Friday, August 5, 2016


In storytelling, structure can be everything. Even the best of stories can be derailed if it doesn’t have a solid beginning, middle, and end…and in the meantime create interesting and relatable characters that have something important to do within the story. For writer/director David Ayer’s SUICIDE SQUAD, the third film in Warner Bros’. series of films based on DC Comics super-heroes and villains, those basics go out the window faster than a speeding bullet.

Months after the events of BATMAN V. SUPERMAN: DAWN OF JUSTICE, ruthless U.S. government stooge (job title unknown) Amanda Waller (Viola Davis) and her right-hand man soldier-hero Col. Rick Flag (Joel Kinnaman) look to protect the world by assembling a team of criminals with super-abilities; including the hitman Deadshot (Will Smith), psycho-girl Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie), human flame-thrower Diablo (Jay Hernandez), human-reptile Killer Croc (Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje), Australian master-thief Captain Boomerang (Jai Courtney), and master-swordsman Katana (Tatsu Yamashiro). The Squad sets out on a mission to stop the witch Enchantress (Cara Delevingne) from destroying the world, while avoiding attempts by The Joker (Jared Leto) from kidnapping Harley Quinn.

SUICIDE SQUAD doesn’t have much in the way of plot, as the squad of bad-guys have little to do other than not get killed and stop the bad guy from blowing up the world. Seemingly aware of this, director David Ayer fills the time by introducing backstories to every member of the Squad. Nearly the entire first half-hour is spent rolling out the characters via mini-rock videos and file-folders, and while the backstories are solid and do deliver on making the characters relatable and kind-sorta someone we’d care for, the execution could have been a lot tighter. Some of the stories ramble on for too long, others are blink-and-you’ll-miss-it too fast, and some of the character introductions actually happen twice. There’s a lot of redundancy going on, and the flashbacks continue throughout the run of the movie…often at awkward times. Editing and editing decisions are an issue; watching SUICIDE SQUAD is like driving over miles of speed bumps.

With so much flashback and exposition, it’s hard to tell exactly when the real story of the film even begins. The script lacks a beginning point, and with random scenes popping in and out in odd places, any semblance of structure is lost. A mid-film twist involving Amanda Waller makes no sense whatsoever, but even before that comes the realization that the entire movie relies on circular logic: The Squad is put together to counter the possibility of a super-threat, but it’s the presence of the squad which ignites the super-threat they eventually have to fight. It’s flat-out lazy writing, and the laziness continues in telling us over and over again how the Squad are such bad people, instead of actually letting the movie show it.

Bad guys or good guys, every team needs a strong villain to go up against, and SUICIDE SQUAD completely drops the ball in that area. The Enchantress herself is a fascinating character and looks like she’d be a formidable foe, but the film elects to shove her in the back in place of a large CGI thug-thing with tentacles…topped off by a small army of CGI blobs with no faces and machine guns. The eventual big showdown is a mess of lights and noise, and dips so far into the fantasy genre that it feels mismatched against the Squad of hitmen and bare-knuckle fighters. There isn’t much of a threat, which makes anything that the Squad does completely ho-hum.

Acting is all over the place. Will Smith dominates most of the screen with his presence and charisma. His acting is fine, but he doesn’t come close to feeling like the ruthless killer that the film keeps telling us that Deadshot is supposed to be; it seems not even Will Smith can overcome the Will Smith-charm. Margot Robbie is dazzling as the slightly-unhinged Harley Quinn, and Joel Kinnaman is solid. Jai Courtney shows more life than he ever has on-screen, although his Aussie accent has his lines coming out in mumbles. Viola Davis is perfect as always. The much-hyped return of The Joker to the cinema by Jared Leto is a letdown; the character isn’t in the film enough (roughly seven minutes) to make any kind of impression.

SUICIDE SQUAD is a frustrating film because there are elements here and there that do work; the characters of Harley, Deadshot, and Diablo have great backstories to latch onto, the music selections are fun (although there are way too many rock hits crammed into a short amount of time), and the presence of actual jokes and witty one-liners are a welcome change to the previous mopey adaptations of DC Comics properties. All the good stuff is outweighed by a thin plot, clunky storytelling, an awful villain, and clumsy writing. This is one Squad that should have stayed incarcerated.


No comments:

Post a Comment

A few rules:
1. Personal attacks not tolerated.
2. Haters welcome, if you can justify it.
3. Swearing is goddamn OK.