I know that there were probably tons of discussions about making this one an R-Rating because it would be "cool." PG-13. R wouldn't have made it any better. If anything, it would just make it more EXTREEEMMMMMEEEE!
DIRECTOR: David Ayer
Do you understand how hard it was to find a high quality still from this movie that wasn't clearly a publicity shot or something overused in the trailer. I had to settle for that pic above. The aspect ratio is all wrong on it, but it almost doesn't seem posed. Listen, Suicide Squad, I didn't love you to begin with. It makes me dislike you even more when I have to deal with over advertisement.
Suicide Squad is the first of the big budget superhero movies I refused to see in theaters. Man of Steel had a fantastic trailer and I thought it was going to be brilliant. It wasn't. Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice also had solid trailers, but I had the sneaking suspicion that it was going to be terrible. It was. Suicide Squad had an abysmal trailer with good music and everyone swore that it was going to be great. I thought they were all crazy and I was right. The weird part is that Suicide Squad is the best movie in the DCEU. That's more of a commentary on the DCEU than it is on Suicide Squad.
Before things get too out of control and bashy, (because I know that this movie was destroyed online) I want to talk about the good things that came out of this film. The movie has a little bit more fun than its predecessors. I read one of the critiques that the soundtrack was a response to how well the trailer was received (by everyone but me). The soundtrack is mighty cool, albeit almost wholly unrelated to the events on screen. Also, that intro almost sold me. Very similar to the Fantastic Four reboot, the beginning of the movie kinda tricked me into thinkig that this movie might be way more quality than what the masses were saying. Like Fantastic Four however, the movie takes a sharp turn into Garbagetown, but I'm not there yet. The weirdest and best part of this movie is Will Smith. I don't understand Will Smith in this movie. The guy probably has his pick of characters that he could play. Marvel and DC have to have been courting this guy for a while. He's an A-List actor who is part of a weak ensemble movie? That's a very bizarre choice. On top of that, he's not playing someone like Lex Luthor or the Joker (which would have been amazing casting). He's playing Floyd Lawton aka Deadshot. Deadshot. I'm a big comics fan and I acknowledge that Deadshot is a B/C level villain. He's more of a cool costume than a cool character. He's a side story in the Arkham video games because there just isn't that much to him. But ignoring this choice, Will Smith knocks it out of the park. Smith makes his character the most engaging. While I can't say that there is a central protagonist to this movie, Smith engenders some substance into what could be a two-dimensional bad guy. I would honestly sooner watch a Will Smith helmed Deadshot movie sooner than watch a Suicide Squad sequel.
But that's about all that's really good about the movie. I don't mind a style and David Ayer is pretty clear with his stylistic choices. It's just that this movie reminded me of an Ed Hardy shirt the entire time. Everything about the aesthetics bugged the living daylights out of me. I know that there is an audience for this style, but I probably wouldn't get alone with them. Even worse, the style is covering up for the lack of content that the film clearly has a problem with. Pre-production meetings had to be filled with "Wouldn't it look cool if..." moments. And these were all just blah. I love style and I love having a clear voice, but that's all that was really going on here. This might be typical of the DCEU, helmed by Zack Snyder. Snyder is a guy who knows how to make something look really cool, but has missed the point on the emotional core of filmmaking. And its a shame. When The Dark Knight hit theaters, audiences were just starting to understand that superhero movies weren't simply defined by childhood. These weren't flat characters and they could be given depth. Perhaps the plot is bombastic, but these stories still reflected the human condition. What studios took from The Dark Knight is that "dark movies sell." Suicide Squad is the product of that studio belief.
The Joker exemplifies everything that is wrong with this movie. Honest to Pete, the movie could have simply been okay had Jared Leto's Joker not been in the movie. Everything about the character screams "trying too hard". When I saw the first images of the tattooed Joker, I gagged. But I trusted David Ayer and thought that there was a method to his madness. (Pun intended.) But he was the worst. He was the personification of Hot Topic. The Joker is meant to be terrifying because he is the unique serial killer. Instead, Jared Leto's Joker fell into every generic convention of serial killers from every other film. There was nothing unique about what I was watching. I know that it is an unfair job following Heath Ledger's Joker, but Leto was given an opportunity to mold the character into whatever he wanted. Instead, I read articles of insane method acting that led to the most bland character portrayal of all. If he was going to those insane lengths to play a character, I expected a nuanced understanding of what made the character tick. Some moments were there, but those were mostly scripted moments. Rather, having him lie down in a circle of knives told me nothing outside of the fact that he was bizarre. Inside the club, I honestly saw him more as Scarface (NOT THE BATMAN ROGUE!) than the Crowned Prince of Crime. It's a very weird and dishonest grounding of the character. As a more controversial point, I was also let down with Margot Robbie's Harley Quinn. I know she's getting her own movie, which I hope turns the character into something more interesting. But Harley wasn't charming or funny. Maybe it was the outfit that Ayer put her into, but I don't love trying to make Harley a sex object. (Now I have to yell at the Arkham games as well.) The few decent jokes were in the trailer, but I feel like Harley could have been such an opportunity that we didn't get in this one. It even teased me with a much more conservative Quinn in the flashbacks, but the blatant uncomfortableness with her outfit put a bad taste in my mouth.
As much as I want the DCEU to crash and burn so we can get a more optimistic tone to these movies, I strangely want Ben Affleck to have a successful outing as Batman. The guy is talented and passionate and these movies just are dour and sad. It's a weird thing to want only one thing to be successful, but I try not to be negative anymore.
Film is great. It can challenge us. It can entertain us. It can puzzle us. It can awaken us.
Mr. H has watched an upsetting amount of movies. They bring him a level of joy that few things have achieved.