As of late, Warner Brothers has created an unfortunate trend with their DC properties. They release incredible trailers, promising marvelous adaptations of beloved comic book characters, only for their final products to fall short of expectation. With Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, the studio offered a bleak and flawed interpretation of DC’s iconic heroes. Given the film’s lack of universal acclaim, Warner Brothers spent the months leading up to their next venture assuring audiences that the next addition to the DC universe would set things right.
Spoiler Alert: It doesn’t.
In the supposedly oversaturated genre of superhero films, Suicide Squad has a unique premise. The film revolves around a group of villains forced by the US government to do good. By giving villains the spotlight usually reserved for heroes, Suicide Squad has the time to explore “the bad guys” in a way no other superhero movie can. As fans of these characters also know, the squad members don’t have hearts of gold. They are selfish, lethal and crazy enough to make a story highly entertaining.
Yet, the film never takes advantage of this. Suicide Squad spends its first thirty minutes setting up the premise, despite the fact that it only took the trailers a minute to do so. It is not until the halfway mark that the squad members meet for the first time and they only go on one subpar mission to save a city from a villain that is ironically underdeveloped. Films with an ensemble cast often run the risk of mismanaging their characters, each having to fight for screen time. However, Suicide Squad’s inability to manage its time has less to do with its characters and more to do with its awkward pacing, edits and weak script.
Emotional beats and scenes meant to emphasize the squad’s bond feel artificial due to the fact that no time is spent developing the chemistry and relationships between the characters. The film seems to forget that the characters only just met, causing these interactions to feel unearned. With so many plot and character issues, it is no surprise that Suicide Squad does not manage to pull off its most difficult task: introducing the world to the relationship of Harley Quinn and the Joker.
Margot Robbie’s Harley is a standout.
Jared Leto’s Joker is not.
It quickly becomes obvious that the Joker is not needed in this film. At most, he should only be featured when Harley’s origins are explored. His presence is a detriment not only to Harley’s character growth but also to the film overall because he takes up time it desperately needs. Jared Leto’s performance is forgettable and brings to life a Joker that is surprisingly not terrifying. More importantly, the film does the one thing no one should ever do to Harley Quinn and the Joker’s relationship: romanticize it. The toxicity of their relationship takes a backseat to the Joker’s evident devotion to Harley, a devotion that is nonexistent in every other iteration of their relationship.
From a visual standpoint, Suicide Squad succeeds in creating several incredible shots. At times, the film feels like a comic book come to life. However, the visuals don’t save the film from its somewhat disappointing action. Some sequences are filled with close ups of each character’s face, preventing audiences from seeing the action taking place. What we do see is promising but we don’t get enough of it.
There are moments of magic throughout Suicide Squad that almost make the viewing experience worthwhile. Will Smith, Viola Davis and the cast overall give solid performances and make the most out of what they are given. Although some dialogue is excruciatingly bad, there are some lines that are perfectly in tune with their character. If you love these characters, there are things in the movie that will have you squirming in your seat with excitement. These moments reflect the potential of Suicide Squad and what it could have been had the story been more polished. Nonetheless, audiences are quickly reminded of everything wrong with the film when the film’s off-putting music cues start to drown out dialogue.
For general audiences, Suicide Squad is another blockbuster disaster that is not worth the price of admission. For DC fans like myself, it is another mishit that we will likely forget during the hype leading up to the next DC film. Now, excuse me while I go pray to Hera and Gaia to ensure Wonder Woman’s success.
Suicide Squad was released August 5, 2016.