Suicide Squad (2016)

  • Time: 130 min
  • Genre: Action | Adventure | Comedy
  • Director: David Ayer
  • Cast: Will Smith, Jared Leto, Margot Robbie


It feels good to be bad…Assemble a team of the world’s most dangerous, incarcerated Super Villains, provide them with the most powerful arsenal at the government’s disposal, and send them off on a mission to defeat an enigmatic, insuperable entity. U.S. intelligence officer Amanda Waller has determined only a secretly convened group of disparate, despicable individuals with next to nothing to lose will do. However, once they realize they weren’t picked to succeed but chosen for their patent culpability when they inevitably fail, will the Suicide Squad resolve to die trying, or decide it’s every man for himself?


  • Undeniably disappointing but not without glimmers of promise, Suicide Squad yet again shows that Warner Brothers is still struggling in its attempts to build the DC Extended Universe. It may be a broken record by this point, but it bears repeating that Marvel has proven itself peerless when it comes to crafting the universe, developing and integrating its characters, and appealing to a broader audience whilst still ensuring its fanboys are satisfied. One can argue over the quality of their output, but there is no denying the simple fact that Marvel has a keen understanding not only of its overall brand narrative but the individual stories that comprise that brand.

    As with last year’s Fantastic Four reboot from 20th Century Fox, Suicide Squad comes with tales of behind-the-scenes scrambling. After the critically and commercially disappointing showing for Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (it hasn’t even cleared 900 million worldwide!) earlier this March, Warner Brothers reportedly edited its own version of Suicide Squad, pitted its version against director David Ayer’s cut, and released an end product that was a compromised mash of the two. Both Ayer and Jared Leto, who plays the Joker, have spoken of numerous scenes being taken out. Batman v Superman experienced the same situation though to a far lesser degree; director Zack Snyder’s extended 3-hour cut is supposed to be a far more coherent telling than what hit the theaters. Conflicts between studio heads and directors are nothing new, but they shouldn’t be evident in the final result nor should audiences need a director’s cut or an extended version to actually understand what they already paid good money for months earlier. If Suicide Squad conveys one thing with clarity, it’s that behind-the-scenes confusion. With its messy narrative, shifting tonality, nondescript action scenes, and plain awkwardness of execution, it resembles nothing less than a car crash caught on film. Yet car crashes have their moments of beauty…

    Suicide Squad, essentially a riff of Seven Samurai and The Dirty Dozen, centers around the assemblage of a group of supervillains by federal agent Amanda Waller (Viola Davis), whose badassery rivals that of everyone combined. Picking up where Batman v Superman left off, Waller believes that gathering a team of sociopaths is the best defense against any potential threats the world or the universe has to offer. Superman may have been a metahuman, she tells the suits at the Pentagon, but he at least shared their values. What if the next Superman doesn’t?

    Thus we’re introduced to the members of the Suicide Squad, most of whom are holed up in the super-maximum security prison called Belle Reve. There’s Deadshot (Will Smith), the world’s deadliest sniper whose weakness is his young daughter. There’s the heavily tattooed former gangbanger El Diablo (Jay Hernandez), who refuses to ever wield his pyromaniacal skills again after a tragic incident with his wife and children. The Aussie Boomerang (Jai Courtney) is a deranged, possibly alcoholic thief who was caught by the Flash (Ezra Miller in a blink-and-miss cameo) whilst Killer Croc (Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje) is a reptile-skinned mutant whose underwater skills will be of value at some point. There’s also scientist June Moon (Cara Delevingne, a striking presence but so far out of her depth here), who is inhabited by the spirit of The Enchantress, a centuries-old witch who, according to Waller, is more powerful than anything they’ve ever known. Waller possesses the heart of the Enchantress, which affords her control over June (who is understandably reluctant to turn into the evil spirit) and, by extension, Colonel Rick Flag (Joel Kinnaman), the man assigned by Waller to keep the squad in line and who happens to be hopelessly in love with June. He also has the sword-wielding Katana (Karen Fukuhara) by his side for added protection.

    And then there is Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie), the best and most compelling of the crew. A former psychiatrist assigned to the Joker, Harley is rendered looney tunes by her love for the green-haired gangster clown, allowing herself to be electroshocked and drowned in a vat of acid in order to convince him of her devotion. They become the Tony Montana and Elvira of Gotham City, their dysfunctional and abusive union severed when Batman (Ben Affleck) ruins date night, punches Harley in the face, and locks her up in Belle Reve. Harley is arguably the deadliest of them all, far outpacing her beau in sheer crazy and more fearless than the tough guys that surround her. Decked out in the hottest of hot pants, a tattered tee with “Daddy’s Little Monster” written across it, a jacket with “Property of the Joker” on its back, and brandishing a baseball bat, Robbie can’t help but steal the show on looks alone but she transfixes with her performance as well, never ignoring the tragic figure beneath the saucy and sarcastic facade. Leto barely keeps up with her; his portrayal is all cackle and little else.

    Suicide Squad is one of the most exposition-heavy comic book films in recent memory. Most everyone gets an introduction and back story, most of which is made redundant by the musical cues that tell you everything you need to know about the characters. If those musical tracks aren’t enough for you, there’s Waller’s explanations. If those still aren’t enough for you, then there are the flashbacks that occur throughout the film. You can argue that it was a near-impossible task to establish so many characters in so little time and still have room left to tell an actual story. You can point to the fact that Iron Man, Captain America and Thor were introduced in individual films before The Avengers came to pass. And yet there is Guardians of the Galaxy, which also dealt with second-string characters that were completely divorced from any previous films. Guardians may have had less characters to corral, but those characters were clearly defined, you understood what they were fighting for and who they were fighting against, and you weren’t saddled with back stories that stuttered the overall pacing of the film.

    Suicide Squad suffers from the overload – Boomerang and Killer Croc could have easily been jettisoned, not to mention Katana – as well as a boring set of villains who would not have been out of place in any Ghostbusters film (in fact, the film often plays like a Ghostbusters rehash) and tremendously murky plotting. That murkiness extends to the cinematography and set design. There’s nothing wrong with embracing the darkness of the material and the characters, but is it too much to ask for the action to be visible? Then again, the action sequences are so generic that the shadows and fog may have been increased to hide how unimaginative they are. Ayer moves his characters from one indistinguishable set to another, from one noisy and chaotic battle to another, but the movie itself never gains any genuine momentum. For a film about teamwork, the squad never completely gels – the moment when they supposedly become a team is never as rousing as it ought to be. It’s an odd viewing experience, somewhat akin to a tranquilised acid trip.

    The film is sure to make money, but will it leave you wanting more? Yes, but only if Margot Robbie is front and center. Otherwise, Warner Brothers should take the advice of one of the film’s own characters and shut the whole thing down.

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  • Earlier this year, Zack Snyder helmed Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. Now with Suicide Squad (my latest review), he is the de facto executive producer of 2016’s second, DC Comics endeavor. Snyder has always been a good director visually but his storytelling comes off as sort of suspect. You can tell that he had heavy influence over what went into “Squad’s” two-hour plus running time. Yeah it might be David Ayer shooting this film but Snyder’s trademarks are all over it. Ayer is more of a blitzkrieg filmmaker, a cops and robbers guy, Mr. Machismo. With “Squad”, we’re a long way from his stylish writing in Training Day and his assertively-violent, Street Kings.

    Obviously inspired by 1981’s Escape From New York (the anti-heroes have bombs implanted in their necks) and containing a classic rock song to accompany almost every clip (if I hear “Sympathy for the Devil” one more time in a movie I’m gonna lose it), Suicide Squad has a PG-13 rating which sort of keeps it from being ultra-nasty. Regardless, it’s still a scuzzbucket of a motion picture, complete with dirty colors, unbearable loudness, and more flashbacks than Oklahoma tornadoes. The simple blueprint for a superhero diegesis is there. Five comic book criminals who are all serving long prison sentences, get a chance at leniency by going on a black ops mission via a city that looks like Chicago, Illinois (actually it’s a mixture of Chi-Town and parts of Ontario, Canada). Too bad David Ayer clutters “Squad” with uneven character introductions, add-on subplots, and an underdeveloped Joker (played with kooky abandon by Jared Leto) that feels like its in a separate flick altogether.

    Bottom line: You can call this thing The Dirty “Cousins”. Suicide Squad has slow-motion, samurai action setups and deep-seated shootout sequences that are anywhere between slipshod and sufficient. In terms of the acting, well inmate Will Smith as a hired assassin, caged inmate Margot Robbie as a crazed psychiatrist, and ratboy Jay Hernandez as a human flame thrower, give decent performances. However, they spout one-liners, make speeches, and emote with their scenes seeming out of place and not quite sticking. That’s because “Squad” is an editing calamity. It was reported that the film needed reshoots to make things more humorous and less dark. You can tell.

    Anyway, I saw “Dawn of Justice” a second time and it sort of flowed better. I almost changed my mind about recommending Batfleck’s, Bruce Wayne debut. I plan on seeing “Squad” a second time as well in hopes that I’ll reach that same dissertation. Until then, I’ll have to give it a mixed review. Rating: 2 stars.

    Rating: 2 out of 4 stars

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  • Ever since Marvel Studios began expanding their films into more shared universes, a trend has begun to follow among other production companies. The most obvious of competitors would be Warner Bros. DC but there are others. Another franchise that is supposedly expanding its cinematic universe is Michael Bay’s Transformers (2007) franchise. The concept is a common thing now among high-end money making movie properties. However this is no secret for Warner Brothers. After losing their chance to reinvigorate their universe with Green Lantern (2011), DC tried again with Man of Steel (2013) and finally brought themselves back from a long period of dormancy. So in order to catch up to Marvel’s output, the next choice was making Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016). It certainly brought the studio up to speed but whom are they fooling? There were a lot of missteps taken to get there. Adding to that is this movie which promisingly looked like DC’s Guardians of the Galaxy (2014), but with villains. Sadly this was not as great as one would hope.

    This is actually rather shocking considering the cast and crew involved. Crediting himself as writer/director is David Ayer, the same man who headed praiseworthy projects like End of Watch (2012) and Fury (2014). The story is based on the comic about Amanda Waller (Viola Davis) recruiting the worst villains from Arkham Asylum to fight what the regular military would or could not defeat. That means bringing on Deadshot (Will Smith), Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie), Capt. Boomerang (Jai Courtney), El Diablo (Jay Hernandez), Killer Croc (Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje), June Moone AKA Enchantress (Cara Delevingne), Slipknot (Adam Beach) and Katana (Karen Fukuhara) under the command of Rick Flag (Joel Kinnaman) to take down a powerful force that only they can stop. Meanwhile on the side, the Joker (Jared Leto) is up to no good looking to find a way to break his joker queen out of the iron grasp of Amanda Waller. Initially this sounds fine but the story lacks structure.

    Close to the start, the conflict begins and the suicide squad is sent out to pacify it. Yet before this even happens, Amanda Waller assembled them to take care of a different reason. This different reason is completely dropped once the main struggle arises. So what was the original mission they were going to be sent on? It’s never answered. Either that or editor John Gilroy put the scenes in the wrong order. And Gilroy has been the editor to a number of popular films like Salt (2010) and Pacific Rim (2013). So what gives? Along with that are some backstories that are briefly skimmed over. Why? This film has a two hour run time; Guardians of the Galaxy (2014) has the exact same. Nonetheless even with these written issues, the actors perform well in their roles and are likable to a certain degree. Some of them even have more human backstories than one would expect. The costume/character designs are also commendable. For once, these characters have some color in their suits and aren’t so dark and brooding like Bats or Sups.

    Speaking of which, Ben Affleck as the caped crusader does have a few scenes throughout the movie. Is it worth it? Sort of from a narrative standpoint but in other ways it just feels like Batman was put in to have more people view the film. The action at least entertains for the most part as well. Deadshot’s ability to be precise in every round he shoots is awesome. Katana use of the sword is sharper than your average kitchen knife (of course). El Diablo knows how to heat up people’s nights with his powers and Harley Quinn’s gymnastic acrobatics certainly make her a special addition. Regrettably this does not make up for the sections that have CGI overload. Thankfully it does not get as bad as Batman V Superman with its almost PS2 gameplay like cut scenes, but there are still unnecessary moments. Whether it’s the adversary the suicide squad has to fight against or even if it’s digitally editing Harley Quinn to have booty shorts. It just seems like wasted amounts where this particular effect is abused for the wrong reasons.

    Roman Vasyanov was chosen to provide the cinematography to this picture. Vasyanov also worked with Ayer on End of Watch (2012) and Fury (2014). This shows that Vasyanov knows how to make great or accurate looking movies. Fury (2014) had great looking camerawork and End of Watch (2012) made the viewer feel like they were in the movie. None of that’s shown here. It’s strange too. With all the colorful personalities and costumes, one would think that this movie would have brighter images to show. There are about 2-3 scenes that have daylight in them. Every other scene is in the dark or it’s raining. All it does is remind the viewer of how gloomy looking the previous Zack Snyder DC films were presented. It’s frustrating. Composing the film score to this movie was Steven Price, another David Ayer collaborator. Price’s work is another disappointment. Unlike his past work in films like Fury (2014), there is no reoccurring theme for the suicide squad. And this is the perfect time to establish one for them. But that wasn’t done.

    Unlike what one would expect, this David Ayer film has its moments due to its cast, action and part of its writing, but that’s all it can be given. The music isn’t memorable, the camerawork doesn’t match the colorful characters or tone and the overall plot doesn’t make sense for a two-hour film.

    Points Earned –> 5:10

  • “What was that? I should kill everyone and escape? Sorry, it’s the voices. Ahaha, I’m kidding! That’s not what they really said.”

    “FUCK YOU, MARVEL,” announced overconfident Suicide Squad writer/director David Ayer at the movie’s world premiere in New York earlier this week. He’s now eating his words.

    Suicide Squad is the unconventional superhero film desperately needed in the DC universe (or universe in general) to combat the superhero fatigue everyone is experiencing. What made this project so unique is that it is the first movie in the series of DC adaptations that is not directed by Zack Snyder. Sounds perfect, right??

    With the disappointment of Batman v Superman, Warner Brothers felt responsible for proving to the world that they had a firm handle on DC Comics characters. They needed a box office hit fast. Suicide Squad was intended to be their saving grace, but with re-shoots and severe tinkering, their sticky little fingers fudged any possibility of redemption. Warner Brothers only has themselves to blame for the film’s 32% on Rotten Tomatoes.

    The hype surrounding this movie has been astronomical. Since it’s killer teaser trailer at last year’s San Diego Comic Con, Suicide Squad was my most anticipated movie of 2016. And their marketing campaign has been building the hype-train heavily for a solid year…more exposure than I can remember from a movie. The problem with movies like this one with such a deep-rooted fan base is that expectations are inconceivably insane. It’s a rarity to please both the fanboys and the critics with comic book source material, but whether it’s positive or negative, everyone is talking about this movie.

    A secret government agency recruits imprisoned supervillains to execute a dangerous black ops mission in exchange for shorted prison sentences and some additional perks. They’re the bad guys, the worst of the worst, but this is their opportunity to use their skills for some good. In short, save the world.

    Richard Lawson at Vanity Fair called it: “A shapeless, poorly edited trudge that adds some mildly appalling sexism and even a soupçon of racism to its abundant, hideously timed gun worship.”

    Some of the more laughable reviews come from Buzzfeed: “The women can’t control themselves and they’re always dragging down the men around them.” Lol. Somewhere Viola Davis is internally screaming and rightfully so. Looks like Buzzfeed didn’t do their comic book homework.

    Marvel raised the bar earlier this year with Deadpool crushing the box office ($782 million) and breaking records. Not only did it prove that an anti-hero could slay the screen, but it also could be done with an R-rating, a first for the X-Men film series, and the highest grossing R-rated film of all time.

    “I just wanted to play with the genre. That was in a pre-Deadpool world and the movies had been so serious and straightforward up to that point. I wanted to do something where it was much more based on actor performance and character. Those films sometimes feel a little posy, talkey, the actors are very stiff, just kind of delivering the lines and very expositional. I just wanted to do something with more soul and grit and dirt.” Director David Ayer via Deadline

    After writing Training Day and directing films like End Of Watch and Fury, David Ayer has taken a shift toward the superhero universe, but with a different approach to the franchise.

    “You know, all these movies are about defeating the evil alien robot from f*cking Planet X, before it destroys the world with its ticking clock. And who the f*ck cares? But you do a story about struggle and isolation and people who have been shit on, that suddenly get thrown this lifeline… that’s not so bad. I like to think of this as Comic-Book Movie 2.0.” David Ayer via MoviePilot

    Though the studio believed there was enough time to get the movie done, a source with ties to the project says it was a sprint from the start. “[Ayer] wrote the script in like, six weeks, and they just went,” he says, arguing that the whole process would have benefited if Ayer had been given more time to work. More time for the grit and dirt was never delivered, and I’m devastated that I didn’t get to see that film.

    Pulses dropped and anxiety ensued with fans when the film underwent significant re-shoots in the spring to boost up the “fun” factor. Rumors suggested that Warner Brothers wanted a lighter movie, while Ayer’s original cut was more dark and sombre. That’s the final cut audiences needed, but the studio came to an agreement to meet in the middle and balance the tones. Thus, the PG-13 rating sealed it’s fate.

    The final product is choppy, unbalanced and misdirected. There’s some great humor that previous DC films lack, but coherency and structure were nowhere to be found. It’s very obvious now when you watch this where Warner Brothers tweaked the script, or even how the script feels rushed. But it’s a fun movie. It may be riddled with flaws, but strong performances by Margot Robbie, Will Smith, Jared Leto and even Jai Courtney saved the film for me. The rest of the squad? Almost pointless and forgettable.

    If you’re looking to be marveled with scenes from Joker’s Jared Leto, don’t hold your breath too hard. He’s not in the film as much as I’d hoped, and that’s a mistake. It also doesn’t help that almost every Joker scene in the movie is already revealed in trailers or television spots. Joker and Harley are unquestionably the scene-stealers of the entire show; scenes between Joker and Harley are so polarizing that you wonder why David Ayer didn’t focus more on them? Why couldn’t the script make them the “villains” or the antagonists against the squad?

    It may not be the best in the superhero franchise, but it’s certainly oozing with some great performances that carry the film. Leto is no Heath Ledger, and no one ever will be, but his version of the loony, comedic mobster fit the bill for me. He may not resonate well with others, especially those keen to the comics, but he’ll be the least of your complaints.

    While I was hoping for a ballpark hit like Deadpool or Guardians of the Galaxy, Suicide Squad missed the mark. It just tried too damn hard to be cool. If I can applaud David Ayer and their marketing team for anything, it’s that they got a non-DC/Marvel movie fanatic to see a superhero film. They may be considered the Worst. Heroes. Ever., but this certainly isn’t the worst movie ever. Critics and trolls alike need to take many seats.

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