Review: Say DC and Warner Bros misinterpret the legacy of Nolan’s The Dark Knight trilogy for its dark, bleak, and sorrowful atmosphere albeit more grounded approach to reality; DC Extended Universe might still have a spark of hope in eccentrically dark Suicide Squad to save the ship from sinking after Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice got lambasted a while ago. Yet, that’s not the story.
I wanted so bad to like Suicide Squad. It has a completely fresh idea like no other studios ever done before, in this lucrative season of superhero films: assembling the most notorious comic book villains to do a job that Superman or Batman supposed to do. Moreover, writer/director David Ayer (End of Watch, Fury) reintroduces the dark and gritty atmosphere, the scapegoat of BvS’s free fall, as a powerful message with a twist.
A world full of filthy and out-of-the zone humor with vibrant visuals and total anarchy is supposed to be an Ayer’s answer to Marvel’s irreverent humor. It’s a hybrid world of nihilistic spasms a la Deadpool, quirkiness of Guardian of the Galaxy and a mockery to typical hero-assemble trend. It sounds badass; it feels menacing; and it looks evil… only at the beginning.
Ayer gives the squad a proper introduction that takes up one-third of total duration. It appears as a result of Amanda Waller’s (Viola Davis) concerns to the world in aftermath of Superman’s ‘demise’ in BvS. Assembling a team of merc Deadshot (Will Smith); a psychiatric turned psycho, Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie); a bank-robber, Captain Boomerang (Jai Courtney); a pyro-bender, El Diablo (Jay Hernandez); a croc-skinned Killer Croc (Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbeje); and a witch-possessed woman, June Moone (Cara Delevingne); led by military advance Rick Flag (Joel Kinnaman) for a black-ops mission. That alone is possibly the film’s best part, ‘cause from here, things would go south.
Please remember, Batman v Superman was only a film about two famous vigilantes when verdicts called it convoluted. Now, Suicide Squad has more than just two central figures with relatively unknown backgrounds (for non-DC aficionados); the options left are: it would be as convoluted as BvS or it would leave major plotholes in the run. Ayer took the first option, although he handles it better than Snyder.
Basically, Suicide Squad has all the fun before it all gets too convoluted and weighed down by uneven storytelling, lack of depth and multiple character motivation issue. After committing apparent plot hole as a trigger to key event, Ayer gets lost in sea of characters. He just cannot decide whose storyline to highlight; all storylines just overflow without one proper connection – from Flag’s motivation to save Moone; Deadshot’s attempt to reconcile with his daughter; Joker’s occasional intervention to Harley Quinn; or El Diablo’s holding back for something. Some characters are not visited properly, i.e., Katana, Slipknot and Killer Croc while some become a mere waste of talents, i.e., Captain Boomerang and Amanda Waller herself. Ayer just cannot inter-tangle those knots into a smooth, holistic plot. There too many things to tell, but too little focus to follow.
Remember when Boomerang scolds Harley, “Outside, you’re amazing. Inside, you’re ugly,” to which Harley replies, “We are all. Except him, he’s ugly on the outside too,” while scolding back to Killer Croc. That scene alone basically wraps Suicide Squad in brief. All the candy colored and neon-bathed visuals; all the art design, which goes into formidable details (including characters’ tattoos and perks); and all those A-listers; they’re the outside. The inside is the messy plot along with the details full of small-time action sequences and throwing banters. You just can’t find the bone-chillin’ thrill that you used to feel in Ayer’s films; say Fury or End of Watch.
Notwithstanding that Suicide Squad is convoluted, it at least still know how to have fun, compared to BvS. Not with action bonanza, but with characters’ levity and lunacy, the squad steals quite attention. In doing so, Harley Quinn is the frontrunner – ever since her first appearance; she’s just annoyingly wicked. Meanwhile, Deadshot and El Diablo are given similar treatment – quite profound background story and on-screen showtime. Even, at some points, Deadshot is projected as if he’s the main character (in a similar fashion to Marvel’s Ant-Man). My personal favorite is Jared Leto’s Joker. With small on-screen presence, this Joker can quite live up his role for this film – as a catalyst/distractor for Harley Quinn. Possibly not as strong as Ledger’s or Nicholson’s (simply because he’s not the main villain), but a manipulative Joker who falls in love is a rare cinema wonder.
Character-wise aside, Suicide Squad is lock-and-stock-ed with fabulous soundtracks, which works like a time-machine of classic hits. That’s a plus point… until you find out that there would be new song every other minute.
To wrap it, Suicide Squad has a very promising build up, enchanting art direction and catchy soundtracks; moreover, it has all the admirable characters. It was all great at the beginning before plot holes emerge and the whole film drowned into uneven storytelling, lack of depth and multiple character motivation issue, culminated in unfocused plot. Can we just hope Suicide Squad isn’t that meta? It’s not a suicide message for DCEU, hopefully.
Suicide Squad (2016)