When it comes to comic book movies, this summer has been all about heroes going head to head. First, we saw the Avengers divided as Iron Man and Captain America went head to head in ‘Captain America: Civil War’. Then, the Dark Knight and the Man of Steel squared off in ‘Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice’. Now, thanks to ‘Suicide Squad’, ScienceFiction.com has their own battle raging between movie reviewers. Earlier this week, my esteemed colleague Dave Taylor offered his take on the latest film in the DC Cinematic Universe. And though he’s certainly entitled to his opinion, there’s very little that I agree with in his analysis.
First, Dave’s review doesn’t touch on the plot of David Ayer’s latest film. While that certainly has something to do with keeping spoilers at bay, I feel that the larger reason is that there isn’t much plot to speak of in the first place. Over half of the movie is dominated by exposition. When we finally get down to the real mission at hand, the plot is so paper thin that it doesn’t make much sense if any at all. Considering the cameos in the movie, ‘Suicide Squad’ falls apart when you try to apply any sort of rhyme, reason, or common sense to it. Basically, it was an excuse to get these characters together to be badass and blow shit up for two hours.
In addition to the extensive exposition, the film is also riddled with problems regarding pacing and style. The extensive reshoots following ‘Dawn of Justice’ could have had a lot to do with it, but ‘Suicide Squad’ didn’t feel as cohesive as it might have once been. Like the various trailers released for this movie, it didn’t feel like the same movie throughout. To me, Ayer took three different movies and mashed them together with only a fractional amount of success. And two of those movies were ‘Deadpool’ and ‘Guardians of the Galaxy’.
Speaking of those fan favorite Marvel movies, they came to be known for their amazing soundtracks. My co-worker praises the ‘Suicide Squad’ soundtrack as splendid, but I find it to be cluttered and distracting. On their own, I like each of the songs that pop up in the movie. In fact, if you add a few ‘Hamilton’ songs and more pop-punk in there, the soundtrack is pretty much what it would sound like if you put my iPod on shuffle. But when they’re applied to this story, it’s just rapid fire popular song after popular song and they all lose the impact that they were meant to have. Instead of fitting into a narrative, these moments felt like mini trailers strung together with a bit too much slow motion and ‘Thor: The Dark World’-level repetition (in case you forgot how crazy Harley Quinn can be or how dangerous Deadshot is).
Moving on to the characters themselves, I will agree with Dave’s thoughts on El Diablo and Amanda Waller. Jay Hernandez’s character was the emotional center of the film. It almost reminded me of ‘Wreck-It Ralph’ since El Diablo is clearly a bad guy, but not necessarily a BAD guy, if you get my drift. And Viola Davis’ Waller might have been the biggest boss of them all. As cut-throat and cold-blooded as the rest of Task Force X is, she really trumps them all in her own way. In conjunction with Will Smith’s portrayal of Floyd Lawton and the thankfully small bursts of Jai Courtney as Captain Boomerang (which is meant as a shot at the actor, not the character), the cast is pretty much the saving grace that made ‘Suicide Squad’ somewhat enjoyable. And when I say the cast, I mean Jared Leto’s Joker as well.
There have been some legendary versions of the Clown Prince of Crime over the years. Many consider Mark Hamill’s iteration from ‘Batman: The Animated Series’ to be the definitive one, but when it comes to live-action, people are quick to mention Heath Ledger’s take from ‘The Dark Knight’. While Leto doesn’t compare to either of them, I wouldn’t say that he did a bad job. Dave said that he didn’t deliver, but I wanted more of Leto’s Joker. Obviously, we couldn’t have had too much since he would have overshadowed the Suicide Squad. And despite looking absolutely ridiculous with those tattoos, he was a nice mix of a psychopath and a gangster. I’d even go so far to say that he is an evolution of Jack Nicholson’s character from Tim Burton’s ‘Batman’ from 1989. This Joker is a modern day crime kingpin with a comic book spin that fits very well into this universe that DC and WB are trying to build. I can’t wait to see what’s next for this version of one of the all-time great villains.
At the end of the day, the best thing that I can say about ‘Suicide Squad’ is that it’s the best movie in the DC Cinematic Universe so far. But keep in mind, the other films under that banner up to this point are ‘Man of Steel’ and ‘Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice’, so that’s not really saying much. Well worth the price of admission? Hardly. Though it was enjoyable to see all the explosions and brutal fight scenes that you don’t really get with your average superhero movie, this was just a bad movie with some redeeming qualities at the end of the day. It’s basically a few steps above one of Michael Bay’s horrendous ‘Transformers’ movies.
But with that being said, ‘Suicide Squad’ is going to make a lot of money. It already has and it will continue to do so. Some people are probably only going to see it to see if it’s really as bad as critics are saying it is. It’s just a shame that all those people will dish out all that money to see a subpar movie. Although, it’s a subpar movie that’s a step in the right direction for DC and their shared movie universe. They’re finally letting their characters have a bit more fun on the big screen. Sure, ground it in reality, but a comic book movie should still be fun. Now they just need to work on the quality of the stories that they’re telling.
Oh, and they need to give us more of Karen Fukuhara as Katana. No character that awesomely badass should have so little to do.