Saturday, April 22, 2017

Suicide Squad

Based on the DC comic series by Robert Kanigher and Ross Andru, Suicide Squad is the story of a group of supervillains who are tasked to stop a major threat to the world in exchange for reduced prison sentences. Written for the screen and directed by David Ayer, the film is an unconventional superhero film of sorts where it is focused on the bad guys who are given the chance to do good while dealing with their own faults as individuals. Starring Will Smith, Margot Robbie, Jared Leto, Jai Courtney, Joel Kinnaman, Cara Delevingne, Jay Hernandez, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, Adam Beach, Karen Fukuhara, Scott Eastwood, Ike Barinholtz, Jim Parrack, and Viola Davis. Suicide Squad is an intriguing but extremely messy film from David Ayer.

Following some catastrophic events around the world, the film revolves around an intelligence officer who wants to create a task force filled with supervillains to stop any major threat available as they would team up with a military officer to kill an evil witch-goddess known as the Enchantress who has inhabited the body of an archeologist named Dr. June Moone (Cara Delevingne). It’s a film that has some of worst of the worst that include a hitman, a pyromaniac, a mutant, a bank robber, and a former psychiatrist who later became the girlfriend of the Joker (Jared Leto). They’re given the chance to do good and save the world in exchange for a reduced prison sentence as they reluctantly do the job with Colonel Rick Flag (Joel Kinnaman) leading the team. It’s a concept that has a nice idea but writer/director David Ayer unfortunately doesn’t go all the way with its execution.

While he does manage to establish who are the members of this team known as the Suicide Squad in Floyd Lawton/Deadshot (Will Smith), Dr. Harleen Quinzel/Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie), George “Digger” Harkness/Captain Boomerang (Jai Courtney), Chato Santana/El Diablo (Jay Hernandez), and Waylon Jones/Killer Croc (Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje). Some of these characters are either underwritten or under-utilized while the script falters very highly as Ayer tried to cram so much into the story but never finds a way to create a balance for everyone involved. Even the stakes in trying to stop the Enchantress and her brother Incubus (Alain Chanonine) doesn’t have much weight or motivation for the Suicide Squad to stop other than death if they don’t do the job. The character of Amanda Waller (Viola Davis) is a mysterious individual who holds the fate of the entire squad as she is an antihero that is unique as she is one of the most interesting characters in the film.

The story about Harley Quinn’s relationship with the Joker is definitely not given more to be engaged into as it’s really one of several subplots in the film as the character of the Joker is someone who isn’t really used for the main plot other than to try and retrieve Harley back into his life. It’s a storyline that could’ve been fleshed out more but it’s often seen in flashbacks where there is little of the Joker in the main storyline. Another issue in the film revolves another member of the Suicide Squad in Christopher Weiss/Slipknot (Adam Beach) where he’s only in the film for a few minutes and doesn’t really do anything.

Ayer’s direction is where the film really suffers as it not only tries to cram so much into a two-hour film but also do it with some constraints to appeal to a wide audience. While Ayer would create some exciting sequences that does help tell the story and is filled with a lot of action. It tries too hard to be all things where it does have moments that are funny and moments that are exciting but it never finds that balance to bend all type of genres where it is very messy. Though there’s some good compositions that Ayer makes in the medium and wide shots to establish the locations as well as some close-ups. It is all very stylized and sometimes it would be style over substance where Ayer is doing whatever he can to try and make it enthralling. Yet, the emphasis largely on visual effects and wanting to create something big tends to overwhelm the story as it kind of loses of focus on what it wanted to be. Another aspect of the film that is problematic is that underneath all of these storylines, sprawling action scenes, and comedy is that there is a good film somewhere.

It’s obvious that given that this is a studio film that Ayer must have consulted with the executives at Warner Brothers in giving them what they want. Yet, this interference from people who aren’t involved in the process of filmmaking are the last group of people who understand what an audience wants. Sometimes, it’s best to not give them what they want as this film unfortunately tries to do so many things but giving the character of the Joker a small amount of time in the film as well as not providing a backstory for Killer Croc and a volunteer in Tatsu Yamashiro/Katana (Karen Fukuhara) definitely would baffle the audience. The climax is also kind of lacking in something bigger as it ends up being very conventional as it never really has the chance to become something of its own in favor of trying to be like every other superhero film. Overall, Ayer creates a decent but extremely inconsistent and underwhelming film about a group of bad guys teaming up to save the world.

Cinematographer Roman Vasyanov does some nice work with the cinematography with its array of colors and lighting schemes for much of the scenes set at night as well as the usage of desaturated colors for some of the daytime scenes. Editor John Gilroy does some fine work with the editing as it is very stylized where it relies a lot on fast-cuts but does provide enough footage to establish what is going on despite the constraints of what the film would suffer in its final cut. Production designer Oliver Scholl, with set decorators Beauchamp Fontaine and Shane Vieau as well as supervising art directors Brandt Gordon and Brad Ricker, does excellent work with the set design from the prison cells of the members of the Suicide Squad as well as the look of some of the cities and buildings they go into. Costume designer Kate Hawley does superb work with the costumes from the clothes some of the members of the Suicide Squad wear as well as the stylish clothing of Harley Quinn.

Hair/makeup designer Alessandro Bertolazzi and creature/effects designer Steve Newburn do brilliant work with the look of some of the characters such as El Diablo, Harley, Killer Croc, and the Joker where they’re given distinctive looks. Visual effects supervisor Jerome Chen does some good work with the visual effects in creating some mystical effects relating to the Enchantress though it does get overwhelming at times as the design of her army is kind of weak. Sound editor Richard King does fantastic work with the sound in creating some sound effects and in some of the broad moments in the action sequences. The film’s score by Steven Price is wonderful as it’s mainly a mixture of orchestral music with some electronics as much of the music that is assembled by music supervisors Gabe Hilfer and Season Kent that features an array of music from the likes of AC/DC, Rick James, Eminem, Creedence Clearwater Revival, Lesley Gore, the White Stripes, Black Sabbath, Kanye West, K7, Norman Greenbaum, the Rolling Stones, and the Animals.

The casting by Lindsay Graham and Mary Vernieu is brilliant despite some of the issues involved due to the interference of studio executives as it feature some notable small appearances from Jim Parrack and Common as a couple of the Joker’s henchmen, Alain Chanonine as the Enchantress’ brother Incubus, Ike Barinholtz as a prison guard, Scott Eastwood as Col. Flag’s right-hand man GQ Edwards, David Harbour as a government official, Shailyn Pierre-Dixon as Deadshot’s daughter, Grace Santana as El Diablo’s wife in flashbacks, and Adam Beach in a very wasted performance as Slipknot. Karen Fukuhara is fantastic as Tatsu Yamashiro/Katana as a volunteer who is deadly with a samurai sword as she helps the Suicide Squad while Cara Delevingne is alright as Dr. June Moone in displaying her fears and vulnerability but isn’t very good as the Enchantress who is just this lame villain.

Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje is terrific as Waylon Jones/Killer Croc as a reptilian-like mutant who can do things underwater and kick ass though he is very underutilized and underwritten. Joel Kinnaman is superb as Col. Rick Flag as a Special Forces officer who leads the Suicide Squad into battle while trying to hide the fact that he is personally invested in this mission to stop the Enchantress. Jay Hernandez is excellent as Chato Santana/El Diablo as a pyromaniac who is reluctant to help out as he is afraid of unleashing his powers knowing how bad it can become. Jai Courtney is fun as George “Digger” Harkness/Captain Boomerang as a bank robber with a deadly boomerang who is quite tough but also has some weird fetishes.

Jared Leto’s performance as the Joker is a mixed bag where not only is it a very small role where he’s not given much to do for the story while his performance is funny at times but also over-the-top for the wrong reasons. Viola Davis is brilliant as Amanda Waller as an intelligence officer creating a plan to help the world in the face of a threat as this is a no-nonsense character that is quite ruthless but also very determined to do whatever it takes to save the world. Will Smith is amazing as Floyd Lawton/Deadshot as a hitman/assassin that is good at what he does yet is also complex as he’s got morals despite the fact that he’s a bad guy as Smith brings some charm but also some weight as a man who knows what is at stake. Finally, there’s Margot Robbie in a phenomenal performance as Dr. Harleen Quinzel/Harley Quinn as a former psychiatrist who goes insane and falls for the Joker as she is this odd yet insane woman often speaks her mind and does crazy things as it’s the real standout performance in the film.

Suicide Squad is a decent but uneven film from David Ayer. Despite some action sequences, intriguing premise, and a great ensemble cast, it’s a film that suffers from trying to do so much only to bring in so little. In the end, Suicide Squad is just a very disappointing and underwhelming film from David Ayer.

David Ayer Films: (Harsh Times) – (Street Kings) – (End of Watch) – (Sabotage (2014 film)) – (Fury (2014 film)) – (Bright (2017 film)) - (The Tax Collector)

DC Extended Universe: Man of Steel - Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice - Wonder WomanJustice League - Aquaman - Shazam! - Birds of Prey - Wonder Woman 1984 - Zack Snyder's Justice League - The Suicide Squad (2021 film) - (Black Adam) – (Shazam! Fury of the Gods) – (Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom) – (The Flash) – (Blue Beetle) – (Batgirl)

© thevoid99 2017


ruth said...

Hi Steven! I actually expected this to be waaay worse than it was. I was entertained somewhat, but I still wouldn't call this a good movie by any stretch.

Dell said...

I totally agree. It's decent and entertaining, but ultimately messy. Smith and Robbie save it as much as it can be saved since, as you you said, both are outstanding. The movie would've been helped by having a better villain as The Enchantress was a joke. Still, I liked the movie as a whole.

Brittani Burnham said...

This film is such a clusterfuck. It's not the worst film of the year but it's the most disappointing to me because it could've been better.

I hated Leto's Joker. I was torn between "This needs more Joker" and "Ugh, then I have to see Leto again." I really adore him as an actor but I never want to see him play the Joker this way again.

s. said...

It's just such a mess but I agree that Margot is phenomenal. It's such a shame she wasn't given a chance to play Harley in a better movie. Ayer should never be allowed to direct again.

thevoid99 said...

@ruth-I was entertained by this as well though I felt it was a let down in a lot of ways as I all of that tampering from the studio really hurt the film.

@Wendell-I think this is the best performance Will Smith has given in quite a long time as he had some gravitas as well as be humbled by what he is doing. I actually liked him a lot and wanted more of him. It's watchable and I don't mind seeing it again but it really fell short of its expectations.

@Brittani-It is a disappointment as I think there is a good film somewhere but Warner Brothers fucked it up for everyone. I wanted to like Jared Leto's Joker but I felt he went too far in not making him engaging enough as he relied too much on being creepy. Heath Ledger's Joker at least was funny in a dark way.

@Sati-I could watch Margot as Harley read a phone book and it would be fun. She was awesome as I had a smile on my face whenever she's on screen. Yes, David Ayer is a piece of shit and to call out Marvel like that makes him look like an idiot. And this is someone people think is a great filmmaker.... please.

Unknown said...

"an intriguing but extremely messy film" is a very apt description of this movie. The way I look at SUICIDE SQUAD is this: there's a good movie trying to get out. Sadly, it was a victim of studio interference, taking the final cut away from Ayer and butchering it. But it certainly has its moments, largely Harley Quinn and Captain Boomerang - both scene stealers extraordinaire. They kept me interested for the duration.

thevoid99 said...

@J.D. Lafrance-I knew I wasn't the only one that saw a good movie in there and yeah, I think the studio fucked it up for everyone.