Film Review: Suicide Squad

Film Review: Suicide Squad

A little backstory/context from the source material (these are not technically spoilers for anyone who’s read any comics, watched animated series/films or just happened to see the damn trailer for the film so hold off on your bitching mmmmkay!

The Suicide Squad are a group of villains from the DC universe incarcerated in Belle Reve Penitentiary, who are assembled together as the brainchild of Amanda Waller. Waller, a high ranking government official, assembles the squad with the idea that the villains could band together using their abilities to pull off black ops missions and tasks for the government when necessary. The official title the team is given is Task Force X but they are soon dubbed as a Suicide Squad due to each member being injected with a nanobomb into their necks. The nanobomb could be set off by the tap of a button or screen, which thus ensures none of the squad members step out of line.

The squad consists of Deadshot (an assassin who is known to never miss a target), Harley Quinn (maniacal girlfriend of The Joker), Diablo (blasts large flames using his hands), Captain Boomerang (a master thief who .. well .. throws boomerangs), Killer Croc (a walking, talking, mutant crocodile – well to be fair in the comics he’s a homicidal maniac with a grotesque skin disease), Enchantress (an archaeologist possessed by an ancient witch) and Slipknot (who apparently climbs walls very well using ropes). The team is being directly overseen by Captain Rick Flagg, who reports to Waller. Katanna (an assassin whose blade possesses the soul of those she has killed) literally hops onto the team at the last second but more as an insurance policy for Rick Flagg.

The first part of the film introduces us to the various team members. The team is then immediately sent on a mission when something goes awfully wrong in Midway City. That’s basically it.

Certain team members receive lengthier introductions and screen time than others, understandably so considering the actors involved. When you’re paying Will Smith $30million to be in your film, you’re going to be giving him the most to do. Smith’s Deadshot was my favorite character. I felt Smith played each scene very well being a cold killer when he needed be but also a man who simply wants to see his daughter again too. There are two scenes of Deadshot in the film where Smith is particularly badass. One of those scenes is actually in the trailers with Deadshot on top of a car just laying bodies down.

Within the context of the film this scene actually gave me goosebumps and I thought “Okay having a guy who doesn’t miss a shot would definitely be useful in this case”. On top of all the badassery and emotion, Smith’s Deadshot also played off the other characters superbly.

Margot Robbie carries a lot of the film too. I felt Robbie played her part very well due to Harley Quinn being one of those characters that could be rather tricky to play on screen. Robbie made me believe a ‘toit blonde in hot pants with a baseball bat can roll with a guy like Deadshot. Harley Quinn also serves as our introduction to Jared Leto’s Joker.

I felt The Joker this time around had to be a departure from Heath Ledger’s incarnation. The Joker is now more of a cold bad boy mobster and about the bling. The Joker owns a nightclub, rocks some gold jewelry and drives a purple Lamborghini. Most importantly, he’s crazy in love with Harley. A family member who I watched the film with asked why The Joker was being portrayed as “attractive”. I thought this worked for the character as you have to believe he would be pulling a lady like Harley. The Joker doesn’t serve much purpose in this film except to be chased by Batman as seen in the marketing clips and to be Harley’s love interest though. Most of the scenes between Harley and Joker are flashbacks which pay a nice amount of homage to the comics. A young lady who I also watched the film with said afterwards she found their romance “cute”. Make of that what you will.

Two characters I felt were also well portrayed but were given lesser screen time are Diablo and Amanda Waller. Jay Hernandez was unrecognizable as Diablo and you felt for his character due to his motivations and backstory. Viola Davis as Waller was just one mean lady who made me believe she would take no bullshit and actually be the type to kill someone by detonating a bomb in their neck.

Certain members of the soon-to-be formed Justice League appear as cameos. I liked the fact that these cameos actually serve a purpose which made sense within the story, albeit a small purpose.

Captain Boomerang and Killer Croc are basically reduced to delivering one-liners and looking mean.

“Despite the actors putting solid efforts into new characters and a fresh take on The Joker, the weak plot, inaccurate marketing and generic villains leaves Suicide Squad ending up as just another film to check out while chewing on some popcorn and sipping on a soda.”

The mission the squad is sent on revolves around one of the members and another character. I won’t go any deeper into that to avoid spoilers but this is definitely one of the weakest points of the film. The majority of the villains are literally faceless. A certain major villain ends up doing nothing more than simply walking around and destroying things. Major yawn. The mission being carried out by the squad does allow for a few plot twists but even those end up being nothing more than Macguffins.

Another weak point is that the film looked dark and dull despite all that colorful advertising. It seems someone at DC/Warner Bros. still hasn’t received the memo that films are allowed to have lots of color. The film is very grey during the scenes in Midway City. Even in other scenes where the sun is shining and the squad members are outside, the film looks rather brown. Rain falls during the inevitable final stand off and I could hardly tell what was happening onscreen because of everything just looking very bland.

On the matter of marketing this film, I find it interesting that the first “I Started a Joke” trailer was dark and eerie. After the backlash DC/Warner Brothers received from Batman V Superman, the marketing clips and trailers then became much more lighthearted. The film is by far more humorous compared to Man of Steel and Batman V Superman. The previous DCEU films hardly had any humor. The crowd in the cinema I was at must have laughed about 10-15 times during Suicide Squad.

The soundtrack to Suicide Squad was in stark contrast to the previous two DCEU films as well. Where Batman V Superman had an orchestral score, Suicide Squad is instead packed with tracks from Rick Ross, Kanye West, The White Stripes, Queen, Eminem and more. The humor and music shows that the execs at DC/Warner Bros. are trying hard to appeal to and appease the masses after the Batman V Superman backlash from earlier this year.

Despite the actors putting solid efforts into new characters and a fresh take on The Joker, the weak plot and generic villains leaves Suicide Squad ending up as just another film to check out while chewing on some popcorn and sipping on a soda. That might be enough for most cinema goers to enjoy themselves right now but that just won’t be enough for the DCEU in the long run ahead.

Editor’s note:

The team at Ghost spend a lot of time discussing the inevitable fallibility of beloved comic properties (particularly those in the DC camp). There’s a worrying pattern that has emerged post Nolanverse Batman that the most important trait of a comic book film to Warner Bros at least, is its box office success. We argue that comic books deserve the same attention from filmmakers and studios that they usually reserve for novels and other “highbrow” source materials.

Comics have been around for the better part of 100 years (since the dawn of the printing press, actually). And if The Lord of the Rings can get three good films out of its property, then the DC universe – which is more realised in print than LOTR could ever hope to be (and belongs to the same studio) deserves to be treated with the same respect.

So to conclude all the bitching, basically…  please stop supporting (with your monies) mediocre portrayals of our beloved fan materials. There’s just no excuse anymore in a world of a successful anti-studio-status-quo Deadpool (and other examples), for studios to treat such rich literary artifacts with the Fast & Furious popcorn moneymaking approach that they continue to deliver.

And just because the film adaptation has fan nods and easter eggs to the source materials, does not mean they continue to capture the soul of what made these characters and stories jump off the pages and into our hearts in the first place. They’re supposed to have those moments… quit celebrating the fact that your dog hasn’t shat the bed when its already bitten your toddler several times and spreads rabies like a fucking Typhoid Mary to all your loved ones…. Okay okay I’ll shurrup now… for now…. Justice League cometh… and Doctor Strange will probably be better… which is fucking ridiculous…  

 

Check out the trailer to the film below and another to the animated movie as a bonus:

 


 

 



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