Review | Suicide Squad
Picture the scene: David Ayer is pitching his idea for Suicide Squad at the Warner Bros headquarters, frantically throwing ideas together from a badly drawn together notebook. He triumphantly points to a line in the script, one that is uttered after a male character punches a female in the face, that reads "she had a mouth." "HILARIOUS RIGHT?!" Ayer shrieks unable to control his laughter as the members of Warner Bros look at each other nervously. This whole analogy basically sums up the sheer disappointment of Suicide Squad and makes me question the future of DC's planned extended universe.
The plot, a term I'm using VERY VERY loosely, follows bad-ass Amanda Waller (played flawlessly by Viola Davis) recruiting a team of well known super-villains such as Deadshot (Will Smith), Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie) and others (literally they're not even worth mentioning because of how little screen time they have) to save the world from an ancient sorceress known only as Enchantress (Cara Delevigne). And that's it. Oh and Joker pops up near the end. The plot is so incredibly wafer thin you never really get a sense of what the hell is going on, you feel about as clueless as the characters walking into Midtown.
Now, I'm aware of how savagely critics have been tearing into the film and I honestly did walk into the cinema with an incredibly open mind, and as much as I didn't think the film was horrendously bad, it was a very very poorly made one. The pacing and tonal shifts are so frustratingly jarring and quick, you never feel like you're watching scenes, rather than video-game cut-scenes or trailers. The opening half hour should have been essential in giving the characters enough time to establish themselves and their back story, to which I would have happily enjoyed a film of origin stories for each member to set up something bigger. At least then we would have got decent character development. Harley and Joker's story speeds along with such fury in flashback form you never really know what's happening. Plus, if you weren't familiar with the comics, you wouldn't have had a CLUE on how Harley becomes the way she is as the flashbacks are so inconsistent in tone and lack any explanation. It's just so messy and confusing. Even the soundtrack feels horribly out of place, jumping from one song to the next, it became more intrusive than anything else.
Furthermore, considering the film is about a 'Squad', only Harley and Deadshot are given most of the screen time, heck, even Harley isn't allowed to steal the show with Margot Robbie's excellent performance. Killer Croc, Captain Boomerang, El Diablo and Katana are given next to no lines or any form of a back story except to stand around and look a little moody. Which makes it questionable when El Diablo proudly states "I've lost one family, I'm not going to lose another", YOU'VE NOT SAID A WORD TO EACH OTHER AND YET YOU'RE FAMILY?! It's just lazy writing, affirming the theory that the script was written in under six weeks. Dialogue is cheap, lazy or just downright ridiculous at times. Like would an ancient sorceress really say "You don't have the balls"?
Something that really bothered me throughout the film though, and I don't think I can actually forgive Ayer for this, is how riddled the film is with misogyny. Batman (Ben Affleck, I KNOW right?) gives weirdly sexual mouth-to-mouth with Harley then punches her in the face once she is conscious, Harley is just a walking sex object with no other purpose than to depend on the Joker, and is even given a dream-sequence where is she is married, with children and even has rollers in her hair. Oh and she's in a kitchen. All she needs is to be making a sandwich and we'd be back in the 1950s, right Mr Ayer? It just devalues everything Harley's character is supposed to be and left a very horrible impression.
You'd think I hated the film, but there were moments I did enjoy. There were some, SOME, funny moments which earned a chuckle but nothing that warranted a belting laugh out loud. As much as Cara Delevine's acting is choppy to say the least, I did enjoy her characterization as primitive Enchantress. The standout, was undoubtedly, Viola Davis's Amanda Waller. Her icy demeanour and cruelty was pitch perfect and was the perfect antithesis to the objectified women in the rest of the film. Also any scene with Robbie's Harley and Jared Leto's Joker was such a treat. Robbie nails the character, with every line, her physicality, her laugh. She gripped my attention every time she was on screen and I wanted more, it's just shame I never got it. It's just such a shame that these moments were too far few and between, as over half an hour's worth of scenes were supposedly cut in the final film. Leto's performance of Joker was impressive, considering he's following Heath Ledger, but due to his lack of screen-time I wasn't fully able to see what he could do with the character or how far he could go, to which I'm hoping he can show in a future instalment. The brief snippets of other characters in the DC universe and the mid-credits scene were mildly entertaining, but one feels that DC is just rushing to create this whole extended universe rather than think carefully about the films it's releasing. I'm not pitting DC against Marvel in any way, but Marvel have had a ten year gap ahead of DC, and more time to make a well crafted film. Warner Bros should just have a nice sit down and re-evaluate their upcoming schedule.
While lighter in tone than the dreadful Batman vs. Superman, Suicide Squad is just a convoluted mess of ideas and underdeveloped characters that suffer from a lazy script and poor editing. It's a shame that performances from Margot Robbie and Viola Davis are so severely undercut by Ayer's direction and unacceptable use of misogyny, for that, HE'S the real bad guy in this.