The first time I wrote this review, I had just seen the movie and I was still utterly jazzed by the whole experience. Later I realized that Suicide Squad wasn’t quite the movie I felt it was when I was watching it, and my opinions have since become less positive. This film has a way of drawing you in when you’re watching it that is quite bewitching. It makes effective use of great performances, superb casting and exciting visuals, especially in 3-D; so despite abysmal reviews, I really enjoyed watching this film on the big screen. Unfortunately, at the end of the day, it added up to be only okay for me. The controversy and promotion of the movie was actually a lot more satisfying than the film itself. And because of the hype it received - which it did not live up to - I felt disappointed with the end result when it ended up feeling like an underdeveloped story. But what was it exactly that made this movie entertaining to watch - and what was it that caused it to fall flat? This reviewer intends to explore those very questions in this review of 2016’s Suicide Squad.
Suicide Squad is writer and director David Ayer’s 11th film, and arguably his most ambitious film to date. In interviews it has been said that it was clear Ayer wanted to create something new, interesting and special, that he had a true vision for what he wanted to show us. He desired to paint a dark and gritty, more serious picture of the Suicide Squad, with a focus on getting the most authentic performances possible from his cast. Due to Ayer’s dark, character-centric vision for the film, and the great team involved with the cinematography, this film was incredibly engaging to watch. The music was contemporary, the visuals and CGI were like a moving comic book, and the costumes and sets were stunning. Unfortunately, it was almost impossible to distract from the plot holes and choppy editing that removed pieces of story line to accommodate pacing and gear down the darker feeling of the movie. So even though there were some great scenes, an excellent premise, and wonderful acting, it was difficult not to get bored of constantly questioning the continuity of the plot. Not to mention the amalgamated pieces of DC comic cannon that created the main plot points for this film. Most of which I felt were teetering on the verge between well represented and completely off the mark. I feel this movie does some justice to the DC Comic Universe, and for that I’m grateful, but most of the accurately portrayed comic conformity in this film falls in line more so with The New 52 concept. It’s clear to see that the writers for New 52 have been trying to create something that would be more coherent with DC Cinematic Universe. So perhaps this film wasn’t intended to be 100% true to the older comics, maybe it was meant to follow closer to New 52.
Comic Book comparions aside, this film just seemed like one that suffered from too much input by the studio. It was toned down to appeal to a wider audience, which muffled the true spirit of what Ayer was aiming to create. Luckily, Ayer’s vision did manage to permeate most of the cracks in this film, and so we still get a good feel for what he was attempting to show us. Because of that directorial magic, he was able to create a movie that was still passable, even with all the meddling the studio ended up doing in post. When Ayer came to the table, WB had already started developing their concept of a Suicide Squad movie. So when Ayer took the reins, he thought he was being handed an opportunity to create something special, in reality the studio probably already knew what they wanted to see. When it came time to film, Ayer made sure to use unconventional and borderline invasive methods to extract the darkest and most authentic performances he could. In the end, he managed to coax amazing performances out of every cast member on that set. But when the scenes went to posts, a disturbing amount of them were left on the cutting room floor. It seems like the studio wasn’t interested in producing a picture that was so dark and which might only appeal to a cult audience. They wanted to make sure that as many people as possible would be able to see this film and enjoy it, so they cut a lot of the more disturbing scenes from the movie. This meant that a majority of the scenes featuring The Joker never ended up seeing the light of day. This is probably because Jared Leto’s eerily committed performance was deemed too edgy for mainstream audiences. Which was disappointing because The Joker was used quite heavily to promote the film before its release, and many Joker fans were sad to see that he was absent for most of the actual film. I for one would love to see the film that Ayer intended Suicide Squad to be. Something more serious and heavy, with less focus on action and more focus on creating layered characters and a dark and disturbing, slow boiling plot.
Because of the potential this film has, this reviewer still enjoyed watching it and would still love to see the sequel. But if you do go see this film in theaters, as a record breaking number of people already have, try not to think too deeply about it. Because when you dig a little deeper, the flaws are pretty glaring. It will be interesting to see what the sequels have in store, let’s hope they’re given a little more slack on the leash now that the first film has grossed so well at the box office.
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