Suicide Squad: The Little Movie That Couldn’t

Mateo Sandoval

David Ayer’s Suicide Squad is an outright precarious film. It need not be crowned as a pariah, as it basks in the glory of a series of films that persist in individually adding a sense of tire or indifference. Man of Steel was welcomed with a chorus of voices, chiming into the idea that DC cannot hope to dismantle the reign of Marvel. The same could also be said for Batman V. Superman, which made a pretty penny all throughout the duration of its screenings, but fell flat on its face in far too many aspects to be deemed an intriguing setup to anything. So where does Suicide Squad lie on this scale? At the time of writing, the film has nearly made back its published budget, so success is still attainable. Unfortunately, this assemblage of a unique concepts and a few delightful actors could not be salvaged from the less-than-stellar film design.

Suicide Squad, above all, knows its audience. The film understands who exactly is going to watch it, and this much is evident from the first sight: the PG-13 rating. Not to disparage the younger crowd, but when a movie with as grim of a universe as DC goes all in for as many people to watch it as possible, it may or may not be a crapshoot. I’d hate to make this article to become a film comparison, but other films can express a thought adequately as well. Take Deadpool, for example: a movie nearly without expectations. It was produced on an abysmally small budget (50 Million) for a superhero film, and it earned an R-Rating for itself. It even had to stand up to the latest disappointing Wolverine film. Not only did it succeed in making back its budget, it did so over ten times over. The film survived on its clear care of the subject, faithfully bringing back a beloved character with attention to detail and fitting humor. Suicide Squad is what DC hopes will be their Deadpool. It simply isn’t so.

First of note, the design of the film. Many aspects of production encompass this topic, so much is to be demonstrated. Sound design deserves a good C+. There are a few memorable numbers with the soundtrack, notably “Bohemian Rhapsody” and “You Don’t Own Me.” The rest are a bit forgettable, and don’t add much to anything other than pacing. Having edgy songs in a soundtrack does not constitute a decent film, but instead indicates that an attempt to capture audiences without the movie itself was made. On the subject of color scheme, there is a stupefying lack of light in nearly every shot. Every scene is dark, even in oddly misplaced spaces. One scene outside in broad daylight looks like a dust storm is raging somewhere nearby, or perhaps someone placed a black overlay. Scenes in the city at night are awful. The monsters are dark, the background is dark, the heroes are dark; nothing looks as it should. I do understand that the DC films have a knack for this. The Dark Knight series utilized the same color palette, but at least the city could look remotely as a city should. As for the monsters, a goddess creates them by kissing captured people and wants to get her heart back to destroy the planet. Enjoy following that story, as I know many in the audience didn’t. To summarize the plot in a couple of lines: A major hero’s death stirs passion to assemble a team of dangerous individuals who can neutralize targets as potential scapegoats, and face their first challenger who happens to be an ancient witch-goddess.

The characters in this film are hit and miss. Two people seem to stand out in this film, and rightly so, as they occupy a good portion of the advertisements: Margot Robbie and Will Smith. Simply put, Harley Quinn is reinvigorated through her actress’ talent. Harley is mean-spirited, comically insane for her own entertainment, and indulgent in cracking skulls alongside the love of her life. She is equal parts pernicious as she is playful, and mostly a delight to have on screen. Will Smith, by contrast, must be the sobering character. Deadshot is altogether decent. His backstory is somewhat unbelievable, but token enough to be charming. His lines are witty and fitting for most scenarios, but definitely add a misplaced weight to the moment. His costume only appears for a few minutes, as if Will Smith himself was the man the moviegoers came to see. I enjoyed his character, but could have been impressed in other ways.

Now, “the insufferable” take stage far behind the main characters. Of course, I mean to say the tykes who meander their way across the screen and hope nobody trips on them. In order of manageable to mind-bogglingly vapid, the list of bad characters is as follows: Killer Croc, El Diablo, Captain Boomerang, Slipknot, Katana, and the Enchantress. These roles were brought to life by nobodies, for nobodies. The first two included in the list didn’t get enough screen time, with Diablo being a troubling outcast. His background as a vato and trauma-driven commitment to pacifism lends itself to an interesting narrative, but is instead used up to kill him off in a valiant but lame way. The last four don’t have bearing on the plot whatsoever, with the last being the main villain. The writers wield an intriguing plot device: a pair of self-proclaimed gods. Instead of introducing a relevant and interesting take on losing one’s self to a pit of demented thoughts and actions, the Enchantress’ plan is to build a machine that eradicates man because “they [humans] worship machines”. Brilliantly put.

Joker is a separate entity.

Many thanks to Jared Leto for being passed the baton, but he should drop it and promptly get kicked out. I do not harbor bad blood for his performance, which, admittedly I, enjoyed. He deserves to be booted because of his role. Why would a movie advertise a character who isn’t part of the film’s focus? Advertisements across Los Angeles show Joker’s face the most, but he explodes onto the screen and completely washes himself out. A nice hint at the Joker could have sufficed, not the mass campaign of hearing his awful laugh.

There are many aspects of this film I could provide conjectures for to explain why it isn’t a great film. It ranges from the color scheme to the editing, to the sound and to the drip and splatter of emotion across every minute of the film. I enjoyed the film on the whole, largely because of the way the characters are brought to life. The amount of critical backlash is appalling. This film is far too mediocre to encourage a large and violent discontent from fans, but not so much so that it should be dismissed altogether. Perhaps that is why sites like Reddit and YouTube so fervently spew fanboy hate comments. To my knowledge, many ventured into the theatre, and came out smiling at a hot mess that couldn’t stop giving.