Release date: 5th August 2016/Watch the trailer here
Suicide Squad. My most eagerly anticipated film of 2016. The film that I’ve been so excited for for well over a year, ever since I first found out that I would be seeing Harley Quinn on the big screen for the first time and that there would be a new incarnation of the Joker. I remember seeing pictures of filming taking place last year, scenes that seemed to be delving head first into the complexities of Harley, the Joker and their relationship. I was overjoyed when the first Comic-Con trailer was released, over a year ago now. It was dark and haunting and embodied the exact tone that I had always wanted Suicide Squad to have.
Then, Batman v Superman was released. It was met with an overwhelmingly negative response, many criticising the film for being too dark and lacking humour. There were rumours of Suicide Squad reshoots to inject a bit more lightness and fun into the film. The trailers that followed were different, and as more and more promo was released in the build-up to the film’s release, my heart began to sink. The film that was being promoted now seemed worlds away from that first trailer.
I’d like to think that the reshoots were the problem; that the original vision that David Ayer had in mind for Suicide Squad was entirely different to the finished product. Because frankly, Suicide Squad is a mess. It takes almost an hour for a plot to be established, and when it finally is, it’s formulaic and boring. There’s no main character amongst the ensemble. There’s no character development. The Joker, who appeared prominently in the film’s promotion, is left with little more than ten minutes of screen time. There are many, many moments from the trailers – many of them great – that are entirely absent.
It’s hard to explain the plot, because there really isn’t much of one. Amanda Waller (Viola Davis) has decided to assemble a team of villains to defend the world against future threats: a threat which ends up being the witch, Enchantress, that has possessed Cara Delevingne’s archaeologist Dr. June Moone and now wants to take over the world, as all film villains apparently do.
But the issue really doesn’t lie with the generic plot and villain. That would be excusable if the rest of the film was fun and filled with the moments of character greatness that the trailers promised.
It’s difficult to explain just how terribly Suicide Squad has been edited, but I’ll try: Suicide Squad has been edited to the point that it no longer feels like a cohesive film. Instead, it’s a compilation of scenes that have been thrown together in no particular order with no real structure to them. It’s like a two hour trailer, but messier. There’s a soundtrack that reeks of an attempt at Guardians of the Galaxy – except every single scene within the first hour (seriously, every scene) is set to a random song that neither fits nor makes sense. And it’s so frustrating.
There were moments that I couldn’t wait to see in the film. There were lines of the Joker’s that gave me goosebumps, and lines from Harley and Deadshot that made me laugh. But no time is ever given to these moments. They’re throwaway one-liners, lost amongst the soundtrack and the headache-inducing editing. Everything in the film becomes forgettable, because we’re never given enough time to remember it.
It’s so bad that it’s impossible to critique the actors fairly. There’s little to no character development, and what there is focuses on a tragic backstory rather than allowing these bad guys to just be bad for the hell of it. Harley and the Joker’s relationship is romanticised; the scenes that we saw being filmed last year that hinted at the complex and abusive nature of the relationship are discarded. I know that I didn’t like Jared Leto’s take on the Joker, but I also don’t feel fair for disliking it when I only ended up seeing ten minutes of it. There have been many, many articles discussing the extreme lengths that the cast went to in order to get into character, but there’s no evidence of any of this on screen. Everything about Suicide Squad is so utterly unremarkable.
It’s such a shame that Suicide Squad had to become what it is. It didn’t need the forced-in humour. It definitely didn’t need the out of place Justice League cameos to tie it in to the rest of the DCEU.
Instead, it feels like a jigsaw puzzle gone wrong. There are pieces missing and the ones that remain have been put together the wrong way, so that it’s impossible to see the overall picture. The result is one big mess – and it’s so disappointing.