Suicide Squad (4.5 / 10)
By Rheanna Haaland
After two years of apprehension about aesthetics, casting, and trailers set to well-fitting music, it is a stretch to call Suicide Squad the worst movie ever. Particularly in light of the recent box office failure “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice,” Suicide Squad was an opportunity for moviegoers to regain faith in DC comic book movies. But for fans who went in praying for a movie on the level of Nolan’s 2008 “Dark Knight,” this film is a heartbreak. Suicide Squad isn’t horrible, but it isn’t good.
What the story lacks more than anything is a sense of dramatic tension. The element of suspense in Suicide Squad is borderline non-existent. If the movie had provided any conflict that took longer than a few minutes to resolve, the audience may have been able to overlook the lack of development in characters and overall story. The antagonist’s motivations and schemes are overly simplistic and underdeveloped. When the real world has so much for a big screen villain to be upset about, the rationale behind this antagonist’s destructive actions are decidedly weak.
DC has never been known for quippy one-liners or good jokes, particularly in contrast to Marvel movies, but the interpersonal dynamics between members of the Suicide Squad’s leaves so many opportunities for more clever dialogue than the script offered. Characters calling each other “pussy,” “psycho” or “bitch” is only funny so many times. The profanity didn’t seem excessive so much as it seemed lazy. Within the comic books, the members of the Suicide Squad have always been eccentric or occasionally catty, but for the most part they’re smart, well-spoken people. Most of the movie’s best dialogue is charmingly sarcastic, but even that element is too ubiquitous to stand out.
Even with the brilliant score that highlighted high energy combat scenes, the few thematic elements that were meant to draw the cast together are heavy handed and brought in too late. The ensemble seems to hate one another slightly less at the end of the movie than they did at the beginning, but the lack of growth in the group’s dynamic leaves much to be desired. This is particularly unsatisfying given the amount of praise director David Ayer received last month at San Diego Comic Con for his ability to bring the cast together. Even though the actors are unwaveringly well suited to their roles — particularly the badasses Will Smith and Viola Davis — every character in the movie comes off as one-dimensional. The cast members are visibly dedicated to their parts, but the script leaves them so little to work with it almost doesn’t matter. This is particularly tragic in the case of Margot Robbie’s character Harley Quinn, a character who’s cult-like obsessive fans have anticipated her debut on the big screen for over a decade.
Since the first promotional photos were released in 2014, Jared Leto’s Joker and his gaudy aesthetic have been under severe scrutiny. Many die-hard DC fans have been quick to point out that Heath Ledger casting as the Joker in Nolan’s “Dark Knight” in 2007 warranted a similar reaction, but sadly the comparisons stop there. In the enormous clown shoes of Ledger’s legendary performance, Leto is frankly forgettable.
Perhaps the most disappointing however, is the relationship between Harley Quinn and the Joker.
Quinn’s character in the cartoons and comic books has always been the tragic comic psychiatrist who falls madly in love with a sociopathic patient. In relation to Quinn, Joker has been unwaveringly depicted as manipulative and physically abusive. Until now. Ayer’s version of their relationship portrays the two clowns as equal, if blissfully insane, partners. Joker at one point, even tells Harley “I’d do anything for you,” which in any other medium would have been accompanied by abuse or used as a gaslight tactic. Leto’s version of Joker seems to genuinely care for Harley Quinn, which — on the part of the writers — undercuts and blatantly disregards the origins, depth, and potential for growth in Harley Quinn’s character. While no one condones domestic violence, this could have been an opportunity to spotlight and fundamentally explore the toxic relationship between them. Although every character in the movie lacks some dimension, the absence of an arc in Harley Quinn as well as her romance with Joker is Suicide Squad’s greatest shortcoming.
At the end of the film, DCs intention for one or more sequels is far from subtle. Although the poor quality of DC’s output is not necessarily deliberate, the amount of heartbreak their fans are willing to suffer has been called into question. When the scripts are tensionless and lackluster, even when there is no shortage of funds, it remains to be seen how far the Suicide Squad movie franchise will stretch the fans’ masochistic dedication. Suicide Squad will be released in theatres everywhere on August 5th.