You bought into the promises made by the trailers, didn’t you? It’s okay to admit you watched the Suicide Squad trailers and thought finally there’s a film set in the DC Comics universe that’s figured out how to work in humor the way Marvel has with films such as Deadpool and Guardians of the Galaxy. Join the ‘Fooled by a Trailer’ club; you’re among friends here and it’s okay to confess to lowering your guard and believing what a trailer was selling. It happens to the best of us.
An hour into Suicide Squad I wanted to have a serious talk with whoever cut the trailers. The movie teased in those videos is definitely not the final cut shown in theaters. I’ve had this film at the top of my summer must-see list since that first promotional trailer arrived last year at Comic Con because, even though I absolutely should have known better, I bought into it hook, line, and sinker. Maybe I was still riding high after the sheer lunacy of Deadpool. Maybe it was just that I assumed after Batman v Superman it couldn’t get any worse. The powers that be at Warner Bros want to see DC’s Justice League succeed which meant that Suicide Squad was tasked with wiping away the bad taste left lingering following the debacle that was Batman v Superman (one of the most tedious and joyless superhero films to ever hit the big screen). Unfortunately, if Suicide Squad is indicative of what’s to come with Justice League, the DC Comics film world is in deep, deep trouble.
The first hour or so of Suicide Squad is spent setting up the supervillains who make up the squad. It also establishes Viola Davis as Amanda Waller, a government official pulling the strings and introduces Joel Kinnaman as Colonel Rick Flag, the military officer who’s charged with overseeing the squad by constantly threatening them with death. The squad itself is made up of Will Smith as Deadshot, an assassin who never, ever misses unless he means to; Jai Courtney as Boomerang, a crazy dude named after his weapon of choice; and a nearly unrecognizable Jay Hernandez as El Diablo, the tattooed fire-conjuror with a disturbing past. Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje plays Killer Croc, a villain whose talent is the ability to swim like a crocodile. (If he has any other ability, it’s not shown in the film.) Adam Beach shows up briefly as Slipknot, a villain who seems incredibly out of place among the other psychos. And Margot Robbie, the only reason to watch the film, is Harley Quinn, a former psychologist who went wacko after falling for The Joker (played by Jared Leto) who’s part of the story but not part of the Suicide Squad.
Also not technically part of the squad but a key player in the plot is archaeologist June Moone played by a horribly miscast Cara Delevingne. June’s possessed by a super powerful witch known as the Enchantress. Amanda Waller has the Enchantress’ heart locked up in a box, which is the only reason the government can control her. June’s heart is possessed in a less creepy way by Rick Flag. And while we’re on the subject of the June and Rick relationship, the 13 year age difference in actors is not only noticeable but doesn’t make any sense. A more mature actress in the role may have made the Enchantress character less angsty and more ruthless.
So, once the team’s together their big mission is to rescue someone important from a skyscraper while the Enchantress, who has managed to get loose and free her demon brother, is whipping up some sort of bizarre lightning/thundercloud-ish machine (which looks nothing like a machine but is constantly referred to as a ‘machine’) that will wipe out humanity. Why? Because people no longer worship her. Awww, poor thing. The more important question though is who thought it was a good idea to make this character, who comes across as scary as a petulant teen, the main villain in a mega-budget comic book-inspired action film? Once Suicide Squad introduces Enchantress doing a weird wobbly dance while whipping up her storm cloud weapon/machine, the film pretty much just goes to hell in a handbasket.
Suicide Squad’s tone is all over the place and every single funny moment in the film has already been revealed/ruined in the trailers and TV spots. The villain is surprisingly lame, the CG is nothing special, and with the exception of Robbie’s Harley Quinn, Suicide Squad fails to make a case for ever wanting to spend time – or money – watching any member of this ensemble again. And, look, Jared Leto’s a fine actor but he’s no Jack Nicholson or Heath Ledger. Plus, what’s the reason behind The Joker’s silver teeth? Suicide Squad also seems handcuffed by its PG-13 rating, especially when you take into consideration the fact Deadpool went with an R-rating and did just fine at the box office.
Justice League is going to have a tough row to hoe to win over audiences following Batman v Superman and now Suicide Squad. A trip back to the drawing board needs to happen and someone higher up is going to have to take a good hard look at what it is audiences actually want to throw their support – and their dollars – behind before Justice League debuts. The old saying, “Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me,” applies to the two most recent Warner Bros/DC Comics offerings. We can only hope that the other old adage, “The third time is the charm,” holds true for Justice League.
MPAA Rating: PG – 13 for sequences of violence and action throughout, disturbing behavior, suggestive content and language
Running Time: 123 minutes
Directed By: David Ayer
Release Date: August 5, 2016