Suicide Squad -This DC Cinematic Universe Movie Does Not Rock Like It Really Needed To
Dir: David Ayer
Starring Will Smith, Margot Robbie, Jared Leto, Joel Kinnaman, Viola Davis, Cara Delevingne, Jai Courtney, Ben Affleck, Ezra Miller
They played us Ballroom Blitz on every trailer and every TV spot. Because they wanted us to think this was going to be fun. But is Suicide Squad fun? For the most part, sadly not. It is for the most part, a huge unrewarding mess, another significant misstep in the DC/WB attempt to shoehorn a universe into the multiplex.
More than anything, it’s structurally a mess. What David Ayer has promoted as an anarchic approach to the superhero/villain genre is more an exercise in uncertain story telling. It starts well – up to a point – with its Dirty Dozen assemblage intro to most of its characters, complete with humorous back story/flashback. But even this is mismanaged with Ayer choosing to separate what he sees as his movie's two stars – Smith’s Deadshot and Robbie’s Harley Quinn – established from the off, before Viola Davis starts assembling her team to face up to any other meta-humans in the wake of the late Superman. Then some of the minor characters don’t get their due till later in the film when things are unfortunately flagging. Backstory for the bad guys is also rushed to the point where shortly before the third act a Basil Exposition recap is required to remind us what the hell is going on.
Then there’s the Joker, which Leto goes for with some aplomb. Nonetheless, he remains an adjunct to an increasingly dull central tale, at times an after-thought, more likely a marketing ploy. Batfleck shows up but all too briefly – and as to the Flash? Really, why did they bother?
Oh yeah – to remind us that this is part of a greater whole. A greater whole that two movies in is not looking so great.
You could forgive it some of its faults if it weren’t for the finale which is almost a direct lift, visually, from the climax of Ghostbusters – the 1984 one, not that recent thing, with Delevingne throwing some decidedly odd shapes and giving some equally odd line readings as this film’s equivalent of that Gate-Keeping “prehistoric bitch.” The fact that Smith’s Deadshot doesn’t say “See you on the other side, Ray” is one of the film’s few surprises.
Plus, it’s a remarkably ugly film. Someone should have told Ayer – as they should have told Zack Snyder before him – that “dark” does not mean just grim, murky and full of persistent rain. At least Snyder’s Bats V Supes had a degree of visual style all its own, this, in trying to fit with it, just comes across as visually unpleasant.
And then again, wasn’t this the film WB marketed as the day-glo fun movie? The anti-dark DC? Well, clearly someone didn’t get the memo.
Yes, it opened with a huge first weekend at the box office, but, like Bats V Supes before it, Suicide Squad is likely to tumble dramatically, And with that film’s final haul of $875 million being seen as a failure, this is very likely to follow suit. Which is a shame, because the DC comics universe has a lot to offer potentially. But it’s becoming clearer and clearer that – cinematically – they have tried to run before they can walk, the Snyder aesthetic is not working, and the more you let an audience down – the more they won’t be back.
A mid-credit sting reminds us (as Marvel did when building up the Avengers) that the Justice League are coming. Whether anyone is still bothered by then remains to be seen.
Oh, on the plus side – Margot Robbie is great!
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