August 10, 2016 by bck1402
Stars Will Smith, Joel Kinnaman, Margot Robbie, Cara Delevingne, Common, Jay Hernandez, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, Jai Courtney, Scott Eastwood, Karen Fukuhara with Jared Leto and Viola Davis
Directed by David Ayer
“I made the movie for real people who live in the real world. I made the movie for people who actually love movies and go and see movies.” – director David Ayer.
For as much as every director wants to claim this, it really comes down to the person viewing the movie. Everyone has their own opinion, some may agree with one general viewpoint – or not – but a movie is a sum of its parts; some good and some bad. Movies that get 5-star ratings in those books that rate movies, usually obtain them in hindsight. The fan-love for Suicide Squad is almost a counterpoint to the fan-hate of the recent Ghostbusters remake, as in there are pockets ready to love and defend this movie as there were those ready to hate and destroy the other, regardless of what the overall opinion of critics may be.
Movies, like all works of art, are open to criticism. It’s not to say that critics are more seasoned at this, most are. It’s quite likely they’ve seen every other movie that has been made (it’s their job after all) so their perspective on movies often result on analysis beyond a movie simply providing plain entertainment value.
For the record, I’ve seen Suicide Squad twice now. Even with decades of movie love, it was hard to ignore to problems there were with the movie. My brain was, perhaps, trying to reconcile what I knew of the characters with what I knew of the director and the particular genre the movie had adopted in its adaptation. Even Ayer had name-checked The Dirty Dozen, but in this case, with this colourful bunch of characters, it seemed a bit of a waste that most of the time, it came down to firearms. Even without falling back to the comic book counterparts of these characters, the next comparison baseline would be the Arrow / Flash TV series where we’ve already had Captain Boomerang, Deadshot, Amanda Waller and their version of the Suicide Squad, and they pulled off a far more intriguing team there.
With the second viewing, however, putting all the problems out of mind and just trying to take in the movie as it was, I found it quite entertaining, but there was a different set of problems that contradicted the issues on the first viewing. I enjoyed the little vignettes that introduced the few characters at the beginning, each with their own song, on the first viewing, and I know some fans have issues with this. While it was effective in way of introducing the characters and building the world they inhabit, their personal and often colourful vignettes are in high contrast to the grounded realism the rest of the movie adopts during the ‘mission’. This is, however, in line with the rest of the extended DC cinematic universe thus far. On the second viewing, the Waller interludes really felt like blatant exposition (necessary as it was, in this case).
The other problem has been the marketing. The trailers and colourful posters have been trying to sell a different kind of movie, almost hinting at the Joker being a bigger villain than just a distraction throughout the movie (oh, spoilers?) not to mention the disparity of scenes within the trailer to the final product. Not too sure if this was the results of the reshoots or just a different editing choice in the end. Some of the cooler dialogue pieces or character snapshots in the trailers are missing from the film, which again, creates a disparate tone between what was marketed and what we got.
Aside from the bigger main stars, it almost feels like some of the secondary characters are there to be name-checked rather than serve a real purpose. Captain Boomerang in particular doesn’t really do anything beyond being (as my friend put it) a “belligerent drunk Aussie”; Katana’s soul-sucking sword seemed much ado about nothing there; while Killer Croc’s big moment happened in dark murky waters that made it difficult to see what was going on; the less said about Slipknot…
Taking the characters as completely new without any connection to their comic or cartoon counterparts, the stars do okay. Sure Will Smith is headlining and his Deadshot gets a little more to do and carry a more emotional storyline- a daughter he hopes to be a better father to, despite stating that love has no place in his life. Smith has an easy back and forth with Margot Robbie’s Harley, likely carried forward from their last big-con movie, Focus. Robbie does well enough in trying to capture the sense and manic madness of Harley, down to the vocal inflections, although being a live-action cartoon in this action flick, again, raises the contrasting tones within the film. Joel Kinnaman and Viola Davis come across as such hard-core ‘patriotic’ soldiers that it’s hard to even sympathise with their characters, particularly when certain civilian lives are considered irrelevant in certain given situations. Davis’ Amanda Waller comes off as much colder, crueller and more vicious than the hardcore villains that make up the squad. This results in a lack of ‘good guys’ you want to believe in, and that includes members of the squad, although to be fair, there are one or two you can sympathise with to an extent.
Ayer’s direction leans towards the realism he’s infused in his previous movies, be it with writing or directing, but in the heightened world of the extended cinematic DCU on display (following Man of Steel and Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, the latter being referenced here and there throughout the movie), the fog of war gives us some murky visuals during the firefights and video-game CGI effects, made worse in a 3D presentation as the screen gets typically darker once those glasses are put on.
Ayer’s statement above is odd. “Real people in the real world…” as far as I know are people who usually don’t have time for movies and would rather catch such movies over TV or cable. “People who actually love movies…” are the critics who are savaging the movie. However, the general audience who are likely to “go and see the movie” without a care of production values or story structure are the ones who would get that visceral knee-jerk reaction that would cycle between only ‘love it’ or ‘hate it’ and likely tweet about it first. I suppose his ‘real people’ might fit into this category too.
Putting the issues aside, this is the kind of movie that would do well on a smaller screen where certain failings can be easily forgiven; how else would one explain the relative success of the ongoing Sharknado franchise? Plus, there is a fairly entertaining movie here. There is a sense of world building aimed at a movie-goer who is less familiar with these characters, but who has at least seen one Batman or Superman movie, preferably the last two in this extended cinematic DCU. Die-hard fans may cry over the representation of these characters while others may cheer their appearances and nods to iconic comic book imagery. Action fans are best served, especially once the squad comes together and the skirmishes begin, but still, no one has a ‘moment’ that truly signifies their unique abilities. Well, maybe Deadshot, only because it’s Will Smith in the role.
Maybe it’s best to view this particular ‘comic-book movie’ as a non-comic-book movie. It sure worked better that way during the second viewing.
Rating: **1/2 / 5 (*** for the Fans)