I think this movie might’ve been better if it had been worse.
Suicide Squad is a mess both because of what it was trying to be and because of the ways it failed to pull that off. The beginning is a series of little episodic style vignettes establish character back stories; it’s a very weird structure that I can see putting off some people because it’s a very disjointed experience. That’s actually kind of my favorite part of the movie. Because on the other side the ending is a stereotypical blockbuster action movie where characters often act out of character and there’s even another giant vortex.
Yup. Another giant vortex. Man, there’s nothing wrong with a giant vortex on its own necessarily, but holy shit.. their overuse is beyond comical. We haven’t even gotten to the part of the trend where they start showing up ironically. It makes so many blockbusters these days feels samey and lazy, and honestly it does cheat us out of a compelling climax. But whatever, that’s a nitpick and just something that’s getting to me.
So, this is mess, what’s the big deal, what makes this one special or different? The thing is, parts of this movie are actually really good; which makes the poor plotting, the out of character moments, and the general malaise of studio blandness that much more infuriating.
The best part of this movie are some of the performances. Will Smith and Margot Robbie in particular actually kind of kill it as Deadshot and Harley Quinn respectively (except when the plot demands they act out of character. Will Smith in particular fucking brought it; this is the best Will Smith in a goddam long time and it’s wasted. Although I do think Jared Leto’s Joker sucks, he’s not intimidating or interesting he just a dude with weird teeth.
The soundtrack for this movie is the dark apocalyptic future James Gunn warned us about when everyone really loved the Guardians of the Galaxy sountrack. Pop songs are just slathered all over the first half of this movie. Just quick hits one after another after another. Without reason, or respect that some of those songs are already kinda taken by other movies. They’re good songs but it’s just too much, for the most part, but it’s just too much. And during the final act when the movie could desperately use some pop music to add some flavor to the boring route proceedings, we get nothing. When it stops it doesn’t feel like there’s reason behind it, just that they’d run out of pop songs; like they’d used every pop song ever written already. Along with that overuse the movie can’t even manage one memorable moment using a pop song. It all blended together in a way that I can’t pick out anything specific now, it was just distracting in the moment. Also they never really let a full song play, just kept quickly shuffling over to the next one.
I don’t know why they made a movie about the Suicide Squad because nothing about this movie because nothing about this movie indicates any faith in the idea. They wanted to make a movie with Harley Quinn, that part is clear. But there’s nothing about this specific story that calls upon these characters, and the plot that’s here completely undermines most of these characters.
In theory this should be a heist movie, like The Dirty Dozen but with supervillains, and while the beginning of the movie kind of fits into that formula (Building the squad) the mission they go on, and the plot the wind up n doesn’t fit into that at all. If you had the structure of a particular heist, then you could assemble a team with specific skills suited for that mission and every team member would have their purpose and defined moment within the plot. But this movie has none of that so a lot of these characters have nothing to do and are of dubious usefulness anyway.
For a team called “The Suicide Squad” the movie is obviously unwilling to just kill these characters. There are too many moments where there’s no good reason for a character to be alive anymore but they just get to live because they’ve got a backstory. If the point of the team is for its members to be expendable, then why aren’t they.
The movie also misses the point in being about villains instead of misfits when it just has them pull together because it’s the right thing to do. I guess some of them go along with it just because they’ve got nothing better to do but that’s kind of even worse. It’s all so contrived and poorly thought out. These characters are just stitched onto a generic superhero plot that feels completely at odds with the substantial amount of work the movie already did to establish them as sociopaths.
That’s the big frustrating thing, there could have been a really good movie here, and there are a bunch of very specific simple changes that would make it easily a lot better. But to really make it better you’d have to do things like “cut out all the pointless Joker scenes” and “fix the climax” and most of all “Figure out an actual mission for the specific team you’re using.” This movie is very flawed.
Or it could have just all been really stupid and silly and fun, and then all those critical nitpicks wouldn’t matter either. The part where Deadshot breaks character only pisses me off because the movie made me care about Deadshot’s character. [I’m trying to articulate why I like this movie less than Now You See Me 2 which is a stupid garbage movie that I enjoyed thoroughly.]
There are some other nitpicks I want to get off my chest.
The movie takes all this time to introduce all the Suicide Squad members and then suddenly throws someone else onto the team at the last minute. Guess who winds up dying first as an example to everyone else.
The banter in this movie is surprisingly bad. There’s a scene where they’re all in a bar just sitting around and no has any chemistry. It’s so awkward and cringey.
Also, the way this movie frames the idea for starting this team, as an anti-Superman project is ridiculous. Not because the government taking some anti-Superman steps doesn’t make sense, but because this specific team has fucking zero chance against Superman. What are Harley, Boomerang or Deadshot going to do to Superman? Pitch this some other way if these are the characters you’re going to use. Fuck.
Katana is another character that just kinda gets thrown in, in a way that would really work except the movie can’t fucking help itself and has to have someone exposition dump all over those scenes. The second time it happens is especially irksome because there’s a great scene of Katana taking to and crying over her sword in a way that’s totally clear and emotionally effective except that the whole time Will Smith is blathering over it explaining that her husband was murdered with that sword and it captures the souls of whoever was killed with it so she’s talking to him. Something that had already been explained in exposition and was perfectly clear.
This just feels like a movie the studio never really wanted to make or felt comfortable with. I mean this is the odd blockbuster that kinda salts the earth as far as making a direct sequel goes (Although not for using these characters in different movies)… oh wait, a sequel is already confirmed? What the fuck? Why? I don’t understand Hollywood.
I don’t hate this movie, it’s just frustrating, it should be better and I wish it were.
Thank You For Your Time.