Readers, I want to begin this review with something witty or interesting to say about Suicide Squad. Maybe I could have discussed how this was DC’s third chance to try and get their cinematic universe off the ground, with a fantastic film that would rival Marvel’s offerings. Perhaps I could have talked about the movie’s complicated development, from the several reshoots it underwent, to complications on set between the actors, or the directors affinity for throwing vulgarities at Marvel Studios. I could say plenty about Suicide Squad, but after spending 2 hours with the film, I’m honestly loathing the possibility of remembering any of this poorly written, under-acted, offensively boring thud of a motion picture.
It’s disappointing that a concept rich with opportunity, where in a team of known super villains are forced by the government to complete missions or die, is frankly lost under the muddled desires of Warner Brothers and their cinematic universe. Much like Batman V Superman, Suicide Squads story is tasked with putting the origins of many new characters, a team film, a Joker side story and set ups for Justice League all in one script, causing all parts to fall flat. What 10 minutes of the Joker we see feel completely disconnected from the rest of the film, and feel like they could be excised with little to no impact on the plot. The lack of time divided amongst the Squad themselves causes the film to focus on only 4 of the 8 members, with the other 4 serving no purpose in the overall plot.
This lack of emphasis on certain characters would be fine if they were at least compelling in some way, but the films script is often more concerned with what these characters do then who they are. All we ever know about characters like Katana, Killer Croc, Captain Boomerang or Slipknot is that they are good at hitting thing, and only ever hints at further depth, without actually exploring anything. The only exceptions to this come from Will Smith as Deadshot and Margo Robbie as Harley Quinn, but even this is undercut by how simplistically written the characters are. While they are the stand out stars of the film, this exclusively comes from the fact that Will Smith and Margo Robbie are charming, and not from the depth their characters posesess.
Surprisingly, the low bar of quality our main characters present is quickly shattered when presented with our main villains. Actress Cara Delevingne may deliver an Oscar-worthy performance in her other movies, but her turn as The Enchantress in Suicide Squad is a level of bad overacting not seen since the Schumacher batman films. Her one note is to constantly sway back and fourth comedicly, followed by whispering or shouting her every line. Her partner, an equally powerful god that’s never explained, fills every box of a generic henchman, lumbering about and shouting every word to try and seem more intimidating. You have seen these characters done better in super hero films made years ago, as have Suicide Squads scores of generic grey bad guys, and third act blue beam shooting into the sky.
So all of the pieces of Suicide Squad don’t work, but even a movie made of cliches can put itself together to at least work on a basic storytelling level. But the script has enough plot holes to drive through, with major questions like why normal people are the best choice to face off against meta-humans and the Sumerian god-like being that the Enchantress is. The squad’s first encounter with the faceless grey henchmen is begun with their intelligence operative telling them that the grey beings can’t be killed, and is immediately followed with a firefight where they mow down scores of them, with no explanation. In the final act, the main antagonists are defeated with normal explosives, proposing the real question of why the suicide squad was needed in the first place, which is the last question you want to ask in a movie that tries to convince you on how cool the suicide squad is. On every level, it seems like someone just didn’t try, and the result is an exhausting, overly long film that will leave you asking yourself why you’re still watching it long before the credits begin rolling.
My last notes on this film is actually a legitimate warning to audiences who are offended by racially insensitive content, because in David Ayers attempts to make Sucice Squad more “urban”, he often turns to offensive, outdated stereotypes. While small examples come out in the portrayals of captain boomerang (an Australian who is constantly getting drunk), and Katana (a Japanese woman who we only know as someone good with her literal katana), most of the problems arise from El Diablo. The lone Latino character, El Diablo is a former gangbanger, covered in tattoos, who is only referred to as “Esse”, and lives in the projects with his wife and child he can’t provide for (it’s important to note that his wife also refers to the pair having sex as “we can kick it”, which is equal parts hilariously outdated and incredible stereotypical).
Not wanting to be outdone by its subtle racism, the film also portrays women in an exceptionally negative way as well. The only female characters are either victims to make male characters more interesting, motivation for male characters to be more interesting “badasses”, or objects to be sexually exploited (no joke, killer crocs reward is BET on the tv in his cell, which he then uses to watch women shake their butts). Making matters worse is the films glorification of the Joker’s abusive relationship with Harley Quinn, which never portrays him as a bad person despite his torturing and mentally abusing of Harley. This is even more troubling as Ayers goes so far as to end the film on their reunion and tries to spin it as a happy ending, which is an awful message to send to young women who will see this movie. Simply put, Suicide Squad is offensively bad in both its message and content as a film, and should be avoided at all costs.
Arbitrary Numerical Rating: 2 Likable Actors in an Awful Film out of 10