Dodano: 12 August 2016
COLORFUL CHARACTERS, BLAND PLOT
Suicide Squad is the third installment of the DC Extended Universe, struggling with negative reviews from the critics and mixed reactions from the fans and the general audience. This time the creators took a huge risk. While Batman v Superman was expected to be a hit, promising the public the long-awaited duel between two of the most famous superheroes of all time, the characters in Suicide Squad are mostly unknown to the general audience. In the end, the final result is – both luckily and unfortunately – the same as with the Snyder movie. The chaotic, heavily edited and bland plot is just a pretext to present a gallery of colorful, funny and very well-acted characters – despite the fact that none of them gets enough screen time.
The eponymous team is a group of villains forced to undertake top secret, suicide missions for the US government. The small bombs implanted in their necks prevent them from escaping. In return, if they survive, they get commuted prison sentences. The team consists of the sniper Deadshot (Will Smith), Joker’s mad girlfriend, Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie), Captain Boomerang (Jai Courtney), fire-controlling El Diablo (Jay Hernandez), a mutated human crocodile, Killer Croc (Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje) and the master of climbing, Slipknot (Adam Beach). Led by ruthless Amanda Waller (Viola Davis) and Colonel Rick Flag (Joel Kinnaman) they must all face a supernatural threat. But is it really a good idea, to leave the fate of the world in the hands of insane, unstable villains?
It’s definitely a great idea for a movie. Not only does it have a potential for an action-packed entertainment, but can also provoke many questions about the nature of evil, showing its different faces, including the one in the form of a government agency. The presence of all these diverse characters can lead to many interesting conflicts and plot twists. Unfortunately, David Ayer’s movie wastes this opportunity. The plot moves very quickly, but not because it’s very dynamic. There are hardly any obstacles in the movie for its heroes to overcome. Amanda Waller proposes to create a team of villains, she gets a permission, the group is assembled, they’re briefed on their mission, they go to a city, they find a person they were looking for and then they go fight the main antagonist. All of that makes a bland, conventional plot, with little to no conflicts, twists or even shocking moments that one would expect from a movie in which there are no truly positive characters, just different shades of evil. The viewing experience is made even worse, much like in Batman v Superman, by heavy editing: the scenes appear out of nowhere, without any order, it’s also clear that many of them – after comparing the movie with its trailers (which spoiled most of the best moments) and behind the scenes footage – were completely cut from the final version. This severely limits the characters’ screen time and doesn’t let the viewers to get to know them better.
It’s all the more frustrating because the characters are the strongest aspect of the movie. They’re very diverse, each of them has a unique personality, look, abilities and motivations. Much like Wonder Woman in Batman v Superman, they don’t need a lot of screen time to grab the viewers’ attention. Viola Davis perfectly captures Amanda Waller’s ruthlessness with her cold stare and matter-of-fact tone. Joel Kinnaman as Flag can be both a rough soldier and a sensitive man. Jai Courtney, annoying as Kyle Reese in terrible Terminator Genisys, redeems himself playing funny and rude Captain Boomerang. Jay Hernandez gives a surprising and touching performance. His El Diablo shows off not only during action scenes (including the one which luckily wasn’t spoiled in the trailers, when he reveals the full scope of his powers), but also during more serious moments, both dramatic and warm at the same time. Although Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje doesn’t say much as Killer Croc, he can get a laugh with just one sentence and the way he looks is very impressive. Will Smith, as usual, is a funny, likeable tough guy. It does however give an impression that he’s playing himself rather than Deadshot, a cynical killer. Only Flag’s bodyguard, Katana (Karen Fukuhara), his love interest, June Moone, possessed by the witch Enchantress (Cara Delevingne) and Slipknot get too little screen time to say anything about them. There is, however, a funny explanation for that in the case of the last character…
And then there are the two most well-known and most popular characters in the movie: Harley Quinn and the Joker (Jared Leto). Already in the trailers Margot Robbie thrilled DC fans and the movie itself only proves that this was one of the most perfect casting choices in the history of superhero movies. The star of The Wolf of Wall Street perfectly captures the complex personality of Harley Quinn from the comics and the animated series. She’s sexy, childish, crazy, careless, aggressive and even serious at times: in one scene she’s devastated by something she’s just witnessed but as soon as she hears the team approaching she immediately puts on a happy mask. Jared Leto as the Joker completely immerses himself in his character, his gestures, speech and mood swings. Unfortunately, despite the misleading trailers, he gets very little screen time and many of his scenes were edited or entirely cut from the movie. He belongs to a subplot, rather than being the main antagonist (the actual villain is very disappointing and has a really boring motivation and plan, much like many Marvel antagonists). The relationship between the two characters is depicted in a very unusual way. In the animated show Harley was a victim of the Stockholm syndrome, having an unrequited love towards a sadist who kept abusing her. In the movie the Joker cares so much about her that he’s willing to do anything to get her back. She, in turn, is not a naïve, manipulated victim: she knows exactly what she wants. This is shown in one of the best scenes of the movie, depicting the origin of Harley Quinn (based on its latest New 52 version from Suicide Squad #7).
Long before the movie was released it had been revealed that Ben Affleck would have a cameo as Batman. The actor once again proves how much the sceptics were wrong about him. He also shows some character development – in a short scene in which he apprehends one of the villains he’s surprisingly calm. It seems that the events of Batman v Superman left an impact on him and made the Dark Knight more human. There’s also another cameo from another famous superhero and a mid-credits scene.
Finally, let’s talk a little about the soundtrack. It’s a mix of well-chosen songs (some of them were used in the trailers) that do, however, feel forced at times. Every scene has a different tune and since the movie jumps quickly from one place to another, it leads to a musical chaos. This seems to prove that accusing Suicide Squad of trying to imitate Guardians of the Galaxy wasn’t entirely unfounded (at one point the song „Spirit in The Sky”, used in both movies, starts playing).
Suicide Squad is a very uneven film, frustrating with its heavily edited, boring story and fascinating thanks to its interesting, well-acted characters. In Batman v Superman the creators were too impatient and put too many elements in one movie. This time they didn’t have the courage to tell a dynamic, surprising, black action comedy. Once again the DC fans have to look to the future and hope that it’ll be better next time. The heroes of Suicide Squad deserve a movie which will fully use their hidden potential which, as in the case of El Diablo, waits to be unleashed.
The author of this review is Jakub Michalik. MA in English philology at the Institute of English Studies, the University of Warsaw. The author of a thesis devoted to the features of Stephen King’s American Gothic fiction. Interests: classic works of literature (especially the American Renaissance, the Victorian period and modernism), sociology of popular culture, the superhero genre in comics and movies, literary translation, the history of film, film criticism. Batman fan.
Title: Suicide Squad
Directed by: David Ayer
Written by: David Ayer
Starring: Will Smith, Jared Leto, Margot Robbie, Joel Kinnaman, Viola Davis, Jai Courtney, Jay Hernandez, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, Ike Barinholtz, Scott Eastwood, Cara Delevingne
Cinematography: Roman Vasyanov
Music by: Steven Price
Edited by: John Gilroy
Production design: Oliver Scholl
Costumes: Kate Hawley
Running time: 123 minutes