Suicide Squat: DC Takes Another Dump
Suicide Squad's casting and budget can't make up for a lack of story and emotional depth.
Suicide Squad is bad. Not like funny bad, or so-bad-it’s-good, or has-some-good-parts-but-just-doesn’t-work, but irredeemably and inexcusably bad, maybe-the-worst-film-I’ve-ever-seen bad. Even Margot Robbie wearing hot pants and gleefully smashing things with a baseball bat à la Beyoncé in Lemonade could not save this movie. It is disjointed, directionless, boring, hollow, tone-deaf, and—like the rest of the DC Extended Universe thus far—deeply cynical.
While Suicide Squad is the first DCEU film not to have been directed by Zack Snyder (Man of Steel, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice), for its surplus of pointless action scenes and overall lack of plot or artistry, it might as well have been. Technically, it’s the work of David Ayer (End of Watch, Fury), but Ayer has previously shown himself to be capable of constructing a coherent film, so I have to assume he had little to do with the finished product here. The thing is, Suicide Squad doesn’t seem to have been directed at all—there’s a distinct possibility the entire film was randomly generated by a Twitterbot programmed by Warner Brothers executives to produce Marketable Super Hero Content.
All of this would be excusable if the characters were fun, or even remotely developed—a lot can be forgiven in the wake of a charismatic ensemble. Instead, we get Deadshot (Will Smith, phoning it in hard), an assassin who never misses a shot and wants to prove to his daughter he’s not really a bad guy, despite outright referring to himself as a bad guy no less than three times; Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie), a thoroughly one-dimensional piece of eye candy and a walking mental-health stigma; Enchantress (Cara Delevingne), what I assume would happen if you put everyone who has ever attended Burning Man in a blender; El Diablo (Jay Hernandez), who is basically the Human Torch as an offensive Latino stereotype; Killer Croc (Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje), a scaly guy who likes sewers and lacks a single line of intelligible dialogue; and Boomerang (Jai Courtney), who throws boomerangs because he’s Australian and has no other discernible purpose.
Then there’s Jared Leto’s Joker. First of all, Leto was put in a terrible position, and in some respects, he was dealt a losing hand. Heath Ledger arguably perfected the Joker in The Dark Knight. And then he died, becoming an instant legend and making his already hard-to-fill shoes impossible to fill. But while I’d like to be able to say Leto did the best with what he was given, it just wouldn’t be true. Everything about Suicide Squad’s iteration of the Joker, from the costuming to the screenplay to the comic books it took its inspiration from is distinct from that of The Dark Knight’s Joker. Suicide Squad handed Leto the opportunity to distinguish his Joker from Ledger’s on a silver platter. He could have done something new, something that would have placed him in the canon alongside Ledger and put to rest the public’s reservations about his casting. Instead, he chose to do a Heath Ledger impression, and a MADtv-caliber impression at that.
Adding insult to injury is the FM radio needle-drop soundtrack, a transparent and misguided bid by studio executives to copycat Guardians of the Galaxy, and one that likely cost half the budget. “Bohemian Rhapsody,” “Spirit in the Sky,” and “Sympathy for the Devil” are all great songs, but the music serves no purpose and makes no sense. Worse, in some cases it actively detracts from what little narrative the film does have.
Suicide Squad is a wholesale disaster. Worse, it is boring. It is essentially a longer, less engaging version of that YouTube video where Grand Theft Auto V is left without a player for five minutes and the game’s algorithm is left to run without human input. Actually, here, save your money, just go watch that instead. FL