I couldn’t even find a way to begin this review with my usual “Hey, y’all!”, so just let me start by saying that when I was young(er), my personal superhero is Superman, and I didn’t care for anything Marvel. So it goes without saying that I was really stoked when the first Superman movie of the current DC Cinematic Universe, Man of Steel, was about to be released. That final theatrical trailer was more than enough to keep me soaring with expectations I’ve never had on any superhero film. Having said that, you can just imagine how flat I fell on my face after seeing it. Okay, maybe I pretended to have liked it for a little while and denied that I didn’t like it, but that wore off quite quickly. The more I watched it, the more I disliked it. So when Batman V Superman came out, I was cautious not to be carried away by the trailers. In fact, I didn’t really clamor to see it as soon as possible. After watching it, I was like, “I knew it!” Good for me, right? At least I wasn’t as disappointed as the first time, but that’s because I’m ready. Not because it was better. Not because it was good.
Enter Suicide Squad. I thought that this has got to break the ice. DC needs it to. They can’t go 0 for 3. This has to work for the DCCU to sell further. This has to steer DC back into the right direction. This has to be the one that could make fans say, “Finally, a DC movie that we deserve, and the one we need right now”. The premise was great. The marketing was off the chain. The trailers were fun. And for a good amount of time, things are looking up for this movie. There is finally hope!
And then I saw it.
Before I watched, I had hopes to write a really positive review for the movie. In fact I came to see a midnight screening after I had 11 hours of work. That’s how excited I was. After seeing it, I just wanted to write this to get it off my chest. Was it that bad? No, not in my opinion, but I did roll my eyes one too many times.
That said, there’s a few things I can say I liked about the film, and one of them just might be the movie’s biggest selling point – Margot Robbie’s Harley Quinn. You’ve seen the trailers, you drooled at the posters, and at least this much, I can tell that she will not disappoint. In fact, she owns every scene she’s in. To my taste, she has been used quite adequately throughout the movie, and her crazy/beautiful combo works every single time. As expected, she delivered most of the films shtick, and even by her own admission that she’s “known to be quite vexing”, I just couldn’t take my eyes off her. Suffice it to say, even with her screen time, I feel like the movie needed more of her.
Will Smith’s Deadshot isn’t all that bad too. There’s actually an Equilibrium-sort of gun action on one of the scenes and I find that to be really engaging (and funny at the same time). He did show off his skills in an I-got-this fashion that stunned everyone else in the same scene, and the audience too. It’s worth looking out for.
Jai Courtney’s Boomerang worked well too. In fact, I think he was the one who showed the bad out of the bad ones, and I thought that was the theme all throughout. He sort of gave his performance a Jon Bernthal-intensity vibe, and I thought that worked well for the character. I mean I didn’t know how it was in the comic books but to me, how he was in the movie should at least be how most of the squad have to be to emphasize that they’re the worst of the worst criminals.
Being that this is in the same universe as the upcoming Justice League film, it is just inevitable that there’s going to be “surprising” cameos. The good thing is, the cameos in this movie were never “oh, I’m so cool, I’m doing a cameo in this movie, and I’m about to have my own movie too, so yeah I’m cool, isn’t it the coolest to see me?”, like the ones on Batman v Superman. So in that sense, it didn’t distract a lot from the story, and it kept moving forward.
What didn’t work?
Uhm, duh? For a movie that boasts of the baddest of the bad, these criminals were just full of heart. I hated that! I wanted to see them nuke it out for a bit, outsmart their handlers for a while, do crazy stuff– bad stuff. But you know, almost all of them wanted to be good even before they were forced to do it. Viola Davis’ character is better off recruiting some REAL baddies from Orange Is The New Black! I mean, sure, they showed off a little bit of background for each of the members of the squad (which I will get to in a minute), but man, as soon as they hit the ground outside the bars, they go soft. If you’re telling me that these are the men that could be anyone’s worst nightmare, then you’ll have better chance teaching them how to dance to the tune of Men In Black, than saving the world from annihilation. For once, if you mean bad, then give us BAD.
Another thing, the story didn’t spare a second to introduce the squad. Was that bad? No. But you know, introduce Deadshot for 5 minutes maybe, and another 5 for Harley, then speed through all the rest within 1 minute? Ugh. I don’t need to be told who you paid the most to make this movie. Give your audience a story. Not everyone read the comic books (or was there a comic book for this?). I know it’s so un-geeky of me to say, but to be honest, the folks who would meet this characters for the first time will definitely outnumber those who have knee-deep knowledge about them.
I’ll probably take a lot of flak for saying this but do we really need the Joker in this story? I mean you could easily take out his part and it would still be the same movie. Don’t get me wrong, Jared Leto was great as the Joker, but it felt like an out-of-place character in this movie. Plus, he’s great and all, but I thought that there’s an itsy-bitsy obvious show of effort to out-Joker Heath Ledger, even though the portrayal could not be anymore different. It’s kind of distracting for whenever he’s on-screen. Or maybe it was just me still geeking out on Heath’s Joker. Either way, dispensable character in my opinion. It feels like Joker’s in the story just for the sake of having him in the story.
Apart from these, I couldn’t find a way to empathize with Rick Flagg. I just couldn’t. No matter how important his role is to the team, I just couldn’t elevate him from all the other characters in the background. And for someone who has a reputation for putting a team together, he’s just lame. Couldn’t even save himself without the squad rescuing him a couple of times.
Ugh! Jay Hernandez’s Diablo could’ve been such a badass, instead he went on full-emo, bent on getting redemption. Oh, and he’s particularly eager to just say exactly what he’s about to do, spelling it out to the audience, instead of, you know, flaming on when needed.
All of that said, the story just didn’t make sense to me. Why the government had to create the Suicide Squad couldn’t be anymore vague. It didn’t seem urgent, it didn’t seem to me that they have no other choice, and quite frankly, it just seemed to me as if some lady just thought it’d be cool to assemble the worst so they can throw them under the bus if it didn’t work. It has such a muddled plot that it is so easy to get lost on what they are doing and why they are doing it. It doesn’t feel like there’s a real threat, and it just gets more predictable as it goes, I just couldn’t avoid shaking my head. If you wanted to shake your head some more, then just wait for the mid-credits scene. You’ll probably lash out, “YES, I KNOW!!!”
And the villain? For now all I can say is wow. It doesn’t require not knowing the character to feel lost or disappointed. You’re better off watching the latest Independence Day movie, and I didn’t even particularly liked that one.
Hit or Miss?
I really hoped to like this film, I really did. And as much as I was really cautious watching trailers and reading articles to ensure I didn’t set expectations for this movie, I am still very disappointed. The worst part is it has a talented cast but very poorly written supporting characters. It did have a big potential for being a great movie. The re-shoots after BvS was to me a sign that DC is learning from their mistakes, and it did give a semblance of hope coming into this film, But alas, if it was worse before they did the re-shoots, then what did they have? This whole DCCU now gets me worried, and I’ll definitely be more cautious with the next slew of films to prevent further disappointments. I will still see the upcoming movies, because frankly, I still want to be surprised. I know now how I will approach Wonder Woman. I know now how to prepare for Justice League. It’s just really saddening because you know, it would have been nice to live in an era where both Marvel and DC are doing so good in developing their own cinematic universes. I guess we’ll have to make do with just Marvel.
Have you seen Suicide Squad? What are your thoughts about it? Sound off at the comments section and challenge me.