When will DC learn?
Before I get into the review for David Ayers much anticipated Suicide Squad which premiered last night, I have to share a quick anecdote. Last week, several friends and I purchased our tickets early for the premier screening, and I must admit, I couldn't wait for today. The key part of that sentence was today, but hold up, the movie came out last night? Well, at 11.30pm (the movie starts at 12.01 people) last night, I was closing a book, about to go to sleep preempting the early rise for work the next day, until I received the text message, “what's the plan for tonight?”; I'll let you fill in the rest with your imagination, but, despite some very frantic phone calls being made, shamefully erratic driving, and my ability to interpret a calendar being called into question, I saw Suicide Squad last night, and it pains me to say I was bitterly disappointed.
I have always been a big DC advocate in their ongoing war with Marvel, their comics and characters had always been grittier, more complex, and they have Batman, I mean, isn't that victory by default? Yet, since Man of Steel’s release in 2013, DC’s attempt to play catch up with Marvel on the big screen has gone down worse than Ryan Reynolds’ Green Lantern. The same failings that were present in MOS and BVS were all on display in DC’s latest flick, but, in attempt to gloss them over, the film erupted new and even greater discrepancies that left this viewer thinking “why is that happening” or, “did they just say that?”. Let's start with dialogue.
When reports circulated that Warner Bro’s had Suicide Squad reshot to make the film “funnier” and cater to a broader age group (it went from R to PG 13), I felt a chill crawl up my spine. My innate feelings were validated, far too many times last night did we see our anti heroes, “the bad guys” drop cheap, out of context one liners that would destroy any potential formation of a strong narrative, just to try make us laugh. BVS was condemned for being too serious, too dark, so I see how they (DC) wanted to give this film some comedic value its predecessor severely lacked. Yet, time after time last night, the jokes landed at the wrong time, and in turn devalued the seriousness of the characters; Killer Croc’s sassy “I’m beautiful” line in that failed emotion evoking scene at the bar was the real nail in the coffin for me. He is a murderous, man eating, half-man half-crocodile, but they gave him the personality of a wise cracking version of Michael Clarke Duncan’s Kingpin (Daredevil, 2003).
A good film, regardless of genre, needs to understand its core audience, and frankly, DC lost their own sense of values in an attempt to win over a broader audience with laughter, instead of focussing on the true nature of the film. These are bad people, being forced into dangerous situations; I didn't buy my ticket early to see a light hearted, all laughs and senseless action flick, I wanted to see Gotham's worst do the things the good guys can't do, because that's just it, they aren't the good guys. Whoever is writing for the DCU at the moment needs to be sent to the dark side of the moon, because they are poisoning characters and storylines that have so much promise. On that notion of characters, my reviews were more mixed than my scatheting opinion of the script.
I’ll be the good guy here and give credit where it's due to those who did the best they could with the script they were given. A few moments of Aussie pride here, but Margot Robbie lived up to her hype as the Joker's queen Harley Quinn. For those of you know the comics well, the scene of Joker and Harley in the pot of ACE chemicals acid would have put a smile on your face (Joker Pun). Robbie was bubbly and great to watch kick arse, but still showcased moments of diversity to her character, such as her induced dream of living a normal life in-love with a man who had not become the Joker, suggesting that there was more to her than quirky maniac we see on the surface. On the notion of the Joker, I was admittedly very skeptical, not because I don't think Jared Leto can be a great Joker (I'm a huge fan of his), but I was skeptical at the Joker he was asked to portray. More of an eccentric Gangster/Mass murderer than Heath Ledger's cunning, brilliant psychopath. Leto’s only fail for me was his lack of screen time. His portrayal hasn't completely won me over, but his performance last night was encouraging, as we will no doubt see a lot more of his Joker throughout the DCU and I look forward to seeing how in depth the character goes. Also, Captain Boomerang was hilarious, well done Jai Courtney, you did us proud.
Will Smith was great (sigh, surprise) as Deadshot, unlike the other members of his party, we saw a greater amount of complexity to his character. The balance between the bounty hunting serial killer and the father who yearns for his daughter's love and safety was a refreshingly well executed mix; something that characters such as Joel Kinnaman’s portrayal as Rick Flag and Jay Hernandez’s awful take on Diablo completely failed to transmit. Let’s not get started on how cheap the portrayal of Katana was, which was only matched by her purpose in the film being completely irrelevant.
However, I will now sink my teeth into the main issue with this film, Cara Delevingne’s Enchantress”, the movies primary antagonist, was a barrage of successive disappointments, from her wickedly basic and unimaginative lines such as “you don't have the balls” (yes, this is a 6,000 year old witch using the term “balls”), to the awful CGI used to create the weapon she intended to build. What even was the weapon? We know it was “a machine”, that's about it. Deadshot referred to it as “a ring of trash”. Perhaps that was the actor Smith, breaking character to comment on its originality - *cough, Man of Steel, *cough, Avengers, *cough, Transformers! The final battle scene felt more like a hybrid between The Mummy Returns and The Matrix, a montage of trashy computer generated, poorly choreographed fighting with a ton of slow motion facial expressions to make even Neo feel sick.
1. Man of Steel (2013). 2. Avengers (2012). 3. Transformers 3 (2011).
With all of the above taken into consideration, my true reasoning for feeling so angry and disappointed by Suicide Squad last night, was that it showed that DC hasn't learned its lesson. Suicide Squad had been built up to be the movie of the season, anticipated by comic book fans and neutrals alike, as being the saviour of the DCU after the critical failure of its predecessors. If anything, it was a step backwards. BVS may have been full of plot holes and a script as poorly constructed as this one, but it did a better job of sticking to its values, the values that DC have been transmitting to their readers for 70 years. If Marvel were worried about Suicide Squad, they won't be anymore. DC tried to beat Marvel at their own game, timely humour twisted with epic action sequences simply isn't in their DNA - it was always going to be an almost impossible task.
As a comic enthusiast and DC lover, I fear that this could be a domino effect onto next year's films such as Wonder Woman and The Justice League ( I will riot if it's anything like Suicide Squad), purely because DC have failed to show they have the nous and integrity to listen to their fans and give them what they want to see. Suicide Squad, in summary was a beautiful tragedy. There were good moments, ones that I want to see expanded on in movies to come, but I cannot shake this feeling of betrayal.
Solution? Stick to what you know, fire everyone, and give it all to Affleck.