Suicide Squad (2016): Slow and Not a Little Boring (Review)

Screen shot from Suicide Squad

Written and directed by David Ayer, Suicide Squad tries too hard to be all things to all fans. It aims for the grittiness of Deadpool  sans the ribald and very un-pc humor. “SS” also strives for an “Avengers” mash-up without the cleverness and sheer genius of the cinematic master who helmed the first two Avenger flicks, Joss Whedon.

In other words, the film attempts to “marvel-ize” a group of DC villains and the end result is a movie that is slow, muddled up and not a little boring. Had I seen this offering at the cinema, versus home theatre, leaving the premises would have involved some mild and annoyed cursing.

Watching the film at home required repeated viewings before realizing that the plot was, for the most part, non-existent. There was a mixed up middle bit, but the beginning and the end of the storyline was AWOL.  The film did not wrap things up so much as it just shambled off the screen with a metaphorical shrug of the shoulders.

There are Easter Eggs included in the film. (The entire premise of Waller’s idea revolves around Superman’s death in “Superman vs Batman: Dawn of Justice.” Ben Affleck, as the caped crusader, appears several times throughout the film appearing one last time in a sort of teaser.

Without talking about the things wrong with the backstory of Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie) or how Jared Leto channelled his inner Gary Busey for the voice of The Joker (Close your eyes when Leto is talking and listen. He sounds exactly like a young Gary Busey speaking in a slack-jawed manner. It is uncanny and not a little disturbing.) there are many things to point to that are just…wrong.

There are some standout performances from Robbie, Will Smith and even Leto (sort of) but the one actor who was consistently over the fence with a vengeance was Viola Davis. Davis played this one screamingly straight. Her Amanda Waller was viciously underplayed making her a humorless and downright scary agent provocateur.

The scene at the beginning of the film, where she doggedly cuts and chews her bloody filet mignon  while delivering her plan with a bland monotone between bites is brilliant. She is the “Dirty Harriet” in this scenario, with the steak taking the place of the hotdog that Eastwood’s stoic detective chews while blasting bad guys into oblivion.

Davis’ performance never wavers from that dogmatic and taciturn delivery. Her character is not pleasant. She is this way for a reason, however, the superhero from Krypton is gone and Waller knows that meta-humans are the answer.

The Flash (played by “We Need to Talk About Kevin” and “The Perks of Being a Wallflower” actor Ezra Miller) shows up ever so  briefly, in a blink and you will miss it cameo times two, to reaffirm the meta-human connection, and it is Barry Allan, along with Bruce Wayne that adds some heroic bona fides to the proceedings.

One of the problems with Suicide Squad has to do with the very ambiguity of the players. Waller callously, and illegally, murders the FBI agents who set up and monitor her team’s first outing. When Enchantress, aka June Moon (Cara Delevingne) rebels against the cold boss lady, Waller  repeatedly stabs the witch’s heart with a pencil. 

When the leader of the “good guys” is that harsh and vindictive, it is hard to be impressed with the gang of villains playing good guys to save themselves some jail time.

Overall, Suicide Squad is a shaky 3 star film. The effects are good but with a practically nonexistent plot they are, for the most part, wasted. The storyline, such as it is, wanders terribly and by the end of the film one feels that the time spent watching this DC mess was an annoying waste of time.

Have a look at the trailer and see what you think. Be warned, however, this is one that requires repeated viewing. Even then, the end result is confusion and a tired acceptance that this was a “miss.”

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Author: Michael Knox-Smith

World traveler, writer, actor, journalist. Cinephile who reviews films, television, books and interviews professionals in the industry. Member Nevada Film Critics Society

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