Suicide Squad ★★★

"Love your perfume. What is that, the stench of death?"


Here's what I wrote on Twitter during my time watching Suicide Squad today:

13:29pm -
"So I've started watching #SuicideSquad, and I'm gonna try something new - if the film is as awful as I've heard, I'm going to live tweet it."

13:32pm -
"Because if this is anywhere near as bad as my experience with #JasonBourne, I don't want to sit here bored out of my mind with nothing to do"

(Though as it turned out, Suicide Squad kept me interested and mostly un-bored enough through its running time, so I didn't write as much as I had anticipated/dreaded.)

14:29pm -
"Holy shit, I've just realised something - this is basically The Raid and/or Dredd, but with metahumans."

(This refers to the middle section of the movie, where the "SKWAD" make their way up a building level by level to reach an end goal, fighting baddies as they go. Hence the filmic comparisons.)

14:39pm -
"THIRD helicopter to crash now (two of them within two minutes of each other!)."

(And of course that last helicopter had to have the number "23" on it, didn't it?!)

14:57pm -
"Soooo...Harley Quinn's fantasy is to have a Wolf of Wall Street/American Psycho crossover?
Eh. Fair enough."

(And lastly...)

15:17pm -
"Well, #SuicideSquad is finished.
Not great, but not terrible either.
I was never bored, & I don't regret seeing it."

Which, yeah, I guess sums up pretty much everything I had to say, but allow me to elaborate a little further on some other points I didn't tweet about:

• Roman Vasyanov's gorgeous cinematography is one of the film's biggest saving graces, in the face of its many many many many many many flaws. Whenever the very substance of the film falters, his way with imagery provides at least some form of redemption.

• Steven "Gravity" Price's score is another of those aforementioned saving graces, his luscious strings and haunting melodies as lovely as ever, even when the mood of his music doesn't fit with the tone of the scene playing under it.

• Speaking of the soundtrack - you can painfully tell they were going for a Guardians of the Galaxy-style vibe with their playlist for the movie, but you can also painfully tell that there's no care or attention paid to the curation of songs, judging by how all of the songs are some of the most overused and overplayed in all of pop culture. The crucial difference between Squad's soundtrack and Guardians's soundtrack is that in the case of the latter, you could tell that James Gunn personally hand-picked every song to fulfill his very specific vision for the mood of his movie.
(Not to mention Gunn has great taste in music just in general, as anyone who follows his Snapchat/Instagram Stories can attest.)

• Focused plotting, well-written dialogue, and believably fleshed-out characters are all things that David Ayer seems to have a frequent problem with (at least in recent years, anyway). Here, those problems manifest themselves in the way the story is riddled with lapses in logic (e.g. we've all seen this video by now, right?), the lack of almost any memorable dialogue or jokes (load of good those reshoots did, eh?), and the frequently baffling, contradictory, and occasionally non-existent character motivations.

My god, sometimes it feels like they accidentally fed the movie through a shredder, scrambled to pick up as many pieces as they could, and then stuck them all together again, hoping all the pieces fit correctly.
But nope.
The structure is exceptionally wonky, with plot points muddled and obfuscated by confusing editing making some things happen off-screen and then get called back through flashback, as well as the nagging suspicion that not only did they cut out so many great parts from the various trailers (which this film, incidentally, often feels like - just a two hour string of clips and trailers, with barely any connective tissue), but that there are probably Prometheus-levels of deleted scenes that should never have been deleted.
Didn't we have this exact same conversation back in March about a certain other big-but-critically-misfiring DC movie?
And seriously, having stayed through most of the credits, I believe I'm right in saying I saw 9 - I repeat: NINE!! - credited editors for this film.
I mean...DUDE.
Unless you're Terence Malick, you do not need NINE EDITORS.
But as ever with Warner Bros doing DC movies, there just always seem to be too many cooks...

• Another big problem with the film is that you never really feel for any of the characters.
Sure, those unreadably-quick Top Trumps-style introductions to all the characters may tell us all we need to know...but that's just it - we're told, not shown, and thus we feel nothing.
Which makes many character-driven moments that should be tons more impactful - (Diablo's backstory; Harley crying; Flagg and June's every scene) - make nary a dent. They just...occur, and that's it.

• That being said, one of the best things in the film is Will Smith's Deadshot, because through the sheer force of Will (har har) of his performance, Smith makes Floyd Lawton the character we care about most, subverting the ensemble to kind of make the film his own.
Like, in this one moment where Floyd says he "wants his daughter not to think he's a piece of shit", you can hear the most subtlest of voice cracks happen when he says that, and it's a recognisably human moment, and it actually gives you the major feels!

• But on another negative note - the sexism in this film is a glaring issue.
From Enchantress's weird skimpy get-up, to a woman getting punched in the face for a "gag" that is deliberately rooted in the fact that she was a woman, to Katana getting criminally sidelined (even though she and her backstory are so fascinating), to literally every single line Will Smith has where he refers to women as "bitch" or "dollface" or whatever, to the Joker's gross comments about Harley, to Harley Quinn's outfit, and by extension David Ayer's camera's lingering obsession with ogling Harley/Margot Robbie's legs and bum every chance he gets.
(I mean, don't get me wrong, Margot Robbie is Margot Robbie, so naturally she gives me a major case of the wobbly-knees, but that doesn't mean I want to see her subjected to perpetual male gaze objectification and fetishisation. But I digress.)

• And speaking of the Joker -
Bro. Mate. Dude.
Just...take it down a notch, okay?
You're only onscreen for less than 10 minutes.
There's no need to have sent your co-stars used condoms to freak them out, just for this tiny role.
You don't always have to go method, okay?
You're weird, and gross, and not in the way the Joker should be.
Also also:
What was with that odd cat growl purr thing you did? That was...really...something, I guess...

• Viola Davis as Amanda Waller is simply perfect casting, and she damn well kills it in this role.
How To Get Away With Murder?
Play Amanda Waller, gosh darn it!

• Overall, the film isn't ginormously great, but nor is it irredeemably bad.
It's a mixed bag, filled with as many good ideas as it is filled with terrible ideas.
It is what it is, and so far in the line-up of completed DCEU movies, this still isn't the worse one (for Man Of Steel still exists).
If they follow through with this film's best characters going forward, and drop the dead weight of Flagg and Killer Croc and Captain Boomerang and whoever else added nothing, I'd love to see what this motley crew of assholes does next in the DC movie-verse.

• (But for the love of god, don't let Leto go method again. And if you're going to make the Joker look like Macauley Culkin as a pimp, you might as well cast Macauley Culkin and cut out the middle-man.
I mean, after all, he already gave a pretty good audition...)

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