I won’t lie: I admit that Suicide Squad (2016) was one of my most anticipated movie of 2016. After sitting through every goddamned entry into the Saturday Morning Cartoon franchise known as the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) and two shitty Superman “movies” from resident edgelord Zack Snyder, Suicide Squad’s promise of an edgy villain centered comic book movie was fucking enticing. Too bad it was anything but amazing.
In the wake of Superman’s death and the rise of a new meta-human threat, the US government activates Task Force X: a team of the worst convicted felons and psychopaths they could find – ranging from the assassin Deadshot (Will Smith) to a gangster Joker’s (Jared Leto) batshit crazy lover Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie) – who are sent on a black ops suicide mission where they could die and take the fall for the government.
If you saw Suicide Squad’s epic trailers before the movie, you would understand why Suicide Squad doesn’t just represent DC’s latest fuck-up but also see that it is the perfect cinematic embodiment of disappointment and lost hope.
Friendship is Brutal
Giving credit where it’s due, Suicide Squad fulfilled its promise of showing audiences an engaging team of eccentric anti-heroes to root for. David Ayer is well known for group dynamics in his movies and Suicide Squad has no shortage of that. While it could be said that some of the characters (i.e. Katana, Killer Croc, Joker) deserved more screen time and without ignoring the fact that the final villain is some straight-up laughable shit who had more in common with a hula dancer than a spawn of Satan, the cast as a whole was a blast to watch and it helped that these guys were obviously having fun during shooting.
Compared to other teams like the titular Guardians of the Galaxy (2014), you can believe that the Suicide Squad members are violent social outcasts unlike the cartoonish “criminals” who all quip like discount Tony Starks. No matter how outlandish their get-ups look or how campy their villainous backstories are, seeing the cast of Suicide Squad bitch at each other and drink shots was easily the strongest part of the movie. When you have movie featuring a well acted Joker-Harley romance and a cast that includes charisma black hole Jai Courtney in a surprisingly fun role, you know the director did something right.
But as fun as the characters were, their combined talents could not save the movie from being the cluttered mess that will piss people off so much that an extended and improved Suicide Squad: The Ultimate Cut may become a reality.
A Tale of Two Squads
Suicide Squad was proudly advertised to be the superhero genre’s anti-thesis: a loud “Fuck You” aimed at the one-note heroics that immortalized boy scouts like Superman and earned Marvel billions of dollars worldwide. Suicide Squad is anything but self-aware because it’s a clusterfuck that doesn’t know what the fuck it wants to do.
Watching Suicide Squad felt like seeing double because its tone kept changing. Instead of being an organic story that evolved from a humorous call-to-arms to an engaging tale of an unlikely band of brothers, Suicide Squad felt as if it copied the best elements of the satirical Deadpool (2016) and the straightforward team heroics of Guardians of the Galaxy without realizing that these movies worked because they stuck to one mood instead of pandering to everyone like a piece of shit politician on election week.
Thanks to this, the awesome elements of Suicide Squad are squandered and lost in the shuffle. From the opening act’s jarring music placement to the inconsistent character arcs that jumped from jokey to dramatic in a single scene, Suicide Squad was too concerned about pleasing two sides of the audience – the edgy half and the lighthearted half – instead of finding its own distinct voice first. Catering to all is a nice idea but it never ends in the desired result.
Suicide Squad had the perfect chance to be the new voice in a genre that is already saturated with the same old tiresome bullshit but instead, DC’s anti-hero team may go down in history as yet another horror story for aspiring directors and throw a new stain on DC’s already fucked cinematic record.
Thanks, Warner Brothers
Even after the failure of Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016), Warner Brothers did not learn jackshit from its mistakes about balance. Where they gave full creative control to Zack Snyder for Batman V Superman, Suicide Squad suffered the opposite by getting strangled by studio interference. Even if David Ayer recently went out of his way to defend the studio, the fact that Warner Brothers basically made two cuts of the same film and then just mashed the fuckers together in a last minute panic attack shows the studio’s lack of confidence and general misunderstanding of anything DC related.
Seriously Warner Brothers, fuck off and read a fucking comic book.
That’s not to say that Suicide Squad is a bad movie. Contrary to what some of the harsher reviews may say, Suicide Squad is watchable even if its parts are better than the sum they form. When it’s concentrating on the squad’s dynamics and personalities, Suicide Squad shines and hell, even the studio forced scenes -the cameos, the action-focused middle act, etc – work and still have their moments: all testaments to David Ayer’s talents.
If The Dark Knight (2008) is the superhero genre’s irrefutable Citizen Kane (1941), then Suicide Squad is the shameless B-Movie and that’s why despite all of its glaring flaws, I still have a soft spot for it. Unlike Batman V Superman which tried too fucking hard to be high art, Suicide Squad knows exactly what it is and revels in its trashy punk aesthetic, complete with its rocking soundtrack blasting in the background. Suicide Squad is an improvement for DC but when its predecessor is something as shitty and pretentious as Batman V Superman, that’s not saying much and at most, it’s a guilty pleasure and a missed opportunity.
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