Trailers are fun, right? They’re a big part of the whole cinema going experience, especially recent comic book movie trailers. You get a few bursts of action, out of context but cool sounding one liners, all set to some upbeat pop ditty that gets you excited for whatever film it is they’re selling. Well, imagine that for two hours and you have something close to David Ayer’s Suicide Squad; a tonally uneven, brain dead film with the same narrative coherence and emotional investment as a trailer. So, none, then.
After the events of Batman V Superman, Amanda Waller (Viola Davis) is looking to put together a team to fight the next potential super-threat, and recruits a whole bunch of supervillians so that if something goes wrong they can ‘throw them under the bus’ and claim zero deniability. Among the squad are Will Smith’s master assassin Deadshot and Margot Robbie’s unhinged Harley Quinn. There are others, but honestly they’re barely worth a mention and I’m not going to spend more time on them than the movie does. Waller sends the squad into a warzone after one of their own goes rogue (it’s more complicated than that but I’d tie myself in knots trying to explain what actually happens) and that’s when the fun begins.
Or where you’d think it would anyway.
Because much like Synder’s superhero mope-fest earlier in the year Suicide Squad is like trudging through more grimdark sludge with nary a glimmer of fun (and let’s not forget this is supposed to be the ‘fun’ one) no matter how many shoehorned in pop songs you awkwardly cram in to give a semblance of it. The plot meanders to the point of inertia as the squad walk a few city blocks, engage in the bare minimum of conversations from The Big Book Of Anti-hero Clichés with each other, shoot some faceless CGI goons, then do that all over again only in a high rise, then AGAIN on route to the big CGI dust cloud finale.
Thank goodness then for the presence of some real movie stars who make things seem at least a bit better by just being good at what they do, although even they can’t make some of the lines work. Let’s just say a lot of the ‘jokes’ fall flatter than the helicopters do in this movie. Will Smith gets to be the Will Smithiest he’s been for a while which is nice to see and Margot Robbie gives it her all creating a Harley Quinn that’s fun even while the script gets the fundamentals of the character completely wrong. We’re repeatedly told that these guys are the bad guys yet at every turn the movie attempts to humanise them and is constantly flip flopping between whether to bite the bullet and make them evil, or play it safe to try and get the big box office bucks. It does neither and you’re left with a movie that’s unsure what it wants to be.
Oh, and then there’s the Jared Leto’s Joker. Sporadically popping in and out of the movie as some sort of gangsta pimp/mob boss/sex pest, it’s a version of the Joker you never knew you didn’t want.
Rumours abound that after the lukewarm reception Batman V Superman received WB ordered reshoots to make the film more fun and boy, does it show: the wacky animated credits, incredibly jarring music choices and title cards for each character scream MAKE IT MORE LIKE THE TRAILERS. This movie wants to be Guardians of the Galaxy (or even Deadpool) so bad, and it fails miserably.
Positives? The first 20 minutes of the film is actually pretty enjoyable, as we’re introduced to all the big hitters in quick succession and it’s the one part where the otherwise terrible editing works in the film’s favour. The ties to the wider universe also work well and it uses one character better in minutes than Batman V Superman did in its entirety.
Watch the trailer. It’s more fun. And more coherent.
Review by Jonathan Cardwell.
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