Monday, August 8, 2016

[Review] Suicide Squad

As the film's showdown approaches, the smooth sniper Deadshot (Will Smith) gazes up at a destructive force summoned by the story's witchy villain Enchantress (Cara Delevingne), and he reluctantly says: "We're going into the swirling ring of trash in the sky." Now, I'm not going to call Suicide Squad a "swirling ring of trash", but it's definitely a poorly assembled waste of resources.

After the sloggy match between icons Batman v Superman dropped into theaters with thuds of disappointment, there was a shred of hope that Suicide Squad might at least inject some spunk into the DC Cinematic Universe, even though the teasers hinted at a lesser version of Marvel's phenomenal Guardians of the Galaxy. The frustrating thing about the final product is that there's a notion of some cool stuff going on here, but the film fundamentally screws itself over.

Hard-nosed government official (Viola Davis) devises a plan to put together a task force of incarcerated supervillains in order to fight crime in the streets. Aside from the already mentioned Deadshot, the unhinged bunch of criminals include: Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie), Boomerang (Jai Courtney), El Diablo (Jay Hernandez), and Killer Croc (Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje).

With muddy editing and haphazard tampers running amok, the narrative spends tons of time on intros. And while it's nice to get some background on these goons, it can't help but feel like a disjointed dump of exposition. Some flashbacks drag too long, while others are insanely rushed. A prime example of a misstep is the video game-like descriptions that appear on the screen with each character--the graphics literally whiz by too fast to even read, so they might as well not be there at all.

That said, the Suicide Squad boasts a deliciously vile crew. Harley Quinn is a standout and is guaranteed to be a fan favorite with her sly and conniving wit, comic timing, disheveled sexiness, and yes--her self-proclaimed craziness. She flaunts a dollish aesthetic but will bash your head with a baseball bat in a heartbeat. Margot Robbie seems to be having a ball (pun kind of intended) in this role. Will Smith gets a solid amount of screentime too. The charismatic action veteran thrives well in this setting and delivers plenty of attitude when given the chance, and we get to see him light up a glut of targets while "Black Skinhead" by Kanye West plays. The rest of the squad is just kind of there.

The much-hyped Jared Leto is fine as this maniacal and flamboyant version of The Joker, but he's seriously only in the movie for a total of 10 minutes. More peripheral than pivotal. And it goes without saying that he doesn't capture the dark, fear-inducing sad clown vibes of Heath Ledger's notorious turn (R.I.P.). Enchantress, while supernaturally powerful, isn't a great villain. She's conceived with cringe-inducing scenes of special effects that make it look as if a ghoul from 2016's Ghostbusters teleported into the wrong movie. The putrid cinematography and lighting doesn't help matters either. The entire picture is cloaked in a dulling darkness, and not in a slick shadowy way. Sometimes it's difficult to make out facial expressions, let alone see what's going on. At one point, I actually thought to myself, "Wait, did I accidentally wear sunglasses into the theater?"

Director David Ayer has helmed some heavily intense films like the gritty cop drama End of Watch and the gruesome tank thriller Fury. Unfortunately, none of that intensity or camaraderie comes across here, even amidst all the combat and forced teamwork. The arcs and moments of "bonding" toward the end fall flat. The word "Family" is risibly tossed around, and I'm like "Yo, you guys have barely even interacted... and wait, which one are you again?" Those glaring pitfalls show just how much Suicide Squad lacks in the heart and endearing character department compared to Guardians of the Galaxy. There's an underlying theme about the dangerous prisoners doing something worthwhile with their potent skills, but it's still unearned and underdeveloped.

Suicide Squad is a Hot Topic-core spectacle. A moving Halloween costume on steroids. A Slim Shady fever dream. A spark of Tumblr .gif fandom. Fun and stylish at times, but too flawed and messy to fully rock with. It's basically the cinematic equivalent of that fedora "What you think you look like" vs "What you really look like" meme. It isn't as brooding, edgy, funny or entertaining as it's aiming to be. What could have been a sharp kick of sadistic badassery, ends up being a significant miss.

( 5.5/10 )

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  1. That last paragraph is legendary. Great review Zach, couldn't agree more. So disappointed with how this one turned out.

  2. That last paragraph is legendary. Great review Zach, couldn't agree more. So disappointed with how this one turned out.

    1. Thanks man. It's definitely disappointing because it feels like there could've been a special movie in there somewhere but there's just too many major missteps.

  3. Ah. Yes. Visually the film was terrible, almost impossible to see a times. I agree that Margot Robbie was stand out but I never engaged with her Harley Quinn, I found her entertaining though. I did engage with Will Smith Deadshot, I thought he did a pretty good job.

  4. Nailed it. An entertaining mess but a mess nonetheless.