So Close, Yet So Far Away: Suicide Squad Movie Review

It is really hard to sum up my feelings for the Suicide Squad movie because there were aspects of it I loved, but there was the same problem DC had with Dawn of Justice. This movie WANTED to be so many things that, by the end of it, you can barely recall what you just saw or the story it told. While the performances were good (and Leto did steal the show with a very unique take on The Joker, he felt psycho-sexual and oppose to just chaotic), the movie tried to be an origin story for the Suicide Squad, tried to push the other DC stories on us to remind us what world we were in (wow, a Flash cameo again, didn’t see that coming at all after Dawn of Justice) and it tried to tell a broken love story (or two, actually) and just really had trouble finding a flow and sticking with it. Much like DC’s other recent film fare, this shit was all over the place.

So for those who do not know, the Suicide Squad is a DC comic based around the concept of the government sending in a team of the worst criminals possible to do the most dangerous jobs, promising them special treatment and shorter stays if they succeed. It is a cool concept and the Suicide Squad itself has a cool roster. Harley Quinn, Killer Croc, Captain Boomerang (or as I now call him, Deadpool lite), the Enchantress, Deadshot, El Diablo, and at least one character who I completely forget (she is some sort of ninja assassin or some shit, they keep her details mum on purpose, but apparently her dead husband lives inside her sword, so there is that). A wacky ensemble of wise-cracking bad guys hired by Amanda Waller to do the dirty work in the DCU. And the cast behind some of those characters are great as well. Jared Leto steals the show as The Joker, though his screen time is severely limited. He had a very different energy as The Joker. If Heath Ledger’s Joker was heroin, Jared Leto’s Joker is cocaine. There is no better way for me to explain it. But do not go in comparing him. Judging this Joker on his own mad merits is half the fun of the film. And Margot Robbie shines as Harley Quinn, but mostly in the scenes with her and Joker. Outside of that, she felt a little bit like the movie’s sex toy, TBH, and it played up that angle as much as it could, with ass shot after ass shot. One of the first things we hear her character say is “I sleep with who I want” and that, in itself, is not something the character (born from the animated show) would say, but I get it, DC wants to be gritty. It’s cool. Not saying it works, but I know what they are trying to achieve and it is within their right to attempt do so.

I will say this, when it comes to cars and girlfriends, this Joker’s game is strong AF.

I will say this, when it comes to cars and girlfriends, this Joker’s game is strong AF.

Will Smith was also good as Deadshot, but the one problem was, he Will Smith’d it too much. Deadshot is not like Deadpool at all, and this Deadshot was just too cool and charismatic, which felt an AWFUL LOT like The Fresh Prince walked into a gritty DC role. The rest of the cast were passable, with El Diablo (played by Jay Hernandez) being one of the best (and least utilized) characters on the team. His angst felt genuine, but all the other angst felt tacked on. Also, note sure how react to that “Tom Hardy meets Deadpool” impression that Jai Courtney was doing, but he did seem like he was having fun, at least.

Now for those who want to know about the story, well, that is where the movie falls apart. Just like Dawn of Justice, this movie wanted to tell nine different stories all at the same time, and the end result feels like some great characters were put into the wrong film. The movie just jumped all over the place, from flashbacks to shootouts to love stories, but it did so jarringly. it just feels like DC were, once again, throwing everything at the screen hoping it all would stick, but only bits and pieces did. The pieces that did stick (Joker and Harley, Squad origins) worked really well, but all the other stuck tacked on top of it made it feel like a soup with far too many ingredients to be enjoyable. 

Now had they forgone the Suicide Squad angle completely and made this a Joker and Harley Quinn movie, DC woulda had gold on their hands right now. I am kind of hoping that do that next (SPOILER ALERT: they left us with an ending that hinted they could). Problem was, DC is lost when it comes to their cinematic Universe right now. To say anything else is to lie. My editor-in-chief, Carlton Boyd, said it best to me this week in a conversation we were having about Suicide Squad and DC’s overall cinematic ventures lately:

If DC wants to make a 'gritty' film as opposed to Marvel's movies, they should study Nolan's first two Batman movies and Netflix's Marvel shows (DD, Jessica Jones).

Boom, it REALLY is that simple. Nolan nailed the tone of Batman in his trilogy (3rd film excluded for being a mess) and Marvel’s Netflix shows do ‘gritty’ fantastical and they make it seem effortless. DC is like that kid you went to school with who tried really hard to be cool and now he is the grown up idiot walking around with Ed Hardy clothes and still covered in tribal tattoos. Which is weird to say because I am a huge DC fan boy (seriously) so this is killing me. Don’t think this was all easy for me to say, because as a fan, it wasn’t.

One thing I do want to make clear, though. This movie is far better than Dawn of Justice. I know they are about equal on Rotten Tomatoes, but Suicide Squad is a ride worth taking if you are a Joker fan and/or want to see a different side of the DCU. Thing is, it does not meet the potential it had, and I think that is what left most people disappointed here. A lot of DC fans have been up in arms lately (a little self righteously, I might add) about the reviews this film is getting and those people need to understand something. No matter what people may think to the opposite, no one LIKES giving a bad review (unless they are a sociopath or an asshole) to a movie they wanted to see. Some fans are acting like it is reviewers fault bad DC movies are coming out. 

Um, no. 

Bad DC movies are coming out. We are simply the messengers being killed and skewered for saying it out loud. The fact here is, DC came to the movie universe too late this time. They really did. People are on the verge of super hero burnout from Marvel's three phases we have watched (and enjoyed for the most part, with the exception of a few X-Men and Fantastic Flaw movies) and we are truly reaching “superhero movie burnout.” Also, DC, can we talk about that soundtrack? Yes, it looked good on paper, but the constant, unrelenting, ‘cool’ music felt a little too forced and too “Guardians of the Galaxy” to work here, just being honest. Someone has to have the balls to tell you this stuff.

Add the simple fact that DC is not sure what direction to go with their movies right now (do we wanna be funny? Do we wanna be gritty? Can we be both?) and you have what is essentially a cocktail that has far too many different liquors in it to actually taste good.
Again make no mistakes, I did not detest the film. But to the same degree, I didn’t love it, either. And for something this big and this hyped, I needed to love it. Again, some great scenes (opening and Joker and Harley's Origin, particularly) but it was all a bit bogged down and dry.

But I will say this: Keep your eyes on Jared Leto’s Joker, because Leto just might be DC’s saving grace right now.

Suicide Squad Pros: 

Great character roster

Visually appealing

Mostly good performances

Keeps a decent pace

Joker is wicked and unique

Suicide Squad’s Cons (pun intended as they are literal cons in the film):

Batfleck is in it

3D added nothing to overall film

VERY VERY VERY VERY VERY VERY long (DC, you need to work on this, 3 hours movies are not okay)

Story was a convoluted mess

Tried too hard to be gritty and funny at once, in turn, failing at both

The movie CLEARLY does not understand the severity of helicopter crashes, as all characters get in at least 8 heli crashes and survive without a bruise or an explanation

“Tryhard” soundtrack

Overall Grade: C+

Suicide Squad passes because it keeps you watching and keeps you entertained, but the convoluted story and bloated runtime squeeze a good deal of the fun out of the experience. Had there been more Joker screen time and a tighter script, I could see giving this a B or maybe even higher.

 

Remy Carreiro is the rarest Pokemon of all. No one can catch him, not even child services.
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