After Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice, I have a bone-deep weariness about anything DC tries to bring the big screen. Clearly they’re trying to get as many properties on screen as possible to see what works and what doesn’t and that, yee Distinguished Competition yee, is a terrible idea. But hey, David Ayers has made a few decent films and they’ve got a cast that if used properly might just be able to turn this into something that doesn’t resemble Juggalo Avengers.
Suicide Squad is a step forward for DC, just not a very good step forward. When the film was announced a few years back – amongst thirty other films DC was hoping to produce in the next decade – it was supposed to be the segue film that would sate DC-hungry fans while the next piece of their Justice League opus was being produced. But, BvS was a, frankly, terrible film forcing DC to reconfigure the whole future of its franchise and thrusting Suicide Squad into the “I’m going to fix your entire shared universe” spotlight. It isn’t a good place for any film to be in, and it bodes especially poorly for the very messy, very scattered Suicide Squad. This is basically the anti-Avengers: shadowy government official Amanda Waller (Viola Davis in a chilling performance) knows that in the wake of Superman’s life and death, that a new wave of meta-human threats are going to start popping up more, so she knows that she’s going to need a Black Ops team of her own “meta-humans” to push back. Thus, she gathers a team of the worst supervillains around – the “Suicide Squad” of the title – to do the bad things that need to be done to keep the world spinning. It’s pretty much The Dirty Dozen with supervillains. Well, The Dirty Dozen with supervillains and a confusing muddled plot that leaves a selection of good performances adrift in a movie that happily slips into the worst tropes of a superhero film. There’s good to be had here: Margot Robbie’s Harley Quinn is off-kilter in a truly endearing way and Will Smith’s Deadshot is a legitimate character with a solid narrative on which to build a film on. There’s bad too: Jared Leto’s Joker is a non-entity, a sort of 80s crimelord with shitty tats and a cackling laugh. As John Laird told me, you could remove this character from the film and nothing would come of it. Mostly though, the film is just mediocre, a melange of overly-familiar scenes broken up by nonsensical action, who-gives-a-fuck story developments, and a pair of bad guys who look pulled from a PS1 Conan the Barbarian game. There are storylines and reveals in this film that clearly had different endings in some other cut, but because this film needed to be exactly what it is, all of it just feels mashed together into a bizarre mix that almost works if you look at it very broadly. However, as soon as you start digging past the visuals and the snappy dialogue and the weirdness, the whole thing just collapses. Somehow though, and I think DC should thank BvS for being so pointedly awful, you don’t walk away from this film hating it, you walk away feeling like hey, DC seems to be making some steps in the right direction. Which, in a summer season that has produced next to nothing good, is almost a positive review.
One Last Thing:
David Ayers needs to get someone to edit his soundtracks. This is a relentlessly loud and obnoxious film. Just one song after another song slammed onto the screen, always in service of announcing some crazy new thing. It made me feel like an old man.
One Other Last Thing:
This movie is going to kill with a certain crowd. The audience I saw this film with ate it up from start to finish, cheering at every moment of, well, anything. Lord help us.
And One Other Last Thing:
I really think that at this point in time we can start making comparisons between Trump and Hillary and DC and Marvel. DC wants to lay its underformed wang on the table and just shock people into giving a shit about its films. While Marvel, though still occasionally dropping the ball, is like Hillary, forged in the fires of birthing a new world of shared universes, a big, slick machine everyone’s always waiting on to fail. Am I right?