Does director-writer David Ayer actually know what these bad guys really do?
Great marketing campaign and promotional trailers, unfortunately it did not live up to the expectations. DC made the same mistake again trying to rush too much with too many characters in a single film and turned out a mess, assuming its audiences are already familiar with the comics. I was one of the very few among my peers who actually enjoyed Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice and found its flaws forgivable. This one, sadly, got me utterly disappointed and frustrated more than anything else.
Set right after the events in Batman v Superman, the government is aware and afraid that the next Superman might not be a friendly as the one who has just sacrificed himself to defeat Doomsday. High ranking official Amanda Waller (Viola Davis) proposes to set up Task Force X (a.k.a. Suicide Squad), a team of some of the world's most dangerous supervillains in prison, to save the world when a serious threat emerges and blame it on them if anything goes wrong. Funny thing about the plot is that its main antagonists is triggered by Waller's attempt to kickstart the project itself. And it involves an archaeologist. Reminds me of X-Men: Apocalypse. But trust me, the film's problems are far more than just the plot. The great makeups and costume designs can't save it from everything else.
Directed and written by David Ayer, a taste of his inability to develop characters is evident in his previous work, Fury (2014), and he certainly had his hands full with the bunch of popular DC supervillains that were yet to be introduced in this Extended Universe. It was unnecessary to feature this many characters in this film but Ayer and the studio simply decided to do so anyway and bloat up more than its editing could handle, resulting a choppy narrative with poor, unengaging storytelling with no sense of fluidity at all and forced character depth.
The film randomly kicks off with scenes of Deadshot (Will Smith) and Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie) in the prison, obviously wanting to establish them as the two main characters that the audience should invest in and sympathise with. The backstory of Deadshot / Floyd Lawton could've been an alternate sequel to Smith's The Pursuit of Happyness (2004) while Quinn's backstory is simply reduced brief, vague simple flashback. Yes, how she becomes crazy and in love with The Joker (Jared Leto), or simply known as "Mr. J" here, is not as well played out as I have hoped. The rest of the Squad have even simpler development despite most of them having their little flashbacks of how they got caught.
The performances of the cast are mostly decent. Will Smith (Men in Black films, Independence Day) basically went full Will Smith. Right up his alley to play the cynical, sympathetic anti-hero. Even after all his flashbacks, I still didn't get why he's such a big problem that Batman (Ben Affleck) himself is needed to catch him. However, Deadshot does have the best and coolest moments in action with his 100% gun-shooting accuracy. At least the film got this right. Margot Robbie (Legend of Tarzan, Wolf of Wallstreet) is cute and fun as Harley Quinn, but her performance strikes me as a talkative teenager who does rebellious and hardcore things once in a while just to show how cool she is. The scene where she breaks the glass to steal a handbag and says, "We're bad guys. It's what we do," is a exactly what I mean as the scenes right before and after that are completely different scenes.
Rick Flag, played by Joel Kinnaman (RoboCop remake), is sadly weak and unimposing as the Squad's leader. Cara Delevingne's (Paper Towns) display as the troubled June Moone and Enchantress is as good as her limited screen time allows her to be. Her transformation sequence is quite amazing to watch but the motivation of her character is quite the boring Apocalypse-like cliche. Jai Courtney (Terminator Genysis) is the only one that actually looks genuinely nuts as Captain Boomerang but there's not enough of him. Katana (Karen Fukuhara) is a waste of screen time as her scenes offer nothing but cheese and corn. Not going to talk about every character in the Squad but basically all these characters have conscience, honour, motivated by love and redemption, and they're never shown to be doing anything too evil or deliberately nasty to be regarded as "supervillains", which makes me wonder if Ayer actually do know what bad guys really do. Viola Davis' (The Help, Doubt) role as Amanda Waller is probably the most faithful one to comics — a tough bad ass who would kill her own people without any hesitation.
Then there's lousy version of The Joker. I understand why they need to have a different approach after Heath Ledger's unforgettably awesome performance in The Dark Knight (2008) but from how the film goes, this Joker is basically a gangster with makeup and tattoos on who kills people who stares at his girl. He's so in love that we pretty much only get to see him do things for Quinn. They crash, he disappears, she gets caught, he appears to save her, disappears again, and then reappears to save her again. I never knew The Joker cares for Harley Quinn this much! He is no where as compelling, psychotic and intelligent as the iconic villain is supposed to be. Oscar-winner Jared Leto (Dallas Buyers Club, Fight Club) does okay but unfortunately the character is poorly written and directed. Ben Affleck will now have his work cut out for him in his future solo Batman films. Fans of Christopher Weiss / Slipknot (Adam Beach) would be most displeased as his role is probably the smallest among all.
While some of the action sequences can be fun to watch despite its terrible buildups and followups, the last big showdown fight scene is quite ridiculous, almost as dumb as the fist fight finale in the recent Fantastic Four (2015). Audiences will literally have to leave their brains under their seats to believe that guns, bombs, fire, baseball bat, predictable tricks and human strength would suffice against a powerful witch. There are a lot of humour but most of them didn't work for me. Even the little scenes between Bruce Wayne and Alfred in Batman v Superman were way funnier. Suicide Squad is a mess to say the least. A cliched misfits/criminals-go-save-the-day action flick under the pretense of a crazy supervillain film.
What I would've named the film: "Con Air 2: Pursuit of DCy-ness"
Malaysian censorship: Only noticed vulgarities such as "bitch" muted for the press screening. Robbie as Quinn is hot and sexy but not overly sexualised while the violence feels pretty mild compared to Batman v Superman. Sigh, PG-13, what to do.
Second opinion: My girlfriend feels that it's not as "special" as it's marketed to be and the whole film feels very rushed with the lack of emotional depth and not to mention the cheesy ending.
Verdict: Both Man of Steel and Batman v Superman were forgivable and enjoyable to me, but not this one. The worst DC Extended Universe film to date.
Rating: 2 / 5
Based on: DC's "Suicide Squad" comics by by John Ostrander
Genre: Superhero, action
Running Time: 123 minutes
Director-writer: David Ayer
Cast: Will Smith, Jared Leto, Margot Robbie, Jai Courtney, Joel Kinnaman, Cara Delevingne, Viola Davis
Malaysia Release Date: 4 August 2016
Local Distributor: Warner Bros. Pictures Malaysia
Production: DC Entertainment, RatPac Entertainment, Atlas Entertainment
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