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Suicide Squad – Movie Review

This review contains spoilers. Read with caution if you have yet to see the movie.

Super Friends (screenshot)I’m going to preface this by saying I don’t normally do movie reviews. Also I haven’t been into DC Comics since the Justice League was called the Super Friends. And then? I just watched the TV show because I couldn’t afford comics at the time.

I’ve always been a giant Wonder Woman fangirl and loved the new Batman movies (No the other ones. The ones with Christian Bale.), but I didn’t see the third one in the trilogy yet. So now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, let’s talk about DC Comic’s Suicide Squad.

I’ve wanted to see Suicide Squad since the first preview came out at Comic Con last year. Harley looked amazing, and there were two other women on the team, plus the lady in charge of getting the team together. When was the last time that happened in a movie (before Ghostbusters)? Then this preview came out in January and I fell completely in love.

Suicide Squad (poster)I fell in love with Harley, I fell in love with the rest of the characters, which at this point in time (see above) I didn’t even know the names of yet. I mean, I already knew some about Harley from my cousin who has shipped her and Poison Ivy since she was a kid. I knew the Joker, because with all the Batman reboots who doesn’t? But I needed to know more, so I spent a good amount of time finding out bits and pieces of the other characters’ histories, while trying desperately to stay away from spoilers.

When the April trailer came out I bought the soundtrack and waited impatiently for August to arrive.

And arrive it did, but the news was not good. 85% of the people I knew who saw it (plus the official movie critics) hated it or were at the very least severely disappoint. But I didn’t care I needed to see it. So for the first time, in a very long time, I made it to the movies on opening weekend. Before it got spoiled. Before anyone could talk me out of it. I had to see for myself how someone could screw up a movie with so much potential as badly as everyone was saying they did.

Starting here there be spoilers, which shall last till the Overall section at the end of the review.

With “You Don’t Own Me” and “Heathens” stuck in my head on repeat I entered the theater. Afterwards, it took a whole 24 hours before I’d digested my feelings. What were those feelings?

Harley Quinn (screenshot 1)

Well, I didn’t hate it. But it could have been WAY better. If reading through 2,000+ words of me rambling about a movie isn’t what you signed up for, here’s the tl;dr:

The editing was terrible, there were some definite problems, but the characters were amazing! If you are a DC fan, or a Suicide Squad fan in general, I would recommend it, but not in 3D. And take that recommendation with a grain of salt.

Want a more in-depth review? Then let’s get started shall we?

The Cast

Suicide Squad - CastThe casting was awesome. I loved all the characters in the movie as much as I did in the previews. Will Smith (Deadshot) and Margot Robbie (Harley Quinn) killed it. And even the characters who weren’t written as well (or given as much screen time) did their best to make the most of the rolls they had. In fact Diablo (Jay Hernandez) and Killer Croc (Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje) ended up being two of my favs almost from the beginning of the movie.

The only person I would recast (or at the very least redirect) was the main bad guy, Enchantress. Cara Delevingne did a pretty good job with her (more so with her alter ego June Moone) until the climax where she seemed to be over acting more than was necessary. At points during the monologues in the final fight she was swaying so much she looked goofy instead of scary. But she also didn’t get enough screen time to develop her character, especially as Dr. Moone. So that certainly didn’t help. Which brings me to my next point.

Editing & Plot

Who edited this movie? No, better question: Why didn’t the person who edited the trailers edit this movie?

Honest to goodness, for those who are still reading and haven’t seen the movie yet, the beginning of the movie goes from a little bit of plot to vignettes of each Suicide Squad member (minus a couple for some reason, see below) that shows what they can do and how they got caught as narrated by the lady in charge, Amanda Waller (Viola Davis). Then it goes back to the plot where they are putting the squad together, which for some reason directly leads to them needing to use the squad? Because Enchantress waited till they had people to fight her to try to break out for some reason?

Deadshot (profile)

For those not following, I kind of didn’t follow it either. I mean I did, but whoever thought that was the right order to put these scenes in was very incorrect.

Once the team was on the ground and going after the bad guy, it flowed a little better. But…oh wait, in there is also the Joker who is coming to rescue Harley (for most of the movie), and she keeps having flashbacks about him in between the battle scenes. And then the wrap up is them all back in jail with not a lot said about what might happen next or what the consequences were?

Now I don’t want to turn you off completely, so let me also say that each scene (with a couple exceptions) was well done. Put in a different order, they would have been fantastic! Again the characters’ chemistry helped a lot and I really think that reedited it could have been 5x better than it was.

The Really Good News

If you like DC at all, I would see this movie, just to see the characters in action. As long as you go in knowing the movie is put together like a poorly fitting jigsaw puzzle, the scenes themselves and the squad in action are worth your time.

And aside from the team itself, I think Amanda Waller was a great bad guy/good guy. They didn’t pull any punches with her and you could tell from scene one she was not messing around.

Suicide Squad - Ladies

The cast was diverse, which is unfortunately very unusual. Including Waller, there were four women with important roles – two bad guys and two good guys. There were multiple people of color that also had important roles – four black actors, one Hispanic, and one Japanese. This shouldn’t be unusual. This should be standard. And I’m glad DC did such a good job with their casting.

Suicide Squad - Gentlemen

Which brings me to the bit that is going to get me in trouble, if you’re not already mad at me for all of the above:

I liked Jared Leto’s Joker.

 Joker (screenshot 1)

Now wait! Hear me out! He was nowhere near the Joker Heath Ledger was. He was a lot more gangster and a lot less insane than any other version I’ve seen. But! I think he played an amazing abusive boyfriend. And I would definitely watch a movie with just him and Harley, as long as it’s the arc where she kicks his ass at the end and goes on to date Poison Ivy instead. Also his squad’s costumes in this movie were amazing!

But…

The Really Not Good News

Joker and Harley…Any bits with The Joker and Harley were basically watching the worst abusive relationship ever, or watching Harley wish she was still in the most abusive relationship ever. I know this is canon, but so is her beating the snot out of him in prison and leaving him to bleed on the floor while she moves on with her life.

Yes they could still do that in another movie, but a hint of her realizing how bad it was, even if she still went back to him in the end, would have been better than her pining for him for the whole movie. I know it made sense in the plot, but they could have written it differently and still had it make sense. Heck, it was already poorly edited, changing her arc couldn’t have hurt the movie that much anyway.

Speaking of editing (are you noticing a theme here?), you know those amazing scenes in the trailers that probably made you want to see the movie in the first place? Yeah, a lot of them weren’t in the movie at all. I understand it was 2 hours and 10 minutes long already, but guys? Your editing is terrible. Do better next time. Okay?

Right, enough about the editing, let’s jump back to how I said they had a nice diverse cast shall we?

They did have a nice diverse cast. I was actually impressed when I saw the trailers. I was impressed when they introduced all of them through those weird vignettes at the beginning of the movie. Except? They didn’t all get introduced at the beginning. They left out two of the “main” characters. I say main in quotes because I, and I imagine may other people, assumed they would be main characters, but yeah, that’s not really what happened.

Let’s start with Katana (Karen Fukuhara).

Katana (screenshot 1)

Katana didn’t get a mini history at the beginning, but she gets a flashback in a weird spot and Rick Flag (Joel Kinnaman) explains her story to Captain Boomerang (Jai Courtney) while she is crying over her dead husband’s soul. I guess it makes sense that she didn’t get the portfolio treatment at the beginning, since she is technically a good guy and not officially on the squad? But still, I would think someone wielding a sword that steals the souls of those it kills would warrant a mention in the debriefing. And she is the least developed of the main characters, even though she gets a decent amount of screen time.

But that pales in comparison with how they handled Slipknot (Adam Beach). Not only did they not do any backstory on him (the sum total I remember is an off-hand comment that he can climb anything), they killed him off almost as soon as they touched down in the war zone. He got maybe two lines? Maybe? His entire purpose in the movie was proving that the implants Wallace had injected into each of them were really explosive.

Slipknot (screenshot 1)

Yes, I know that’s sort of what happens in the comic book. But there were a lot of people who were super excited to see a comic character played by a Native Peoples actor, especially since he is not portrayed as such in the comics. Way to go DC! Cast a person of color in a role that could have gone to a white person! Thumbs up!

Then they had to ruin it and kill him off before the fighting even started. No backstory, two lines, dies because Captain Boomerang tricks him into running off.

If you had to stay true to the comics, you could have done that scene after the first fight. Then at least he could have had some time to show off his badassness. It was a missed opportunity to make a mostly unknown/lame villain into something cool. I mean considering he got almost no screen time, Adam Beach did an amazing job with him. And his costume and rope weapons were really cool! But it was not to be. Shame on you DC. You can do better than that.

End Spoilers

Overall

Suicide Squad (poster 2)After two days of thinking, I’m still not entirely sure how I feel about this movie. There are parts I loved! There were parts I didn’t hate so much as see as giant missed opportunities for awesome. The editing was bad. I’m gonna say that again. THE EDITING WAS BAD. Actually, this movie is a great picture of why prologues don’t work very often in writing, and why showing rather than telling is soooo important.

But despite its flaws I am not mad that I spent money to see it. Nor am I upset that I spent two hours of my life with these people. Suicide Squad’s characters are now deeply lodged in my psyche and I don’t think they’ll be leaving anytime soon.

I will watch this movie again, though probably not in theaters. And I would definitely see another movie with these characters.

But please, DC? Get a better editor next time. Okay?

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7 Comments

  1. Avatar jonnyboy says:

    Is it really the editor’s decision on scene order and chronology? It seems more like a writing issue, or a director’s problem. It would be bizarre if the editor had the final say on matters of storytelling.

  2. There is bound to be a director’s cut. Hopefully it will address some of the editing issues.

  3. Avatar Noneofyourbusiness says:

    “Then it goes back to the plot where they are putting the squad together, which for some reason directly leads to them needing to use the squad?”

    Enchantress was part of the initial attempt to create a Taskforce X. Then she went rogue and they needed the squad to stop her.

    • Jennie Ivins Jennie Ivins says:

      Yeah, but in the movie it just seemed silly that she waited to go rogue until there were people in place to stop her. She didn’t even get to meet the rest of the team, or use her powers to do anything except steal one binder of information that was in no way related to the plot. With the limited time they were given for the movie it would have made more sense if the team had been put together to take her down as their primary mission and then kept on for future use. I realize that would deviate from the comics, but comics have a lot more time to delve into things than movies do.

      Thanks for commenting though, I’m still catching up on the lore of the comics and it’s nice to know they at least had some sort of reason to put the story together the way they did. Just maybe next time they need to reconsider trying to keep everything cannon.

  4. Avatar David Doherty-Jebb says:

    This is more or less what I felt about the movie. The big problem was, yes, definitely the editing! They had the pieces to make a cool movie, but in the end made a just okay one.
    I thought, though, Delavigne and Leto were cast purely on their poster pose power. Leto was never going to live up to the hype of the method acting rumours, or to the tour de force of Heath Ledger, so maybe that’s not his fault.
    But Delavigne was a bad choice for the movies main antagonist. She looks good in the poster, and that’s it.
    Overall, I had a good time, but it isn’t the pop-culture explosion it should have been.

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