Review: David Ayer’s ‘Suicide Squad’ is Dead On Arrival
David Ayer is the real-life Amanda Waller of this project, abandoning the capable A-List cast and setting them up for failure by butchering potential-filled performances with mindless editing and a burning trash ring of a finale.
Note from the editor: For this particular review I will be breaking away from my typical objective review format and speaking more freely about my reaction to the aforementioned film. There may be some references one could construe to be spoilers, so tread lightly if you want to maintain an untarnished viewing experience.
We’re bad guys, it’s what we do.
– Harley Quinn (played by Margot Robbie)
‘Suicide Squad’ is little more than a swirling vortex of trashy special effects, poor editing and ill-thought plot points. What was supposed to be DC’s equivalent to Marvel’s breakout hit ‘Guardians of the Galaxy’ and critical redemption after a rocky start turned out to be a mindlessly turbulent and bloated cinematic atrocity. If this was supposed to be the Marvel-ization of the DCEU, then count me out. I will take a Snyder ‘Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice’ over the senseless Joel Schumacher meets Die Antwoord on Meth drivel Ayer calls ‘Suicide Squad.’ If Ayer’s goal was to appeal specifically to hyper-hormonal 13-16 year old boys, then congratulations to Task Force X(XX). Mission accomplished.
While the talent sweepstakes of a cast including Will Smith as Deadshot, Margot Robbie as Harley Quinn, Oscar winner Jared Leto as The Joker, and Viola Davis as Amanda Waller (just to name a few) is visibly swinging for the fences, and the character adaptations are for the most part both true to the comics and with an appropriate amount cinematic liberty, the incoherent and painful pointlessness of the plot coupled with the film’s turbulent editing spoils any chance of fulfillment.
Cinematics (Cinematography, Acting, Plot, Etc.) – 2.5
The worst part of it, and this really sucks, is that all the characters themselves aren’t bad. Outside of the incoherent and disjointed plot progression and the film’s inability to decide if it’s a music video montage, art film, or action movie, the actors seemed to really capture the spirit of their comic book counterparts. Unfortunately, the editing process completely butchered any linear sense of development, with the 2 hour 3 minute runtime being treated more like a string of expanded trailers. I feel like this doesn’t let the audience see the performances, instead much of the dialogue is relegated to contrived and simplistic speeches quoting “Bad Guys” far too often and or cliche one-liners. If anything, ‘Suicide Squad’ shows that Ayer’s writing skills are cringeworthy and shallow. Films written by Max Landis (‘American Ultra’) are more put together…
While Jared Leto had rumors of mystery and intrigue surrounding his immersion into the role of the coveted clown prince of crime, his rendition of The Joker proved to be about as innovative as the burning ring of trash that vexes the team in the film. The most confusing part, is that it looks like there was some story and dialogue before the project progressed into post-production, but Ayer for some reason has masked it with heavy use of montage and flashback.
The cast members, on the surface, perfectly fit into their respective villainous roles. While big names like Smith and Robbie undoubtedly shine, the notorious Amanda Waller (Davis) and lesser-known El Diablo, played by relative-newcomer Jay Hernandez (‘Hostel’), really do their best to insert some sense of story and emotional contour. No reflection on Jared Leto’s acting ability but, as presented in the film, the Joker has never been so unamusing on screen. While Margot Robbie’s Harley Quinn had a bit more screen-time, albeit equally as uninformative, Joker’s participation was as meager at best as his vigor was fatally stifled by the heavily cut and omitted scenes. I can see a dark-hearted and nuanced Joker amidst the torrent of cuts, but unfortunately it’s far too little to even begin to re-introduce the legendary character. I won’t even get deep into how certain characters are wasted and others over-sexualized or otherwise.
Another MAJOR flaw was the fact that multiple scenes, some of which with dialogue, showcased in the trailers leading up to the film were not actually included in the film. This is mostly seen with The Joker character, making fans really wonder if the clown-smattered marketing for the film was just a lure to fill seats. Perhaps it was, or perhaps the reported re-filming due to the ‘Batman V. Superman’ fall-out left any darker-toned clips on the cutting room floor. In either case, the film ultimately feels incomplete and without a great deal of context, and sense of fluid dialogue for that matter.
Entertainment Value – 3
What Ayer intended to be a bullet soaked nightmare was just that, action for the sake of entertainment with absolutely no point or discernible story. The film almost immediately abandons the capable A-List cast in place of bloated special effects without any discernible purpose. At times, the camera work was active enough to make even Jason Bourne motion sick.
At the same time, you will not be bored. You may not be able to process it, because the action gets indiscernible and aggressive at times (think Michael Bay’s ‘Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen’), but it is definitely captivating. And the characters are pretty awesome. As a fan of comic books, and DC in particular, it was fulfilling to see the villainous squad on the big screen. Too bad the presentation itself was pitifully lackluster and uninspired.
Oh, I’m not gonna kill you. I’m just gonna hurt you. Really, really bad.
– The Joker (played by Jared Leto)
A few moments that we particularly eye-catching include the transformation scenes for Delevingne’s Enchantress. Not only does the effect showcase the duality of her ancient witch-inhabited character, but it also is really unique and comic book worthy. With the exception of Slipknot’s awkward ’90s style of scaling buildings, most of the action was real-world (within the context of a world with metahumans) and well-done.
If Ayer had managed to bridge the gap between the story and the action content, it would have made for a much more substantial and fulfilling finale. Unfortunately, the film gives audiences a lot of glitz and guts but, without a properly penned story, it ultimately fails to find glory.
Re-Watchability – 2.5
You’re joking right? To be fair, this would be something suitable as white noise – one example being ‘Suicide Squad’ on mute during a Halloween party.
Watch the official trailer for ‘Suicide Squad’ below:
- Entertainment Value
What Ayer intended to be a bullet soaked nightmare was just that, action with absolutely no point or discernible story. The film almost immediately abandons the capable A-List cast in place of bloated special effects without any discernible purpose. At the same time, you will not be bored. 'Suicide Squad' is definitely captivating. And the characters are pretty awesome. As a fan of comic books, and DC in particular, it was fulfilling to see the villainous squad on the big screen. Hopefully the franchise will survive long enough to see proper cinematic treatment, and perhaps (read 'hopefully') with a different director. Just keep your expectations low and it's worth a watch.
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