In the DC Comics movie universe, a world where Superman is dead and Batman is on the prowl, a cluster of incarcerated villains has been sent on a mission. The motley crew of super-powered criminals includes Deadshot (Will Smith) and the disturbed Harley Quinn (Margot Robie), whose romance with The Joker (Jared Leto) is her motivation and downfall.
Allegedly written and directed by David Ayer, Suicide Squad is yet another summer movie that has been edited by either Edward Scissorhands or Leatherface. The editing on display is so severe, there are no full scenes, just quick bits that hardly count as moments. Few movies this season feel more tinkered with and made into an empty corporate product than this one.
All the problems of the Marvel movies are on hand, times 10. When you try to cram 10 characters into the frame, tell all of their origin stories simultaneously and give most of the actors one sentence to utter in each scene, no one wins. It wants to be Escape From New York and winds up the Battlefield: Earth of comic book movies.
The hierarchy of movie stars dooms the ensemble from the start. Smith’s Deadshot is given special attention and there’s even attempts to humanize him with a doting daughter. Smith is a vibrant movie star, even in a film this bad, but neither his character nor his performance deserve a pedestal. On the other hand, Leto’s Joker is barely in the movie and appears to have been pushed out of the story. Writing that previous sentence honestly angers me. Leto just won an Academy Award, is a risk taking, occasionally brilliant actor and a genuine rock star. His first post-Oscar work, as none other than The Joker, should be an event. The actor has a few intriguing bits but he’s barely in this and doesn’t make enough of an impression.
Ben Affleck also pops up as Batman, in scenes that could have been played by a stuntman. It’s a lousy way to use an actor whose commanding turn in the previous DC Comics adaptation was the best thing about it.
Robie steals the film and offers glimmers of comic inspiration but she’s as short changed as everyone else here. The Harley/Joker romance is a complex, disturbing plot line that deserves lengthy minutes of screen time, not a few tossed off seconds. Joel Kinnaman, Jai Courtney, Scott Eastwood and an alarmingly robotic Viola Davis are also in this. They all get blown off the screen by Robie’s short shorts.
Once the villains show up, they are almost as hard to understand as they are to root against. Instead of who will win, the lingering question I had was, who cares…about any of this? In the comic books and animated series this is based on, many of these villains are fascinating, if not engrossing figures in great stories. In this movie, they don’t connect.
As an action movie, a satire, a dark comedy and a coherent comic book movie, Suicide Squad is a disaster.
My favorite thing about this movie is the opening and closing credits, which are bright and fun. Everything in between is rubbish. Is it as bad as Batman v. Superman–Dawn of Justice? Oh, it’s much worse than that. This is Catwoman bad. I felt like an idiot for not walking out.
Speaking of idiotic, there was a widely circulated story last week that a petition was signed by over 5,000 people to shut down the Rotten Tomatoes movie critic site. Why? Because Suicide Squad fans (most of whom had yet to see the movie) were angry that the collected articles were overwhelmingly negative. Now that we’ve all had a chance to see it, let’s be clear-headed about this. There are good comic book movies and then there’s Suicide Squad.