Earlier this year, Warner Brothers and DC put their two biggest shells into a double barrel shotgun and hoped that it would bring down Marvel with one shot. That shot, Batman v. Superman, didn’t exactly hit the mark, though. It remains one of the most divisive movies of the year, despite the release of an extended version on Blu Ray. I myself liked that movie more than most, but even I will admit it has a lot of glaring flaws.
Will the bad guys of the DCEU be its salvation? Warner Brothers certainly hopes so, but things haven’t started off too hot for the highly anticipated anti-hero team. It currently sits at 27% on Rotten Tomatoes, which was around the same mark that Batman v. Superman hit. Already, even before its wide release to the public, it’s a controversial movie-prompting some hardcore DC fans to go so far as to create an online petition to shut down Rotten Tomatoes (which is quite stupid for multiple reasons, I might do another post about that). I’ve talked about my Rotten Tomatoes rule before, so I clearly lend validity to critics. Considering all of the heated debate that’s already begun between fans and critics, though, I wanted to go into this movie with as open of a mind as possible-which isn’t hard for me, since I see a lot movies with a variety of reviews from critics.
So is Suicide Squad the hit that the DCEU needs? Sadly not, I think-but it’s not the piece of crap that some people say it is, in my opinion.
Like Batman v. Superman, this movie is a very mixed bag for me. I will say this: the movie moves a lot faster and is a lot less boring than Batman v. Superman was guilty of being. Remember all of those super serious and very confusing talking scenes in BvS? Those are nonexistent here-which is a welcome improvement, for me! In that sense, the studio seems to have heard the fans. This is a funnier, livelier, and “less boring” movie than BvS. In other senses, though, the DCEU still has a loot of room for improvement.
When this movie is on, it is on. It’s exciting and the characters are a fun cast to follow. However, when the movie is off, it’s way off-plagued by cheesy dialogue, a boringly familiar story, and inconsistent character motivations.
In regards to what works, it’s the characters-or at least some of them. Like the movie itself, the characters that are cool are super cool, and the others are just kind of there. The super cool ones for me included: Deadshot (Will Smith), Amanda Waller (Viola Davis), Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie), and Rick Flagg (Joel Kinnaman). Smith’s Deadshot is a slick, snarky assassin with the mouth to match. He’s the standout of the movie, being both an entertaining character and a consistent character. Meanwhile, Amanda Waller might be the most evil person in the movie-aside from the actual villain of the story. She’s a cold, calculating, bad butt lady! The best scene in the movie might just belong to her-and considering the stars Viola Davis is sharing the screen with, that’s really saying something. Flagg is a relatable hero who offers nobility to the cast, and Joel Kinsman simply oozes charisma in this movie. Harley Quinn is definitely a complete nut, and Margot Robbie does a good job of selling that. She’s a fun character that offers a lot of fun to the movie; however, the writing for her character is extremely inconsistent-and I can’t really explain why without spoiling the movie. I’ll just say this: at one point towards the end, she makes a major decision that is not only cheesy but it is simply something Harley Quinn would not do. It’s to good of an act for her.
That leads me into two of my biggest flaws with the movie, which go hand-in-hand. The script has many issues, with one of its biggest being inconsistency. A lot of this inconsistency comes from an inherent fear to create a team of true villains. These characters, even the good ones, felt like neutered versions of themselves. In other words, they fell victim to “herofication”. It wouldn’t be as big of a deal, perhaps, if Deadpool had not completely redrawn the lines for what an antihero can be in a comic book movie earlier this year. There was a character who was unapologetically bad, and shows it, but was taking on someone worse. Suicide Squad takes characters that we are told are bad, but never get the chance to show it-and they’re forced into this heroic act, but they go along with it so easily that you easily forget that they’re villains to begin with.
On the note of not showing how bad the characters truly are, I must also make note of the script’s constant need to remind us through dialogue that these people “are the bad guys!” The problem is, they say it over and over again, but they never show it; and even when they do show it, they have redemption moments. When making a movie about antiheroes, you can’t go halfway-but that’s exactly what the filmmakers tried to do with Suicide Squad. They didn’t make a movie about bad guys, they made a movie about good guys who’ve perhaps made some questionable decisions that we never really get to feel onscreen-or at least not enough to really believe they are bad. Throughout the whole film, upon utterances of these “we’re the bad guys” lines, I wanted the film to show me that with their actions-but it never did. That goes back to the herofication I mentioned earlier.
As far as the story itself, it’s very similar to the situation with Jason Bourne. The basic beats of the story have been done a million times already, so the movie falls victim to predictability. And like with Jason Bourne, the stakes are eliminated as a result. It doesn’t help that the villain of the story is a pretty terrible villain, also. Her motivations and her methods have simply been done many times before, and on that note: they’ve been done better.
What the DCEU needs to really do is focus on its scripts-because with its two releases of this year, the script has been the source of all their issues. The action in the movies has been great, the acting has been great, and the characters have been great. The biggest issue both movies have lies in bad scripts-whether too convoluted and talky, like BvS, or too basic and predictable like Suicide Squad.
If you were really looking forward to Suicide Squad, I still think it’s worth seeing. The characters are really the saving grace of the film, but the story itself leaves a lot to be desired.