Suicide Squad (2016)
D/W: David Ayer. DP: Roman Wasyanov. Starring: Will Smith/Margot Robbie/Viola Davis/Jared Leto/Cara Delevigne/Joel Kinnaman/Jai Courtney/Jay Hernandez/Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje/Scott Eastwood/Adam Beach.
If you have not been bombarded by the marketing campaign that was the lead up to Suicide Squad I want a holiday to where you live. Psychedelic posters galore there were some smart moves within the campaign. However, overall it was a fatiguing lead up to film that did not deliver creatively and brought to light more issues in the comic book film universe.
Suicide Squad immediately suffers as it has three beginnings. The film attempts to introduce you immediately to characters you might not know organically. This opening features a great intro of Harley Quinn (The Legend of Tarzan and The Wolf of Wall Street‘s Margot Robbie) with the only bit of timed soundtrack I actually enjoyed. But then the film moves on to again introduce more of the group through a standard ‘one character briefs another on what is going on.’ In this case it is the superb Viola Davis as Amanda Waller, organizer of the ‘use the crazy to save the world project.’ Davis will end up being the saving performance of the film. Yet then again Davis goes on to brief a panel of government suited men about this project. Make a decision already!
This poor editing and flow is symptomatic of the film as whole. The use of recognizable music tracks routinely jars the narrative and suggests the film was made more for the trailers than the other way round. But who is at fault? Director David Ayer was an interesting choice for this project as his last film was the war tank Fury starring Brad Pitt. Ayer again uses young cinematographer Roman Wasyanov who shot Fury. There are some fun visual moments, but nothing that weeks later I am still remembering. Ayer also wrote the script and seems to come at it with little to no humor that isn’t at the expense of Harley Quinn, what a crazy lady she is. Sadly the DC Comics world feels heavy and serious next to the Avengers world from Marvel. Some characters also hardly have lines enough to help the film. Making one wonder if this could have different in lighter hands.
Ben Affleck’s dreary Batman makes a few appearances in Suicide Squad. Forcing us all to remember the time we wasted watching Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice. Will Smith’s Deadshot is given the most screen time, presumably because if you are going to pay for Will Smith then you will use him as much as you can so he’ll do the film. The only interesting performance is probably Robbie’s Harley Quinn. Stirring up controversy about her mini shorts, she has a few moments that unearth where her performance could have gone. Quinn is never given the time for her backstory and appears to incoherently fall in love with The Joker (Jared Leto) to the point of no return. I found that more offensive than her hot pants. Leto’s Joker, much covered in the press, is a gangster sleaze who at least looks different than previous incarnations. Yet there is simply not enough time to care about a romance that is used as the catalyst for action.
Same goes for the manipulated romance of the other couple. Joel Kinnaman (Robocop) has yet to win a part that comes close to his detective in AMC’s The Killing, but I refuse to give up on him just yet. His Rick Flag (oh that name) is the narrative cheerleader of this film and he surely gives it his best. Model turned actress Cara Delevigne (Paper Towns) is visually stunning when all wispy and made up as the Enchantress, but her despair at the human condition of the modern world is nothing original. Suicide Squad is an excellent example of a film without a coherent concept. Without established characters to care about their mission falls flat and their relationships lack impact. A story maybe better suited for a limited run series where the grittier elements can be explored. Yet ultimately there is just too much noise and mess in a film that appears edited for stylized soundbites rather than story.