It’s been a long five months following the release of Batman v Superman and although the reception to that movie was generally negative, fans and critics alike seemed excited by the studio’s next project: Suicide Squad. We’ve been treated to incredibly fun trailers over the last few months that highlighted the mayhem that was to ensue as we followed a team of fan-favorite villains from the DC universe. To make it even more promising, it was being helmed by a proven director with an immensely talented cast. However, over the last few days there have been mutterings of the films quality, and having now seen the film, those concerns seem to be the unfortunate reality. Suicide Squad is a convoluted, poorly written film with questionable decisions and shoddy editing around every corner.
The story follows Task Force X (aka The Suicide Squad) who have been forcefully recruited by government official Amanda Waller as a contingency plan for the potential of a meta-human attack on US soil. The idea behind this team is that it is comprised entirely of hardened criminals who could be sent into deadly combat situations without having to worry about whether or not they survive. The team, which features such names as Deadshot, Harley Quinn, and Captain Boomerang, are called upon when an unknown threat materializes in midway city, trapping an important government agent on the inside. The team is tasked with rescuing this official at all costs, and as one could imagine, not exactly everything goes according to plan.
If one were to boil down all of this film’s issues to a singular source, you’d probably find yourself pointing to the script. Not only is the writing unorganized; it’s predictable, juvenile, and at times, flat out insulting to the audience. Within the first few minutes of the film, it’s already easy to be confused as to what exactly is going on. And without prior knowledge of the characters you might find yourself struggling to keep up with the quickly paced and poorly laid out background stories that are displayed for Deadshot and Harley Quinn. To make things even more convoluted we are then given a range of too short and too long descriptions for the remainder of the team, and all without any sort of real reason for why we should care about what’s happening.
Speaking of which, the film never really lends any incentive for us to care about anything. The rapid background stories and emotional ties are never given enough time for us to latch on to, and thus when ‘stakes’ are presented, they never hold any weight. Relationships appear to build off of nothing, and motivations change for seemingly no reason at all.
The script also appears to be ‘fixing’ itself as it goes along. Characters are constantly explaining plot details to the audience in case they were lost in the chaos, and snippy one-liners are shoehorned in as a potential course correction from the studio. There’s just no sense of coherence here. The film stumbles through boring action sequences until they feel as though a plot point needs to be explained, then stumbles some more until we reach the endgame.
Surprisingly, the writing (with all of its issues) might not be entirely to blame. There’s nothing more powerful in the filmmaking process than editing, and if rumors are to be believed, Suicide Squad might have had a few too many in the editing room.
There was a sort of a cycle to this movie once it got into the real bulk of the story: comedy scene, action scene, emotional scene, one-liner, repeat. Repetition is generally never a good thing when it comes to the flow of a film, and to make matters more frustrating, it was easy to tell that the script was probably not originally written in this format, and was altered at a later date in order to purvey a certain tone. It could even be possible that the writing itself was completely lost during the editing phase, and hurt beyond repair for the film’s final cut. To describe this strange relationship; it felt as though the editors and writer were told to create completely different products, and never once matched with the vision that the director had in mind. Now whether this was studio interference or just a miscommunication, I’m not sure. The end result, however, speaks for itself.
Finally, the biggest topic that you will likely read about online is the portrayal of characters and how close to the source material this adaptation was. Personally, I believe this is irrelevant, as creativity and artistic interpretation should never be considered as reasons for why a piece of art is not ‘good’. These can be seen as reasons to why one didn’t ‘like’ a piece of art, but should be seen as non-factors when determining the quality of such pieces. No matter how you felt about Joker, Harley, Enchantress, etc.; Remember, we’d still have a flightless Superman if changes were never made.
So what’s the verdict? Is it possible to enjoy Suicide Squad? Of course it is, and I’m sure there will be plenty of you out there that do. The facts of the films fundamentals however, are much less to be desired. Writing and editing problems overwhelm any fun that might be delivered from the cast, and bland action sequences find home wherever they can fit. David Ayers’ Suicide Squad is a victim of style over substance, and falls flat as a barely legible foot note on DC’s growing cinematic universe.