Suicide Squad: First Thoughts

On paper Suicide Squad sounds a dream. Talented cast? Tick. Capable director? Check. Tried and tested Box Office formula? Should be. It was meant to be really good. Since its release last Thursday we’ve quickly come to learn that it’s actually not as good as we had hoped. It is fun though; the type of fun that Tim Burton’s Batman achieved, the so-bad-it’s-good type that we like to loathe. Suicide Squad is far from loathsome but it’s even further from the cinematic perfection that its audience were promised.

In hindsight the film’s woes began with its overwrought marketing campaign. Too many trailers, too much teasing – it made us look forward to a feature we weren’t delivered. We were promised bad guys forced to do good and we expected Christopher Nolan style grit, but grittier.  David Ayer seemed a good choice as director, too. He wrote Training Day, directed Fury, and now was his opportunity to turn comic book antiheroes into cinema’s favourite foes, and he scratches the surface but never attains the greatness he strives for.

The film is driven by an almost constant soundtrack made up of everything from Eminem to Queen and if you are wondering whether the pair should be put together in the same movie, the answer would be no. At times the score is completely effective in setting a particular tone, but more often than not it’s misjudged and poorly timed. Dialogue is written with any lack of realism and the comic book cliches are clear and present. Ayer directs and writes with such force in other instances, even if they aren’t as appreciated as they should be, but as a director o

the cast of suicide squad

the cast of suicide squad

f the DC universe he seems to become a filmmaker without a clear vision.

Thus far the main criticism has been aimed at the clunky nature of the narrative, and the whole run time is a series of episodic scenes that don’t fit together as seamlessly as they could. Predominately set over just one night, there’s potential for a flowing plot-line but it gives way to scene after scene of badly-shot action that doesn’t hold our focus. The finale isn’t easy on the eyes and the main villain (who is only really given real screen time at this point) looks a lot like he belongs in The Cabin in the Woods – only it worked there and it doesn’t here.

It’s not all bad though. The ensemble cast works well together and Margot Robbie, Jared Leto and Jai Courtney are fantastic. Viola Davis is on form, as always, as the sinister government official who is keen to let the bad-guys do her bidding. Leto isn’t featured as much as he should be, but he’s electric as a mob-style Joker who seems to be running a successful criminal empire. For the first time we see the cult foe in love, and it’s a sub-plot that is both intriguing and rather concerning as we see him plunge into an acid bath with his partner-in-crime Harley Quinn. He’s her Puddin’. Robbie is sensational as his female counterpart; she’s cheeky and alluring, yet vulnerable as she quietly portrays emotion, successfully sparking a reaction. There’s a whole Joker/Harley backstory that is captivating in itself and with a little more development it could have been a stellar addition to the narrative. It’s the same for any of the Squad’s stories, the timeline of their imprisonments and abilities are mentioned but never fully acknowledged which would do to lift the story tenfold if time were taken to get to grips with our meta-humans.

Despite its flaws, of which there are too many to state here, Suicide Squad still holds its audience. We rant about how disappointed we are, yet most of us want to run back to the cinema to see it again. There’s a definite style to the antihero flick, David Ayer just isn’t sure what he wants that style to be. Some moments are unintentionally funny, and others are cool as hell, but as one flowing piece of cinema it just doesn’t work. Yet, I want for more.

One thing is for certain: Suicide Squad is entirely captivating, even if it’s for the wrong reasons.

 

 

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Four reasons Suicide Squad already looks like a winner

DC’s Extended Universe and its Suicide Squad inhabitants won’t see its cinematic debut until August 2016, but audiences are already eagerly awaiting the date. With the Comic Con trailer receiving a wave of applause from both critics and DC fans, and naysayers basically won-over, David Ayer’s foray into super villains and Belle Reve is looking set to be a box-officer breaker and audience favourite. Why are spectators expecting such a good production? Here, I give you four solid reasons as to why Suicide Squad is already channeling a winning confidence.

1) Bad-ass villains as the protagonists

There’s nothing wrong with watching Batman or Spider Man save their respective cities. Superheros are generally loved – Avengers: Age of Ultron‘s whopping $1.398 billion box-office taking exemplifies the pleasure and enjoyment audiences gain from watching their favourite good-guy serving up justice amongst the likes of Electro and Penguin. But, what excites viewers here, is the thought of the tables being turned as they get to delve deep into the makings of, and bat-shit crazy minds of, some of DC’s darkest criminals. In Ayer’s Suicide Squad fans will watch as the likes of Harley Quinn, Slipknot, and Enchantress protect society against rogue villains – they might be being forced to do it by some super seedy government officials, but its all relative. No longer the characters you are meant to loath, you’ll be invited deep into their clique, as their back-stories and criminal enterprising become the centre focus of Ayer’s feature.

2) An ensemble cast to rival the best in old and new talent

the cast of suicide squad

the cast of suicide squad

Not to suggest that Will Smith and Viola Davis are getting old (ahem), but Suicide Squad boasts a stand-out cast of veteran acting talent, as well as a host of fresh new faces who have more then proved their worth on the silver screen. Performances that stuck out in the initial trailer include the apparent acrobat enthusiast Harley Quinn, played here by the compelling actress (and beauty) Margot Robbie – known for her Hollywood breakout in The Wolf of Wall Street – Mr Smith as marksmen Deadshot (get set for family flash-backs and a loveable rogue with this one), and – it likely goes without saying – Jared Leto as The Joker. Portrayed many times on the big screen by actors who were established for their diverse roles, the latter is an iconic character who is already loved amongst DC fans. Featuring for less then a minute at the end of the trailer, and seen in a still from the film, Leto’s Joker is Marylin Manson in look (soz, Marylin) and Heath Ledger-esque in sound. The difference here? It’s likely this clown will be R-rated, oh, and involved in a strange romance with Robbie’s Quinn – that adds a whole other dimension in itself. Jay Hernandez deserves a shout, too. Sporting facial tattoos and a bad temper (and that’s putting it lightly), the actor as El Diablo doesn’t feature too heavily in the initial trailer but the character is looking like one to watch come release.

3) The August 2016 release

It might seem like a bit of a weird reason as to why suicide Squad is promising big things, but simply, David Ayer and Warner Bros. Pictures aren’t rushing this one. It’s common that these big blockbusters get lumped with a huge budget, a short production process, and a quick release. Why? To bring in the dollar. It makes sense in terms of money-making, but it can often lead to a rushed, and lacking, final feature. What fans are seeing here is a good-looking and well-thought out trailer from a film that won’t meet its release for another year. If it’s looking like an epic at this stage, it’ll more than likely genuinely impress upon its debut – and look somewhat better than it already does. Good stuff, huh?

4) David Ayer taking the helm

The director attached as both helmer and writer basically speaks for itself. Known for critically applauded, and intimate explorations of strong character-driven stories, don’t expect an effects-centred feature. While it is likely that Suicide Squad will be effects heavy, fans won’t be left with all style and no substance, not with Ayer on board. Known for his South Central narratives in Training Day and Harsh Times, and last years war epic Fury, the director never does the same thing twice. Adding a new string to his bow with a comic book adaptation here, Ayer brings grit and adult content to the kind of adaptation that usually targets a youth audience.