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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Review: “Suicide Squad” only missing a plot and characters

Will+Smith+and+Margot+Robby+as+Dead+Shot+and+Harley+Quinn+in+Suicide+Squad%2C+released+to+theaters+on+Friday%2C+Aug.+5.
Warner Bros
Will Smith and Margot Robby as Dead Shot and Harley Quinn in Suicide Squad, released to theaters on Friday, Aug. 5.

I’ve made a lot of mistakes in life, and as a result learned some life lessons. Backflips on a trampoline can bend bones into unnatural angles. Never trust a shady apartment owner named Ramón in Barcelona. Always pack a sleeping bag if you plan on roughing it at a national park when it’s 7 F. None of these mistakes surpassed the cinematic chore that is DC Comic’s latest effort “Suicide Squad.”

“Suicide Squad’s” main transgression: the lack of cohesive plot and compelling characters. Unfortunately, those are the two basic elements required for a story. The film comes across as two hours of swinging and whiffing like Charlie Brown trying to kick a football, and the DC cinematic universe flops on its’ back once again with “Suicide Squad,” a 123 minute technicolor headache.

It’s difficult to pin-point just where this film went wrong, and that speaks to its total lack of cohesion. “Suicide Squad” suffers a bad case of too many cooks in the kitchen, as the finished product comes across simultaneously like a first draft and something rewritten by eight different people. This lends credence to the rumors of last minute reshoots in the wake of the critical mess of “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice.”

The film wastes no time in wasting time, as the opening shot introduces two members of the titular squad, not incidentally its two biggest stars: Deadshot, played by Will Smith and Harley Quinn, played by Margot Robbie. Instead of continuing the character introduction in a tidy scene-by-scene basis, the story jumps to government official Amanda Waller, portrayed by Viola Davis, re-introducing Deadshot and Harley Quinn along with other squad members via a case file briefing and snazzy CGI effects.

The redundancy contributes to the overly long runtime, which easily could have been cut by half an hour. To be perfectly honest, the film wouldn’t have suffered by chopping the 30 minute exposition and jumping right into the scene with the squad boarding a helicopter to fulfill the age old tradition of fighting and shooting things. Especially given the fact no over-arching plot was established anyway.

“Suicide Squad” suffers most severely from its lack of storytelling 101: give the audience someone to root for. The characterization of each squad member began and ended with a single attribute. This not only fails to create compelling characters, but treats the audience as if we’re too stupid to keep track of characters that aren’t walking stereotypes.

You can almost hear the producer as he throws out the one-sentence descriptions of characters to a bored Hollywood exec:

Producer: “This is Harley Quinn, she’s Joker’s girlfriend.”

Exec: “She sounds sexy. She should probably be sexy.”

Producer: “Sexy AND crazy.”

Exec: “I like it”

This applies to all characters in the Suicide Squad, usually to their detriment. No character is given the proper runway to spread their wings beyond a rubber stamped character type. You’ve got Deadshot (good with guns, has a daughter), Harley Quinn (sexy AND crazy), Rick Flag (Hoorah American soldier), Captain Boomerang (Australian + boomerangs), Diablo (Hispanic ex-gangster), Killer Croc (definitely a crocodile, probably) and Slipknot (who cares he literally flew in to get killed five minutes later).

Say what you will about Marvel Comic’s MacGuffin plots, a simple and clear plot surpasses the convoluted mess of “Suicide Squad.” In its simplest terms, Amanda Waller puts together a squad of super villains to keep in the US government’s pocket in case shit hits the fan — as is apt to happen in superhero movies. Alas, cruel fate intervenes when one potential recruit, an ancient deity creatively named “Enchantress,” played by Cara Delevingne, flies the coop and has the revolutionary idea to take over the world.

Enchantress begins to summon some type of apocalypse via an awkward, hip-shaking dance routine. However, the plot fails to draw lines in the sand and give a clear direction to the narrative; who is the bad guy here? At times the film makes Amanda Waller the antagonist, although Enchantress is the one trying to end the world due to her compelling motivation of being evil, full stop.

Not all of “Suicide Squad” is doom, gloom and disappointment. To the surprise of few, Margot Robbie takes the spotlight as Harley Quinn, although the over-sexualization of her character quickly grows tiresome. Robbie’s Harley Quinn certainly provides the most enjoyable presence on screen, and in all honesty I would have much preferred to spend two hours watching a wacked-out Joker/Harley rom-com.

Many will also enjoy the backing soundtrack throughout the on-screen action, but the fact that “Suicide Squad” features both “Seven Nation Army” and a Panic! At the Disco version of “Bohemian Rhapsody” speaks volumes about the film as a whole.

“Suicide Squad” offers the latest disappointment in a weak summer for blockbusters. The disappointment stings in part because the bones of an interesting movie can be glimpsed throughout the gory wreckage of “Suicide Squad.” Perhaps director David Ayer’s original vision was mangled by studio interference, or it could have just been crap in the first place. We’ll likely never know.

“Suicide Squad”: ‘A’ for effort, ‘F’ for execution. Disappointing AF indeed.

Rating: D


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