It’s time for me to set the record straight. After my attack on the current sweeping nature of the critical industry it’s time for me to give my verdict on Suicide Squad. However, before I tell you my thoughts I have to say this is a hard film to review as it takes a very different approach to the action/ super hero genre therefore the only real way to tell if you like it is by going to see it. With that in mind, Suicide Squad is essentially four great films blended together into one okay film. The film attempts to cover the classic ‘Mad Love’ story arc from Batman, an origin film for Deadshot, half a Justice League Dark film with Katana and Enchantress as well as a Suicide Squad origin story. I think the best way to approach a review of the film is to look at each of these aspects and judge how the film approaches each.
Mad Love Gone Wrong
If you ask any Batman fan there is only one Harley Quinn storyline and that is ‘Mad Love’ where in doctor Harleen Quinzel falls hopelessly in love with the Joker, eventually becoming Harley Quinn. The emotional crux of the storyline is about how Harley’s love is unreciprocated and the Joker only plays upon it to use her as an ally. Harley sees romance but the Joker doesn’t. This is a crucial detail missed in the film’s bullet point recreation of the story line as the Joker appears to show real affection for Harley and the tragedy instead comes from Harley’s wish that she and Joker could just have a normal life.
There is not enough time devoted to this story to cover it well and the way the narrative arc ties into the wider plot seems clumsy. Harley seems to receive a phone from one of the prison guards early in the film but it seems like the Joker’s interference is just a little too clumsy as his scenes just seem to pop up at odd moments and when he finally turns up it’s for a false resolution of the arc that just felt tired as we get a faux-Joker death. However, the few character moments with Harley after Joker’s death and the initial scenes of Harley and Joker tearing up Gotham are superb and do deserve praise.
When you hire Will Smith to work on a movie you are hiring him for star presence, don’t get me wrong the guy can act but I doubt Deadshot would have had anywhere near as big of a role if someone else was wearing the military grade spandex. The Deadshot arc focuses around Floyd Lawton’s relationship with his daughter and his will to prove to her that he is a good man after surrendering himself to Batman in front of her. As Deadshot has had a much reduced presence in the comic books, it’s hard to say whether this is in keeping with the source material but I think in this instance the choice to create more depth is a good one. Deadshot’s storyline is the most compelling and, after a few brilliant moments, it becomes tough not to support the assassin. I feel like if other characters had the same amount of screen time and development put into them this film would have knocked it out the park with the critics.
Justice League Dark
The two weakest areas of the film come in the form of the villain and the poorly written background cast. Enchantress is a big deal in the world of Justice League Dark where she has had a series of interesting stories however here she is reduced to a McGuffin that rewards the heroes with Cara Delevingne as a prize for defeating her. But the mistreatment of the Enchantress is nothing in comparison to that of Katana. In recent years Katana has found a fan base through fairly heavy usage across the b-list titles of the DC Universe, she is a complex character with an interesting sense of morality and a fascinating backstory. In this film she is only given a handful of lines and a brief explanation consisting of two lines of dialogue from Rick Flag, one of which only comes before the final battle. That’s just sloppy writing. It seems like the inclusion of the character was a bad decision and one made only to give the audience another female character and possibly some one that seemed disposable but wouldn’t die as a red herring. Both characters here feel like they could have been placed in a Justice League Dark feature with far strong results.
But Is It A Good Suicide Squad Film?
Once you strip away the time spent on the ‘Mad Love’ storyline and the lack of development of the villain and Katana, the film does make a good Suicide Squad feature. There is a wide cast with lots of deaths giving a feeling like this is an actual suicide mission, although the lack of work put into Slipknot was disgraceful. The character of Amanda Waller is menacing and manipulative, the big personalities of the squad play off each other well and some squad favourites get moments to shine such as El Diablo and Captain Boomerang. The soundtrack, while not as well implemented as Guardians or Deadpool, has a lot of variety and lead to lots of nice set pieces. I feel that it is the structure and editing that lets the film down as it feels jerky and can be hard to follow on a first viewing. Personally, I recommend watching this film as a good summer blockbuster but do not expect a revolution, Suicide Squad will hopefully go down in history as a good film that could open up audiences to more to come from the DC Universe.
…That was this week’s BearSleuth Reviews!!! Check back on Saturday for a new BearSleuth Spoiler Free Comic Book Bundle!!!