Well now, this is a film that has provoked a certain audience reaction; it was firmly on my list of “films to see in 2016” though later on, I became aware of the general negative reaction to it. Still, I did actually hear of a reasonable amount of positive opinion as well and I was anxious to see what I would make of it. Would I give in to the general, negative consensus or would I lose myself in the story and have fun watching it?
So the story is: Amanda Waller (Viola Davis) puts together “Task Force X”, a squad of dangerous assassins, criminals and metahumans, led by Rick Flag (Joel Kinnaman) and featuring the likes of Floyd Lawton/Deadshot (Will Smith) and Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie). Together, they must destroy the seemingly unstoppable danger posed by Enchantress (Cara Delevigne).
Let’s start off positive. Will Smith is the film’s MVP, quite surprising since I initially thought that he wasn’t quite right for the role of Floyd Lawton/Deadshot. While I still think that there are better versions of the character out there (Arrow), he is still suitably charismatic and he helps keep the film afloat. Also, Margot Robbie clearly illicits the most smiles as Harley Quinn and Viola Davis is an appropriately tough and harsh Amanda Waller.
Thus completes the “positive section” of my review.
Going back to the million dollar question: “which side of the critical opinion fence will I fall on?”, here’s the answer: hated it.
But where to start? The story is virtually non-existent; it goes in about 500 different directions, from the narrative thread of Harley and The Joker (Jared Leto) doing all sorts of nonsensical criminal underworld stuff to a confusing, preposterous, seemingly never-ending part featuring Enchantress and eventually, to the actual formation of Task Force X. And ultimately, it all boils down to a “the world’s going to be destroyed” ending. Seriously, if you thought Batman V Superman was messy, you ain’t seen nothing yet!
The opening, where we’re supposed to get to know all of the characters, takes forever to get going and pretty much every single scene seems to jump from one pop song to another – annoying! Also there are clearly waaaay to many characters, most of them are criminally two dimensional and all of this makes Suicide Squad completely overstuffed and messy. Oh and Slipknot? A character with a naff ability who’s brought in just to be (SPOLIER ALERT!) immediately killed off, just to demonstrate the “explosive chip thingy”. Good job they didn’t take time to explore his backstory, I might have actually cared when he died.
Then, there’s the overwhelming faux-sentimentality that constantly hits you over the head like Harley Quinn’s bat; the film forcibly inserts subplots about Deadshot and his daughter, El Diablo and the loss of his family, and Harley and The Joker. Combined with constant, unbearable emotional music, these scenes scream out for us to feel pity for these characters but ultimately, this manipulative sentimentality is aggravating and only distances us from these unlikable characters.The romantic subplot between Flag and Enchantress is also insulting and hollow.
THEN, there’s the blatant sexism; from a half-naked Cara Delevigne gyrating like there’s no tomorrow to Harley’s inappropriately short shorts (and Ayer’s particular fondness for filming her backside) and Deadshot’s helpful advice on dealing with Enchantress: “go smack that ass!”, all of this was insanely uncomfortable and completely inappropriate. Gender equality takes a step back . . .
THEEEN, there’s the awful CGI; Enchantress’ minions are cringe worthy and the final act is a barrage of terrible CGI (Enchantress looking particularly dodgy); it’s a shame that films such as Batman V Superman and X-Men: Apocalypse prove just how damaging an over-reliance on special effects can be.
THEEEEEN, there’s the naff performances, though as mentioned before, there are a few good ones. Joel Kinnaman, as with Robocop, is pretty forgettable, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje as Killer Croc simply growls and shudders through the whole thing, Cara “The Eyebrows” Delevigne is completely wooden and unpleasant (I’m picking on her a lot, aren’t I?) and most everyone else makes little to no impact at all, besides illiciting a negative reaction! And, contrary to how I felt when I first heard the casting choice, Jared Leto is criminally underwhelming as The Joker; he has complained that most of his scenes were left out but this is probably for the best as he was utterly ineffective as the “Clown Prince of Crime”. Heath Ledger and Mark Hamill still reign supreme.
THEEEEEEEN, there’s the poor character/costume design; Killer Croc looks insultingly terrible and I think that I’ve already mentioned my problems with the design/costumes of Harley and Enchantress. Seriously, Delevigne looks embarrassingly ridiculous.
THEEEEEEEEEN, there’s the fact that this film isn’t even fun! I mean, even with bad characters, the film could still have been exciting and action packed but no, there are zero thrills to be found, the editing is bad and the finale is a generic, CGI slugfest.
By the end, particularly during the excruciating final battle, I was in a constant state of sighing, eye-rolling and exhausted temple rubbing; all I could think was “MAKE . . . IT . . . STOP!”
A shambolic, manipulative, aggravating film with awful CGI, unlikable characters and a haphazard story. Awful, awful, awful!
And on that note, I can’t even remember the last time I gave a film one star!