Despite my abiding love for the DC Animated Universe (DCAU) and The CW’s run of DC shows, most notably The Flash, choosing among the current trio of DC Cinematic Universe (DCCU) films is like choosing which bodily fluid you want to have defile your morning oatmeal.
From the mawkish grimness and eye-watering CGI that marred Man of Steel came Batman Vs. Superman, a movie with great action padded out with several thousand subplots across an equal amount of minutes, strung together with the logical consistency of Tool lyrics. We arrive finally at Suicide Squad, a film whose major failing is not just defiling one’s oatmeal but serving it in a toilet bowl as well.
Where BvS suffered from an overambitious script trying to accomplish too much, Suicide Squad attempts little and accomplishes less. The ONLY trace of any kind of character development comes from a character who also makes the requisite final-hour sacrifice, against a foe who he is clearly already beating until the screenwriters remembered the stupid, contrived way that they had originally intended for the fight to end.
I shied away from the phrase “heroic sacrifice” because the main cast of Suicide Squad are no heroes, a fact that they explicitly remind the audience of several times throughout the film, usually while looking directly at them to drive home the point. If this was borne out in any way by their actual actions, it may have been unnecessary to stay outright. Unfortunately, the plot itself chooses to insult the viewer’s intelligence as well by showing approximately zero actual bonding between the characters and actually somehow believing they would all voluntarily follow white bread tough guy Rick Flag to save his girlfriend even after all his leverage over them evaporates. Noted “wild card” Harley Quinn even justifies killing the villainess because she “hurt my friends”. Since when does Harley Quinn have friends?
Speaking of whom, Enchantress, the antagonist of Suicide Squad is barely worth mentioning, but follows the X-Men Apocalypse school of godlike beings who believe in holding back on their powers when facing their only real threat because they want to convert our her—sorry, our villains to their cause. Even though, as gods, they don’t need the help.
Her list of goals, motivations, and characterizations is shorter than this sentence.
.Most people are probably going to see this movie for three reasons: Jared Leto’s portrayal of the Joker, the humorous interplay of a lovable band of misfits, and some cool action scenes. Leto, who drifts in and out of the movie because he was too busy in real life mailing his co-stars used condoms (look it up), emotes like he’s in a library and is somehow less remarkable than his one henchman who runs around in a panda costume, when he’s not busy cringing you out of your flesh with lines written by the hypothetical resident 15-year-old to whom most of the script can most likely be credited.
As for said misfits, much like the real MISFITS, there are only a couple of characters who get any of the attention. Viola Davis plays a cold, calculating Amanda Waller, but sadly her talents are wasted on the banal script like an Olympic swimmer in a kiddie pool. Will Smith’s Deadshot is enjoyable up until the point you realize that his entire schtick is being black, from describing Waller as “gangster” to giving her deferential treatment for being the only other black character, to being the only character to have rap songs as his musical motifs. See also the treatment of Hispanic character Diablo, constantly referred to as “ese” and “hombre” unironically by his peers.
I never thought I would be complaining about this in the year 2016, but boy is this movie sexist as all hell. The other major character selling the film, Harley Quinn, is entirely the product of some frantically-masturbating executives who think they can get away with infantilizing AND sexualizing her at once. With no tactical acumen to speak of, and no combat ability besides hitting things with a baseball bat, Quinn arguably has no purpose in the movie at all except for the occasional one-liner and to be constantly confused at why her male teammates are always gawking at her.
Diablo’s flashback with his loving (and presently deceased, of course) wife begins immediately with him slapping her ass, and when Enchantress attempts to sway him with promises of bringing her back, he immediately fantasizes about her going down on him. Diablo himself has sworn an oath of nonviolence at the start of the movie, begging the question of why he’s even coming along at all. But his change of heart was shown in one of the trailers anyway.
All of this could have been forgiven, all of it would have been okay, if ONLY Suicide Squad had some decent action to it. Instead, we’re given a group of faceless soldiers with guns, along with Flag and Deadshot, who are better at guns, and the back-alley brawling of everyone who doesn’t have a gun interspersed here and there for filler as they mow down blackberry-faced zombies (seriously) on dimly lit sets at night never taking a single hit or looking like they’re breaking a sweat. I actually caught myself dozing off during one of them. I’d rather watch action scenes from the original Star Trek.
I can hear the sounds of thousands of tattoo guns firing up as basic girls around the globe get choice Joker dialogue like “Are you willing to die for me? No, are you willing to live for me?” or “Fire of my loins, itch of my crotch” printed on their bodies and get their Harley Quinn costumes ready for October. Perhaps the best way to describe the movie concisely is the fact that in something supposedly written for adults, Quinn says “Normal is just a setting on a washing machine!” without the slightest hint of irony. In closing, fuck this movie. If it came on my TV at home while I had nothing better to do, I would burn my house down. (PG-13, 130 mins)