REVIEW – Suicide Squad? Maybe Squander Squad

Definitely not the worst movie of the year, but for the love of Pete, WB: your bromance with Zack Snyder needs to end.

For those of us needing a brush-up on our Suicide Squad plot, here’s how it goes: the nastiest, worst, most terrible criminals known to the U.S. Government are rounded up. They’re considered disposable goods, so, they’re considered the best candidates for missions where they have a slim-to-none chance of coming out alive.

In this film, each character seems to have their own reasons for participating. For assassin-for-hire Deadshot (Will Smith), he’s in it to see his daughter. For Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie), it’s a chance to bust out of prison – minus a lot of the work – and be reunited with her ‘Puddin,’ The Joker (Jared Leto). Then there are some characters who don’t want to be there, like El Diablo (Jay Hernandez), who believes he’s better off locked up. However, he still ends up forced into the fray.

And then there are some who hang out in the background, like Captain Boomerang (Jai Courtney), Killer Croc (Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje), and Slipknot (Adam Beach). There’s also Katana (Karen Fukuhara) and Colonel Rick Flagg (Joel Kinnaman), who are attempting to watch the front line situation for Amanda Waller (Viola Davis), the government official who put the squad together.

Initially, I attempted to avoid all reviews (to the best of my abilities) before heading into the theatre to watch the movie. That didn’t work out so well (news people can only avoid so many kinds of current events before it ends up in their lap), and I unfortunately ran into Facebook posts, review headlines, and tweets that acted as a PSA, attempting to raise awareness of how crappy the film was; some of these even going as far as to say that this film was worse than Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Just Shit– I mean Justice. 

Time out.

First of all, this wasn’t the biggest steaming pile of poo from DC this year. That honour still, 100%, belongs to Dawn of Justice. It’s no contest. Yes, there are shades of writing and production behaviour we saw in Dawn of Justice, but they are shades – they are not carbon copies. The movie definitely felt longer than it needed to. The beginning scenes where we’re getting to know the handful of Squad members is a little long. I would have appreciated shorter backstories knitted in throughout the film, and not a 20-minute debriefing on the major squad members.

And yes, I thought some of the story choices were laughable. I didn’t want to see a few themes that looked to be plucked haphazardly from The Notebook. There’s a fine line between psychopathic obsession and love, especially where this comic book is concerned. I also didn’t sign up to watch Sleeping Beauty or Snow White. I didn’t appreciate that, right off the bat, the film told me which characters I needed to care about, and which ones you could take a pass on.

Everyone’s been going on about the Joker, and how he had very little time in the film. Were you here to see the Joker, or were you here to see the Squad? In the comics and graphic novels I’ve read, he’s often cited as a thorn in the side of some of the group (well, except for Harley Quinn, and, in the relatively new imaginings, the Joker’s Daughter, but that discussion is for another day) – which, in my opinion, means he’s an afterthought. For me, I had a great rout of the Joker, and I’m glad he only appeared as much as he did.

Certainly the standouts were Robbie and Smith as Quinn and Deadshot, respectively. Deadshot for me was more dynamic than I remembered in the comics; Quinn was a mixed bag. On the one hand, I appreciated her insanity. On the other hand, I was annoyed with how many fan service shots of her there were in the film! After leaving the theatre, I have a pretty solid idea of what the woman’s butt looks like, and what colour her spanky pants were. That was absolutely unnecessary. Viola Davis crushed her role; she was the kind of character who stated her dominance early on. The Enchantress (Cara Delevigne) was so insipid, for all of the hype, darkness, and apparent power she seemed to command in the first bit of the film. Then, the character just gets lazy.

And yet, for all of its missed steps, some of the awkward points, and a few questionable ‘I-feel-like-I’m-walking-in-circles’ moments, this is not a horrible movie. I enjoyed more of the back half (though there were some points in the final showdown when I was like, “are they really doing this?”), and I also enjoyed some of the dialogue. I suspect the reshoots were for some of that dialogue, but it’s hard to say what did and didn’t work for reshoots because I don’t have the details about what was reshot. Could the crew have done better? Sure. Could they have done worse? Yep. This is nothing to write home about, but it’s certainly worth seeing if you’re a fan of the comic books.

The big question: does this improve Warner Brothers efforts in the superhero category – is it enough to put them past team Marvel/Disney? It’s a tiny drop in the bucket, but, overall, the answer is no. I’m a big advocate for getting Zack Snyder to stop leaving his stupid fingerprints on everything. He didn’t direct this film, but has an executive producer credit on it (David Ayer directed). WB, I’m telling you – enough is enough. Snip the strings with Snyder if you want the franchise to go somewhere that isn’t a downward spiral. You have a jump start – now let’s get the engine revving, and get the Snyder pollutant out of there!

Regardless, (just barely) three squad goals out of five.

Check out the trailer below!

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