suicide queck

This one works as punishment!

Nice job, Mistah J.

Nice job, Mistah J.

DC and Warner Bros. resume the Cinematic Universe they’ve hastily introduced via such films as Man of Steel and Batman v Superman with Suicide Squad, a movie that’s basically a crossover for some of Batman’s most famous enemies. You’d better be a fan of the comics if you’re gonna see this because there’s no previous movie that introduces any of these bad guys individually (or at least these versions). This isn’t the Marvel Cinematic Universe. In the world of DC, we start with the crossovers.

Margot Robbie as Harley Quinn.

Margot Robbie as Harley Quinn.

It’s true that Suicide Squad refrains from being as overly gritty as the last two DC films. Sure is has a dark visual style, although a comparatively more colorful one at that, but it has much more of a tongue-in-cheek attitude than previous films. It doesn’t make it good or better than the Marvel movies, however, and since much of the comedy and color is something they added hurriedly in re-shoots and re-edits after finally getting the message critics have been trying to get across since the first BvS trailer, the finished film is a jumbled piece to say the least.

Batman’s Rogues Gallery, as his collection of villains is most often called, is brought together by a shady government worker played by Viola Davis, who issues commands for them. The members of her new squad include a talented marksman known as Deadshot (Will Smith), a reptilian-looking cannibal called Croc (Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje), an assassin intimidatingly named Boomerang (Jai Courtney), an inked-up pyrokinetic called El Diablo (Jay Hernandez), a mercenary who goes by Slipknot (Adam Beach), and of course the nutty Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie), a fan-favorite who’s basically The Joker’s semi-girlfriend and much smarter than her crazy bimbo persona would have you think. Usually, that is; this time she’s mostly used for sex appeal and weird fetish scenes.

The Squad is used by the government for several risky missions and loud action sequences, eventually leading us to a climax that involves a swirling portal in the heavens (Lord knows we haven’t seen that in a Hollywood blockbuster yet) and a few quick cameos from Ben Affleck‘s Batman. As much I still enjoy Bat-fleck, I miss the time when seeing Batman on-screen wasn’t equivalent to a cringe-inducing flashback.

These aren’t the only recognizable characters we meet, though. There’s also the Suicide Squad’s field leader played by Joel Kinnaman, a pointless samurai played by Karen Fukuhara because of course the only Asian woman in the film wields a katana, Cara Delevingne as a researcher possessed by an immortal Enchantress (look, just go with it), and last but not least, Jared Leto‘s Joker. Sit down and exhale, geek friends. He’s not in this film as much as advertised.

suidoobleI was never entirely on board with Jared Leto as The Joker. The promotional stills didn’t do much to impress me and the thing about The Joker is that every incarnation thus far (Hamill, Romero, Nicholson, Ledger, you name it) has had their own unique style but with the core idea basically intact. With Leto, it seems like he’s just doing an impression of Heath Ledger‘s voice, without the same intriguing personality, and his appearance is the only thing that makes him unique. His alleged “in-character” behavior on the set didn’t do much for me either, instead bringing to mind a 12-year-old boy trying way too hard to be edgy.

In fact, that’s the reputation the film seemed to be getting in some of my Internet circuits early on; that it’s basically a wet dream for neo-goths who won’t rest until the world knows how “twisted” their senses of humor are and how “non-conformist” their sense of fashion is (see also what this film did for the sales figures at Hot Topic). The abundance of tattoos on the Joker’s body and Harley Quinn’s jokes about being a psycho have done very little to make matters better.

Now that the movie’s out, the consensus is somewhat different. The agreement appears to be that Suicide Squad is about as much a structurally incompetent mess as Batman v Superman, except with re-shoots done at the last minute to ensure that this one at least occasionally emulates a comedy and isn’t just another over-grim glum-fest with no levity. Dear DC and Warner Bros., I speak on behalf of everyone except the pissy DC fanboys (who, I shit you not, recently petitioned for Rotten Tomatoes to be closed down after its critics panned every recent DC flick because bad movies are the critics’ fault apparently) when I say I don’t think the solution was to throw in humor in random places after the film was already done. It kinda makes it sloppy and borderline unwatchable in the end.

But sure, the critics are still at fault for being biased against your misunderstood masterpieces and David Ayer is just miles ahead of us all in his knowledge of how to adapt a comic book. “You can call it Granny’s peach tea”, and so on.

squad goals

From left to right: Harley, Croc, Katana, Rick Flag, Deadshot and… Boomerang?

As for me, I agree with majority of the complaints. Suicide Squad is very much indeed an overstuffed film with only a select few amusing characters (my favorite is probably Killer Croc), an endlessly distracting soundtrack, editing so obnoxious it hurts, underwhelming performances (I was hardly alone in hoping for a better Harley Quinn), dim lighting, ludicrous lines of dialogue, generic visual effects, maddening pacing, and a mostly disappointing chemistry between all these A-list actors. Will Smith had his moments but hoo boy do I feel sorry for him. This is the man who (presumably) abandoned Independence Day: Resurgence because 2013’s iconic disaster After Earth didn’t do him a lot of good when it comes to appearing in science fiction. I wonder if he’ll say yes to more comic book movies after Suicide Squad.

I wasn’t sure which trailer to post; the one that tries to be like Age of Ultron with its ominous singing child voice or the one that tries to be like Guardians of the Galaxy with its classic rock music. I’ll just embed both since I think it’s fun to leave people guessing what tone this movie’s supposed to have. It’s not like the filmmakers knew.

1/5 whatever