Review: Self harm hampers Suicide Squad
by The Dark Knight

For a film that features a bunch of rag-tag convicts, Suicide Squad is safe and straightforward.

The concept of bad versus evil elicited a positive reception from me upon the film’s initial announcement. This optimism continued when the trailers were released. The optimism soon became genuine hype when the cast and crew spoke about the film in glowing terms. The demented method acting of new Joker Jared Leto promised something edgy and fresh from all involved.

It seemed like Suicide Squad would make the world sit up and take notice.

I thought exchanging the good guys for bad guys would surely make for an interesting inversion of the usual comic book film genre. However, the final product represents a missed opportunity.

Suicide Squad has a wafer thin plot, un-engaging action sequences and a poor villain. It has the odor of trying way too hard with forced eccentricity and edginess that just doesn’t hit the mark. Songs are regularly played throughout the duration of the movie, and with choppy editing, this directorial choice makes the product feel more like a series of individual music videos than a live action film.

It doesn't let the film develop any sense of satisfying or coherent flow, let alone make the film breathe.

The plot is simple to the point of being offensive. Ultimately, it consists of the squad coming together, walking through abandoned streets, shooting a few enemies, and then having a final fight which is hard to follow given it is largely obscured in darkness. The villain, Enchantress, is one of the worst foes you will find in any comic book movie. Her scheme literally boils down to this: Humanity hates me, so I’ll build a machine that kills everyone. That’s it.

Video games feature more background and motivation than what is dished up here.

It is this generic and simple attitude that permeates the whole production. I could possibly understand all this is a moot point if the squad themselves are entertaining to watch. But no, the film fumbles this aspect as well.

It’s a movie that doesn’t truly explore anything to the extent it could and should. It’s all superficial with nothing of note under the surface.

Deadshot is a father, and Diablo killed his wife and kids. But that’s about it. These characters receive a large amount of screen time as well, with other squad members largely going unnoticed and underdeveloped.

Killer Croc looks cool, but rarely does anything worthy of mention.

Harley Quinn is entertaining to watch at times, but her relationship with the Joker just didn’t work for me.

It could have been so much more, but instead it is one note. The Joker is reduced to being a lovesick puppy who is seeking to reunite with his love throughout the duration of the film.

The Joker as a manipulator and an abuser? That is nowhere to be found here, which is really disappointing and gutless on behalf of either the filmmakers or the studio. Harley is seen by the Joker as his property, which is fine.

But here it seems like Leto's Joker genuinely cares and longs for Harley. If scenes involving domestic violence have been removed for fear of offending the outrage industry, that is a massive disappointment and represents self censoring.

Let the characters be the characters without pandering to the critics, and fearing what they will say in response. I would not be surprised if the re-shoots restructured the film, removed the 'problem' scenes and left us with this watered down and spineless film.

Make the film you want to make. Having Jared Leto invest his heart and soul into this production only for the majority of his scenes to be ripped out is both insulting and disheartening. Deeper themes and moods would have done wonders for the film, and Joker and Harley, but the ball is dropped.

The critics still blasted the film, but not for the reasons they expected.

In that case, hold your nerve and damn the consequences in presenting your vision. We don’t really get a sense of risk or danger with the squad members, or even with the threats they face. It all lacks a sense of dare, and is instead replaced with forced quirks.

The Joker doesn’t have much screen time, but we can only judge what we see. Leto simply does not compete with Nicholson or Ledger at this stage, which is also disappointing for me to type.

This is not the review I wanted to write.

To type this as a DC fan hurts, but I’m all about expressing how I truly think and feel. I genuinely believe this film damages the momentum of the new continuity given it doesn’t exploit the potential of the concept and, quite frankly, offers nothing for the viewer to really get excited about. Which is baffling because that was clearly their intent.

It’s inexplicable to say Suicide Squad is actually quite a boring movie to watch.

Director Zach Snyder received a critical bashing from reviewers for this year’s Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. Though in comparison, Snyder gave his creation visual flair, explored a range of interesting themes and actually had decent plot points that intertwined throughout and had dramatic payoff.

Snyder at least had the guts to kill Superman and comment on society at large, whereas Suicide Squad squibs any risk taking. In many ways, Suicide Squad is the antithesis of Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice.

If Suicide Squad represents the new business model going forward, I am concerned. This time, I agree with the critics in critiquing Suicide Squad.


If the "all style and no substance" label is to be issued at a film, it’s this one.

Rating: 6/10

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