I’m going to nail my colours to the mast here. I’ve not done a good job of hiding it but it’s about time I let the world know; I really like films.
Okay, that may be fairly obvious with me writing a film blog, but let me explain.
I couldn’t care less where the original source material came from when a film is made from it. When watching a film that was adapted from a comic book, it doesn’t matter if it was from the Marvel, DC, Beano or Dandy universe, so long as a good film is made. Marvel have made some of the best films of this genre with their entries to the Captain America series and Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight trilogy is yet to be bettered in my humble opinion. So, there you go. No bias as both Marvel and DC have produced films that proudly adorn my Blu-ray shelf.
They have also made some right stinkers too. I have no love for Iron-man 2 or any of the Thor films (I still don’t know how the scripts got past the Marvel Mastermind, Kevin Feige), and ever since the last frame of The Dark Knight Rises DC have produced so many turkeys that they’ve put Bernard Matthews out of business!
There. See? Still no bias.
However, it’s a concern of mine that whilst Marvel are producing a consistently high standard of movie with the occasional must-have and the odd bit of dross, DC have made nothing but rubbish since Mr Nolan took a step away from the Director’s chair. Man of Steel and Batman vs Superman: Dawn of Justice have been met with a cold response from critics and low scores on review aggregate websites like Rotten Tomatoes and Metacritic. Their latest, Suicide Squad, has received the same treatment, with some DC fans starting a petition to close Rotten Tomatoes down as a result!
Sorry DC fans, whilst I think the critical mauling this film has received has been over-the-top, I’m still with Rotten Tomatoes on this one.
When a supernatural entity threatens to destroy the world, U.S Intelligence Officer Amanda Waller (Viola Davis) recruits some of the DC universe’s most dangerous criminals to neutralise the threat in return for reprieve, whilst threatening them with exploding their heads with an implanted bomb if they step out of line. If the mission fails the government have their scapegoats. A win-win situation it appears…
This film starts so well and in a unique way that has not been seen in a comic book movie before. It looked more akin to an Edgar Wright film and made some brave decisions with its choice of editing style. It appeared to be going down the same aesthetic route as Scott Pilgrim vs The World more than anything DC or Marvel had produced previously and I was getting excited about what I was about to watch. Strange then that this is abandoned so abruptly and so soon in the film’s running time, and it quickly becomes a choppy and seemingly incompetent mess. It was like the crew didn’t film enough material and ran out of time and budget for re-shoots and had to work with the little they had. It’s a very jarring watch in places.
As with every film nowadays, the trailers for Suicide Squad have given away most of the best bits so when the action takes place and the jokes land I was left unimpressed. I remember the first teaser trailer being quite sombre and dark in tone and the following two trailers making it look more fun, action-packed and exciting. These were ultimately misleading as the film is better represented by its first teaser, which was perfectly fine so I can’t fathom why DC felt it necessary to jazz up the tone to deceive. Was it because the tone of Batman vs Superman was so dark that they wanted to inject some light relief into the DC cinematic universe? If it was, they have failed and miserably too.
The story has fantastic potential but it is poorly executed with a weak villain who does very little indeed and poses no threat bar the destruction of a few cars, choppers, a satellite and a power cut! The “Squad” plod from one set-piece to the next and it feels like Director David Ayer’s only inspiration is a tick-box list of items he had to check off before completion. It’s not particularly dull, but it is compared to what it could have been with these unique, colourful characters. It’s such a wasted opportunity.
This leads me neatly to the cast (y’see, I don’t just throw this stuff together. Take note Mr Ayer!). Will Smith is arguably the lead of the piece and plays Deadshot very well indeed. The choice of Smith was criticised as he was seen as too “nice” to play a convincing villain, but I disagree. Whilst his nasty streak isn’t played out on screen he convinces as the wrong’un who has nothing but the best intentions for his daughter. Cara Delevingne brings the Enchantress to life with her spooky portrayal and believably reverts to abrupt timidity when dispossessed. Viola Davis shines as the cold-hearted government official Amanda Waller. You suspect she could take out the villains single-handedly and has no need for her band of scallywags! Joel Kinnaman and Jai Courtney do well with what they are given as Rick Flag and Captain Boomerang respectively, but they are not given much. Particularly the latter, and as a result you question what the Captain brings to the table when his skill set is not utilised or needed. Jay Hernandez is all set to bring a depth to El Diablo that some may argue is missing from the rest of cast but this is never fully explored. The rest, unfortunately, merge into the background, bar Killer Croc, who suffers from a bad case of “Tom-Hardy-itis” and fails to annunciate a single syllable clearly throughout.
You’ve probably noticed that I have left out the film’s big-hitters. Margot Robbie’s Harley Quinn is outstanding and she embodies the character masterfully. However, her first live-action feature should not be a part of an ensemble cast like this one. Harley Quinn is a multifaceted character and to cast Robbie is a stroke of genius, but she deserves a film where her character is explored in a lot more detail than what she is given with Suicide Squad. She is missed whenever she is not on screen and, when she is, there is definitely a few layers of complexity missing that are touched upon in flashbacks but then just abandoned. As for Jared Leto’s Joker, he is barely in it and when he is he shows flashes of brilliance but his performance is mostly through an irritating purr between and during his sentences. Leto is a fantastic actor so I think the issue is with the script. For me, the Joker has always been a highly intelligent psychopath but this version is just an eccentric wannabe gangster trying to act psychotic to scare his victims. It really is harsh to criticise this character on his fleeting appearance in this film so final judgement will be reserved until, again, he gets a film where he is one of few main players. Despite having a little more than a “blink-and-you’ll-miss-him” part in Suicide Squad, it’s amazing how much potential damage DC have inflicted on Batman’s character in his treatment of a woman in one particular scene. To give any more away may be classed as a spoiler, so all I’ll say is that he came across as desperate and creepy and it didn’t sit comfortably with me at all. In fact, despite the villain plus one of the main stars of the show being female, I think the film’s treatment of woman is appalling. I could write a full blog about this so I’ll leave it at that, but I would be interested to hear what other people thought about this.
All in all though, I’ve seen worse this year and I’d rather watch this than Batman vs Superman again. Although that’s like asking if I’d prefer to get stabbed or shot as I’d rather not experience either a second time!
I shall patiently wait for the Beano cinematic universe to begin. Watch out, Marvel, you don’t wanna mess with the juggernaut that is Roger the Dodger!