FlixChatter Review: Suicide Squad (2016)

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Not every year we get not one but two highly-anticipated DC superhero films where the hype is simply overwhelming. I personally have not been anticipating either movies, and I tried with all my might to avoid watching every damn clip/trailer/featurette, etc the studio releases practically every single week. Well, you already know how I feel about Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice, and now we’ve got the DC ensemble cast about supervillains instead of superheroes.

Now, it certainly helps if you have seen BVS, as this film starts out in the aftermath of that film. “What if the next Superman is a terrorist?” intelligence operative Amanda Waller (the always solid Viola Davis) asks a team of officers and general. She argues that mere mortals won’t stand a chance against such formidable foe, so she assembles a team of incarcerated supervillains and send them off on a deadly black ops mission in exchange for clemency.

SuicideSquad_ViolaDavis SuicideSquad_team

The first act of the movie pretty much consist of character introduction: hitman Deadshot (Will Smith), deranged former psychiatrist Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie), Aussie thief Captain Boomerang (Jai Courtney), pyrokinetic former gangster Diablo (Jay Hernandez), and monstrous cannibal Killer Croc (Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje). They’re to be placed under the command of Col. Rick Flag (Joel Kinnaman), whose girlfriend June Moore (Cara Delevingne) is actually possessed by a witch known as “Enchantress.” If you think that’s already impossible to keep track, we’ve also got Flag’s bodyguard Katana (Karen Fukuhara), and of course, one of the most [over]-hyped character of the year, The Joker, played by recent Oscar winner Jared Leto. Now, as tedious as the intros may be, it does help someone like me who isn’t familiar with the comics to figure out just who the heck everybody is.

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Though billed as an ensemble cast, the two leads of the film are actually Will Smith and Margot Robbie. The rest are pretty much relegated to supporting roles, with the Joker’s role ends up being nothing more than a glorified cameo. Even as I’m watching the movie, I could just feel the wrath of the Joker’s (or Leto’s) fans seeing how little his screentime is. Now Batman is barely shown here but that’s understandable as this is a movie about the villains. It seems a ton of Leto’s scenes has ended up in the cutting room floor.

Now I wonder if the filmmaker thought that the Joker is such an an overpowering figure that he easily steals the spotlight from everyone else. The longer he’s on screen, the film might no longer be about the Squad, but more about the iconic DC villain. Even the scarce number of scenes between him and his lover Harley (a case of doctor/patient relationship gone terribly wrong) is no doubt one of the most memorable scenes in the movie. I think from those deleted scenes they could probably create a Harley & Joker movie that would likely be a massive hit.

SuicideSquad_Harley_Joker

For a movie built on ‘it’s good to be bad’ principle, I expect a lot of fun with the characters. Well, there were some amusing scenes and some that made me laugh, but overall it’s not that joyful of a ride after all. First of all, none of these supervillains are really that bad in this movie. Heck even one of them didn’t want to perform his abilities because he’s developed um, a conscience. Then there’s the drab and dour look of the movie popularized by DC’s purported *savior* Zack Snyder. Director David Ayer pretty much adopts a similar style, with occasional garish, candy-colored color-scheme in some scenes. Oh and there’s sheer lack of originality in the music department too, pretty much copying Guardians of the Galaxy in its overuse of pop music. Heck they even used the exact same song Spirit in the Sky! At least in Guardians, the music is actually part of the plot involving the lead character, but here it’s just used haphazardly seemingly just to fill up dead space.

That said, I was actually surprised that I wasn’t bored watching the movie despite its 123-minute running time. I guess that would be the one pleasant surprise about this, oh and the fact that there weren’t as many cringe-inducing scenes as BVS. Unfortunately, the more I think about this movie, the less positive I feel about it.

As for the performances, I was quite surprised that I didn’t mind Smith here despite my growing apathy towards him (interestingly enough I also quite like him in Concussion). Courtney didn’t irritate me as he usually did in other roles, and Kinnaman is pretty good despite being a rather vanilla character. It should be no surprise to anyone that the scene-stealer here is Robbie. The Aussie actress is on the brink of overexposure these days as she seems to be everywhere. But she does have talent and personality that matches her beauty.

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Her Harley Quinn is fun to watch when she’s bad, but she also has a certain vulnerability that she lets out when there’s no one around. Now, Leto’s Joker didn’t really wow me. He’s nowhere as phenomenal as Heath Ledger in the role, but I think that’s unfair to expect him to be, simply because the two Joker characters are quite different. Ledger’s more of a sadistic psychopath who in Nolan’s version ‘just wants to see the world burns.’ Leto’s version is a deranged maniac, more of a warped prankster than merciless criminal mastermind. For one, I can’t imagine Ledger’s Joker to ever be in a relationship with any human being, romantic or otherwise.

The third act of the movie is the most problematic. It’s ironic that in a movie about bad guys, the actual villain is irritatingly absurd. Whilst the enchantress starts out rather intriguing, it seems to have gotten more ridiculous as the movie goes on. Nary of a compelling backstory, this diminutive witch spews out an army of blob-headed creatures that are so gross to look at. The finale looks as if Warner Bros and Sony are sharing the same SFX department to create the effects as it looks so similar to the one in Ghostbusters! Just like Man of Steel and BVS, once again the final battle is nothing more than a mind-numbingly loud and bombastic CGI fest.

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Plagued by multiple reshoots, perhaps the movie was doomed from the start. As the writer and director of the movie, it was risky for WB to hire David Ayer, known for modest-budgeted, gritty crime dramas who has never done a blockbuster film. Now, hiring filmmakers with indie-cred can pay off (as in the case of the Russo Brothers for Marvel), but I don’t think it pays off as well here. I wouldn’t call Suicide Squad a huge mess, and it truly IS better than BVS, but really that’s not saying much.

But I think the most disappointing part is that for a movie that strives so hard to be different, the result is pretty much more of the same as the previous DC movies. Though I’m glad I did see it so I can judge it for myself, it’s not something I’m keen on watching again anytime soon. This one makes me dread the other DC ensemble movie Justice League even more, once again promoted in the post-credit scene featuring Bruce Wayne. I have said in the past that I’m more of a DC than Marvel fan, but sadly DC still has SO much catching up to do to match its arch rival.

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So what do YOU think of Suicide Squad?

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49 thoughts on “FlixChatter Review: Suicide Squad (2016)

  1. Well, I guess I’ll have to wait for it on TV. I just hope Wonder Woman doesn’t fall into the same trap that the other films of the DCEU have fallen into. It better be good or else Warner Brothers is fucked.

    1. Hi Steven! I still have hope for Wonder Woman and even Aquaman piqued my interest a bit as Jason Momoa seems to have a ton more personality than Henry Cavill as Superman. But yeah, DC is so far behind compared to Marvel generally speaking.

  2. You haven’t given it a score? It is clear that was a lot more Joker stuff and because there is so little it is pretty hard to form a good opinion about Leto’s version. I understand your criticism, but I had a blast with it and would love to watch it again.

    1. Hi Nostra! That’s odd, for some reason my rating fell off the post. I’ve fixed it now, I gave it 2.5/5 which is average. It’s not terrible but can’t say it was good either. But I was pleasantly surprised that I didn’t flat out hate this, whilst I was absolutely irritated by BVS.

  3. I was thinking of seeing it at the cheap matinee show but now I’ll just wait for the inevitable director’s extended cut that will come out on Bluray. Since apparently Warner Bros. hired another agency to cut the movie to make it more “fun”, maybe Ayer’s original version might be better?

    1. Yeah I think the original version might be very different than this one. Whether or not it’s better remains to be seen, but I’d think there might be more of the Joker in there.

  4. “I could just feel the wrath of the Joker’s (or Leto’s) fans seeing how little his screentime is.” – you said it. My next RF will feature Leto speaking out about this. I love that he is showing his anger me and so many others feel. The novelization of the original script is out and it is amazing, furthermore most of those scenes were shot. At least 20 minutes of Joker was cut because the studio thought they were too intense. I cannot remember an actor being treated by a studio as disrespectfully as here.

    1. Hi Margaret! Oh wow, I didn’t know there’s a novelization of the original script. Boy I could see that an actor would be fuming if they had put so much effort into it and they all end up in the cutting room floor!! The studio thought they were too intense??! Goodness, it proves that it’s all about money, I bet they’re just afraid it’ll get an R rating that’ll hurt their bottom line. Crazy that they treated an Oscar winner so disrespectfully, I can’t imagine Leto would want to be back reprising his role in future DC movies.

      1. Yeah they cut all the stuff of him being abusive towards Harley – the electroshock is all different with her begging him not to hurt her but then getting into it. There is tons of dialogue missing from chemical bath scene. The whole Batman chases Joker and Harley was longer. Batman tells Harley she is taking her away from the Joker because The Joker took something from him (Robin). There is a whole scene of Harley pulling a gun at Joker and him slapping her. In the helicopter scene he actually pushes her to die after she makes him angry. He is also involved in 3rd arc fighting the Squad to get Harley. The studio gave the movie to edit….to production company which cut Bohemian Rhapsody trailer to make it more like trailer. They cut all the intense moments. Leto and that is good news for me and other people who want him back is reportedly under 4 picture contract.

        1. Ah it seems that perhaps WB didn’t want Joker to appear ‘too evil’ by cutting out all the scenes about him being abusive. I mean he seemed like a fun boyfriend in this movie, not at all sadistic. It’s funny because Ledger in the Nolan’s version is downright terrifying and he’s the epitome of evil, WB didn’t have any issue w/ that?? Dang, I definitely will rent the Director’s Cut then which hopefully will be released, as the intense stuff is what the Joker is known for, it’s idiotic that they cut those! Ah ok, if Leto’s under a 4-picture contract then he’d likely be back, but man, WB needs to quit meddling [read: messing up] their own projects!

  5. I’m actually curious to see this, which is surprising because I’m so not a fan of comic book movies. It definitely seems like cheap entertainment, so I won’t be going into it expecting to be completely enthralled. Also, is it bad that I’m actually glad to hear that Leto’s role is so small? I’m just not a fan of his.

    1. Hi Tiff! Ahah, well it cost $175 mil to make so I don’t know about cheap. I think the somber look is becoming more common now in superhero movies. I’m actually not as huge a fan of Leto’s simply because I’m really just not fond of the Joker to begin with. I admired Ledger’s take on it and he was mesmerizing in the role, but I’m still not a huge fan of the character itself.

      1. Lol, yeah definitely not cheap in a literal sense! I watched a Batman cartoon series when I was a kid, and I never really cared about the Joker either. Although, I was always stoked when Harley Quinn made an appearance. I did always like the Two-Face villain, at least in the cartoon.

        1. I actually never read the comics but I could see Harley being a fun character. Robbie was fun to watch here so I’m sure a standalone movie w/ her would be a hit.

  6. I know there was a lot of hype for Jay Leto’s performance and have heard most of the cast had little screen time. I ‘ve heard the storyline was lame. The reviews I’ve read have been mediocre. You’ll probably not be surprised I wasn’t really interested in seeing this. Nice review as always, Ruth.

    1. Hi Cindy! I would be surprised if you were anticipating this. It’s really the case of studio meddling that hurt the quality of the movie, so yeah, not something I’d be interested in seeing again. I am curious though what you think of Star Trek Beyond, as I know you were hugely anticipating that one.

      1. Yep. I would like to know what I think of it,too. I was vetoed by the group and haven’t been back to the cinema. I was going to go on Thursday night with my daughter, but it was the first week back to school and I was exhausted. Sigh.

        1. Oh my! I didn’t know you hadn’t seen the movie yet. What do you mean vetoed by the group?? You mean your family? Oh well, I sure you you can catch it sometime soon, I think it’ll still be in the theaters for a while.

  7. I definitely hear all your gripes, but I really liked this one. For my money, it’s easily the best of the 3 DCEU films to this point. I know that’s not saying much, but hey, baby steps.

    1. Hi Dell, which are the top 2 DCEU for you? I hope BVS isn’t one of them, ahah. There are some fun moments in SS, but that third act was a huge mess.

  8. Nice review Ruth, I enjoyed SS quite a bit but it was by no means perfect. I was apprehensive about Will Smith as well but was surprised how well he fit in to his role and Margot Robbie was great as Harley. I wasn’t sure about Leto’s Joker intially but by the end of the film was sold on this new interpretation of the character.

    1. Hello Chris! I was surprised that I enjoyed Will Smith’s performance, but was flabbergasted by how little the Joker was in this movie. I still prefer Ledger’s performance, but then again Leto’s barely register as so many of his scenes were cut.

  9. Funny, I gave it the exact same rating. And you know, I liked Jared’s Joker.. but then again, I didn’t think about Heath’s Joker at all because Suicide Squad version of the Joker felt a lot more comic book than The Dark Night’s version. And that’s sort of the problem with this movie too, it reads too much like a comic book, rather than a movie. It is messy and chopped up, and Robbie deserves much more as an actress with her portrayal of Harley because her character alone saved this movie from complete disaster.

    1. Hi Getter, glad we’re on the same page. I actually liked it a bit more just right after I saw it, but the more I thought about it the more I thought about how flawed this is. Since I never read the comics, I thought Ledger’s version is just downright terrifying as well as mesmerizing, Leto’s is more circus-y which isn’t really my thing. But yeah, Robbie should get her own Harley movie.

  10. So disappointing. I haven’t seen it yet but having read so many negative reviews its beginning to look like I need to lower my expectations. Perhaps this is a film – like many of the comic book adaptations – that suffers because of how much fans are already invested, in some form or other, in the characters, story arcs and overarching plot lines. Thankfully, I’ve noted that many casual fans seem to like it but that might just further highlight that Suicide Squad is going to split audiences with most being disappointed.

    1. Hey Dan! Well I’d say go in w/ neutral expectations. I avoided a lot of articles/clips about it before seeing it, and it did have some fun parts. For one it’s more enjoyable than BVS, I was surprised I wasn’t bored at all throughout, though the third act was quite irritating.

  11. Definitely a fair assessment. Normally I’d NEVER been pumped about a superhero film, but that teaser trailer from last year, and all the cuteness of Margot Robbie, sucked me in. That third act was hard to watch (minus the final, final scene). Enchantress was just a mess of a character and a waste of my life.

    1. Hi Courtney! I think the fact that I wasn’t as pumped about this one so I went in w/ neutral expectations. Margot is definitely a star, and the best character in the bunch. Yep, Enchantress is so annoying isn’t it? This wouldn’t be the first time I’m underwhelmed by Cara Delevine in a movie!

  12. Nice review! So much of Suicide Squad was built on, like you said, it’s too good to be bad premise and attitude. And unfortunately a lot of the movie ends up being quite tame and less of an adrenaline rush or thriller. The cast and soundtrack was great but the story was too all over the place, especially the villain.

    1. Hi Katy! It really was tame wasn’t it? Even the violence didn’t feel all that brutal as the squad were fighting faceless blob-headed creatures. But that villain is just embarrassingly bad.

  13. This movie was way too disjointed for me. I liked Robbie, but the rest of the cast had no stand-outs and I really didn’t care about them.

  14. “Though billed as an ensemble cast, the two leads of the film are actually Will Smith and Margot Robbie”

    I think I said the exact same thing. They had the chemistry I was hoping to see between Robbie and Leto, but they made the movie worth watching. Those enemies they were fighting were just dumb.

    Bummed to hear you didn’t like this as much as I did tho, my friends who were with me loved it, but like me were PISSED that there was bugger-all of the Joker. I don’t think its fair to compare Leto’s performance against Ledger because we only saw him for about seven minutes! Then again, I haven’t seen Ledger’s Joker, maybe I should shut up.

    You thought the intro was bad? I actually really enjoyed the intro, I thought it was funny and had some great music. Hell even JAI FREAKING COURTNEY was good here!! I also never thought of GotG once during this movie, but then again GotG is one of the worst films I have ever had the displeasure of watching and I promptly forgot most of what I had watched when I finally made it to the end.

    The CGI ending here was indeed silly and typical of these movies, not just DC but Marvel as well. And if this is what DC is like compared to all that Marvel garbage – the darker tone etc – then I’m gonna go watch me some DC films as I have positively despised every Marvel film I have ever seen.

    Unless Watchmen was Marvel, I can’t remember.

    Great post Ruth 🙂

    PS – I re-watched The Dark Valley on my new TV and sound-system. Holy hell does it look incredible!!

    1. Hey Jordan! I’m surprised you actually went to see this man, and enjoyed it too! I still think ‘Deadpool’ is a better movie overall though, for sure there’s character development in there 😉

      Y’know, I didn’t dislike the intro. Heck it’s definitely more fun than the third act w/ all those lightning and the blob-headed creatures. Yeah I think we can’t compare the Joker not just because of the lack of Leto’s Joker scenes but also because they’re written very differently. I still prefer Ledger’s version and it’s simply iconic. Oh man you REALLY should see Nolan’s Batman trilogy or at least The Dark Knight, even just to see your fellow Aussie there displaying a phenomenal performance.

      I gotta admit I didn’t dislike Jai, as I mentioned in my review. The role fits him I think, though I could see someone like Sam Worthington pulling it off too.

      Watchmen is from DC comics, so you’re definitely more of a DC guy, Jordan. Have you seen the original Superman w/ Christopher Reeve then? Now in terms of character, NOBODY could top Reeve in that role, even if the movies are kind of cheesy now.

      P.S. Woo hoo!! Then you will love my review of The Dark Valley that I gave Rob for Genre Grandeur 😀

      1. It was my kinda humour. Dark. I must admit though there were times where I was the only one in a packed cinema laughing like a maniac, so it might be just me 😉

        I’m gonna watch Nolan’s films. I tried once but didn’t get far. Definitely gotta see Ledger’s Joker, and I agree you can’t compare them because they are two extremely different interpretations. I loved Leto – they should make a bloody Harley/Joker movie, that is what we all want! Well, me at least!

  15. Great review!! Woo, I just finished mine and I completely agree with the relationship between Joker and Harley. There was just too little that was explored! It felt like another one superhero film to be honest 😦 Character development was non-existent.

    1. Hi Jia! I commented on your review. Yep, no character development at all other than the brief snippets of who each of the squad member is in the intro. But the Joker/Harley story is completely botched here.

  16. Great review! I will definitely still be checking this out at some stage, but I just don’t know if I will be heading out to the cinema to see it.

    1. Curious to hear what you think of this one Zöe. Well I honestly think you can just wait to rent this later if you’re not a big fan of the comics or comic-book movies. It certainly isn’t one of the best by any means.

  17. When the early reviews came out it made me hesitant to watch it in theaters. But I figure I’d watch it and decide for myself. I think were on the same page. It’s not a terrible film and there are some amusing moments. I liked the two lead characters. But there’s a better film to made with this squad. Fine review!

    1. Hi Eddie. I honestly have forgotten most of it by now, though I did enjoy it a week ago when I saw it. It’s not a particularly memorable film as it didn’t have any emotional involvement. I was impressed by Smith and Robbie though, surely the latter will have her own Harley movie one day.

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  19. Nice review Ruth. I think you make a fair assessment of the film and it’s flaws. Though I think I liked it even less than you. Ultimately though, this is such a missed opportunity. It’s a film that could have been way better had they kept it a little grounded. And I mean, is a cohesive narrative and a coherent flow of scenes too much to ask?
    I wasn’t all that wowed by Leto’s Joker either. He struck more as a thug with style than the crown prince of crime, but I think it could be an interesting take, if they actually explore it, in hopefully the upcoming Batman movie.

    1. Hello Khalid! Y’know I think the longer time passes the more I dislike it. It’s certainly not something I care to watch again. Ahah, thug w/ style, very true! He doesn’t have the gravitas that Ledger had in the role, who I believe wholeheartedly as a criminal virtuoso. I hope the Batman films w/ Affleck would be eons better than this and anything from Snyder!

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