The DC cinematic universe is not having a good run at the box office. “Man of Steel” received a lukewarm reception from the audience and “Batman v Superman” has been a critical and financial disaster for DC and Warner Bros. It’s been so bad that a reorganization of leadership for DC properties at Warner Bros. has already been made. DC’s next comic book movie adventure, “Suicide Squad”, was next up to bat. After the “BvS” reception and in a panic, the studio ordered $10 million worth of re-shoots to “fix” “Suicide Squad.” That meant to lighten up the film and make it feel less moody like “BvS.” The time has come for the film’s release. Can this newly shot and recut “Suicide Squad” help rescue DC’s dwindling future in the movie business?
“Suicide Squad” of comic books today is different from its origins, but their mission has always been the same. They are a ragtag team of super powered misfits that play fast and loose with the law. They work for and/or blackmailed by a nefarious shadow character, Amanda Waller (Viola Davis) who works for the government and tasks the team into cleaning up the messes that humankind just can’t handle. This premise is the foundation of “Suicide Squad’s” cinematic adventure. These unsavory folk have been gathered together and tasked with dealing with an existential and otherworldly threat that could lead to the extinction of mankind. Not too much to ask of any newly formed uneasy alliance.
This is where the problems begin for what is sometimes fun, but a completely jumbled mess that is the film “Suicide Squad.” The film starts off with a bit of promise, we are introduced to the team that we’ll be with for the duration of the film. The introductions are straight out of the pages of a comic book. Colorful comic book colored hues of pink, green and purple. Big and bold lettering slapped on screen introducing us to our protagonist’s dossier and intriguing origin story vignettes giving us a taste of who these people are. Margot Robbie, Will Smith, Jai Courtney, Jay Hernandez, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, Cara Delevingne, Karen Fukuhara, Joel Kinnaman play Harley Quinn, Deadshot, Captain Boomerang, El Diablo, Killer Croc, The Enchantress, Katana, and Rick Flag respectively. This is the cinematic “Suicide Squad.” With so many characters to choose from here, you can forget that the ultimate of DC’s “Rogues Gallery” members and Batman’s (who makes a cameo) arch nemesis, The Joker (Jared Leto) has a role as Harley Quinn’s main squeeze.
As this film goes along, the film feels like two completely different versions of the movie were shot and spliced together. The film loses its story focus and gets side tracked by subplots that add very little to the overall proceedings. The film tonally, just like its soundtrack, is all over the map. One minute we get this rambunctious team of bad guys you try to love with clever quips fitting for a film of its comic book style. Then in the next scene a dark and somewhat twisted tale about the team’s past that makes no headway in furthering the plot. Not to mention the Joker’s role feels like an afterthought in the film. Sadly, Jared Leto’s performance as the Joker is underwhelming when compared to the members of the “Suicide Squad,” in particular Margot Robbie and Will Smith who, by midway through the film settle into their roles. Joker should never be an aside in a DC movie going forward if he appears. Unfortunately, the finale to our mess of a movie can’t save this film from mediocrity. It involves an epic battle of evil and not so evil that oddly seems more appropriate in the new “Ghostbusters” feature film.
By the end, the parts are better than the whole of the film. I wanted to like this movie more than I did. Margot Robbie as Harley Quinn stood out the most as a character I’d like to see revisited, but given a proper story. I’m going to guess we will see an alternate cut of this film when it hits home video. Disappointment abounds in this film and that’s only because this film had so much potential of breaking out and being something different and special. The action when it comes is underwhelming, the characters are interesting, but never given any material that pulled me in enough than to like them anymore than on a surface level. Whatever DC and Warner Bros. future plans are for their cinematic universe they need to find a direction fast or the audience is just going to stop coming to see these movies. If Warner Bros. want to attempt what Marvel has done so successfully it’s time they focus on what the endgame of this phase of this series of films will be. I, for one hope they can their act together because with a cast of iconic characters as influential as DC’s, it would be a shame to have their reputations tarnished. As for this “Suicide Squad”, they may need more time in the field to work out their chemistry as a unit or the next step maybe to disband them.
OVERALL: 2 and 1/2 Stars
–originally published in MAUIWatch