to earth in Leto's performance. It's not that its staggeringly awful, its just such a one-dimensional reading of these ideas and the character at large. I'm witholding full judgement until the DCEU decides to show him off more, but for now I am fully unconvinced.

Thankfully, the film got a bit better. The musical cues died down a bit, the editing calms down and the presence of The Joker becomes much less of a presence. It also helps that the third act becomes genuinely weird shlock, where a fight breaks out between two characters with magical powers that weren't explained beforehand. Enchantress does some monologuing whilst doing her best Shakira hips and the cast does look like they're having fun, rather than it being edited to look that way. It feels right, and had the tone been like that from the start of production I think this could have been a pretty fun time.

I'm not quite sure what I saw last night. I'm at a genuine loss for words to describe it. Is the DC Extended Universe meant to be a secret plot to sink the entire comic book movie business? We're three films in and already we're at 0 for 3. Come on lads, we can do better than this.


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