Editor’s note: Be sure to check out the rest of our #TBT reviews on the DCEU here.
Prisoner of the moment is a constant feeling for cinephiles in today’s fast-moving world. With the instant reaction world we live in, cinephiles may react on a moment’s notice for a film instead of fully dissecting what they had just seen. In 2016, I was a victim of that very same moment after watching Suicide Squad. After the first viewing, I looked at the positives of Margot Robbie, Will Smith, and YES, Jared Leto and failed to fully grasp the big picture. Warner Bros. stuck their hands in the cookie jar and failed to once again deliver a film that fans of DC deserved which confirmed that Warner’s will continue to make these films the way they want, not the way fans want.
We live in an age where comic book fans feel entitled and believe that studios will make these comic book films with their best interests in mind. That’s not the case. They’re here to make a dollar and make a film that will be accepted, well received and adored by a general audience. Sadly, the reality is that Hollywood will use fan bases to garner ideas, adding to the myth that fans have power in how their movies will come out, but at the end of the day they care about their self-interests. These studios could care less whether a movie receives good or bad publicity because any kind of publicity is good publicity.
The moral of the story for all fans should be this: create your own opinion by watching the film first and ignore the positive and negative rhetoric because after a year has passed, Suicide Squad, is just another mediocre film in a mediocre film universe.
Suicide Squad concentrates on the creation of Task Force X by Amanda Waller, played wonderfully by Viola Davis. In a film where the protagonists are the “bad guys”, the real villain in this film is Waller, who knows how to manipulate everyone and every situation to get what she wants. Her reasoning behind the creation of this group, commonly known as the Suicide Squad is that ‘we got lucky with Superman, who shared our values’ and what would happen if the next Superman doesn’t.” When asked how she would be able to control these group of baddies, Waller in one sentence demonstrates her manipulative abilities, “Because getting people to act against their own self-interest is what I do for a living.”
Premise-wise will echo a familiar backstory, however, what the premise failed to reveal is that the film not only failed to deliver on a villain but especially wasted the performances of Margot Robbie and Will Smith. As a stickler for details, the Suicide Squad remains underground and unknown to the masses. However, they are tasked with taking down Enchantress, a villain that quite frankly should have been taken down by the Justice League.
Another issue with the film is the extended edition. Just like Batman v Superman, Warner Bros. chooses to release a much better version of the film on Blu-Ray instead of in theaters. While watching the extended cut of the film, there is a scene that fully captures the relationship between The Joker and Harley Quinn. The scene involves a truck driver that stops his truck while Joker and Harley are arguing. Harley, to show her love and dedication for The Joker, shoots the truck driver. Not one scene in the theatrical version of the film relayed that message the way that deleted scene did.
The film also became quite messy and once again, a DCEU film suffers from terrible editing. Throughout the film, transitions from scene to scene were quite poor. We have a scene where Amanda Waller is handling business, and then it cuts to a popular scene from the trailer where Harley breaks the glass to grab a fancy bag from a store. This was a head-scratcher for sure as to why an editor thought this was a smooth transition in the film. Warner Bros. needs to let their filmmakers have control over the final product. It will lead to a better film in the eyes of a majority audience, not just a minority.
As stated before, there are bright spots in the film. Deadshot’s introduction, along with Will Smith’s performance in the role, was the biggest surprise in the film. Will Smith is at the top of his game in this role. The relationship between him and his daughter is quite touching. Ayer manipulates the audience by telling you who to get behind. Smith’s charm balances it out as he not only can be serious, but his comedic timing is on point throughout the film. There were moments I laughed out loud at his character.
The other pleasant surprise was Boomerang. Jai Courtney does not have a reputation for being a good actor or being in good movies, so his performance, which was at times hysterical, was a nice change of pace for him.
Now on to the main event and the question everyone wants an answer to: “Is Harley Quinn and her puddin’, The Joker, good in the film?” The standout in the film to me was Margot Robbie as Harley Quinn. Starting with her origin, she embodies Harley Quinn. Her performance felt like it came straight from Batman: The Animated Series, where she originally got her start. From her mannerisms and accent, Margot Robbie became Harley Quinn. Every second she is on screen, she is a joy to watch and I could not stop smiling at every word she uttered throughout her scenes. With added nods to the New 52 as well, Robbie is just perfection in this role and I would hate to think anyone else would ever be able to play this character as magnificent as she did.
In The Killing Joke, the Joker states, “If I’m going to have a past, I prefer it to be multiple choice.” The same can be said for the live action portrayals of the Joker character. Jack Nicholson is different from Cesar Romero. Heath Ledger is different from Nicholson. Now we have Jared Leto. While excellent in his portrayal, he makes this performance his own and differentiates from Ledger.
All of these performances are multiple choice. These actors only commonalities are that they played The Joker and were all damn good in their portrayals. Leto and Ayer take The Joker into a kingpin role, distinguishing from Ledger who was an agent of chaos without a plan, Leto’s Joker knows exactly what he is doing, does it well and continues to come off as the “Clown Prince of Crime” that fans have learned to love and admire throughout the years. Different for sure, but what Joker performance is the same; that is the brilliance of this character.
Suicide Squad continued the DCEU trend of dropping fans’ morale. A film like its predecessor was nothing short of disappointing, but hey, at least the film won an Oscar.
Reel Talk gives Suicide Squad 2 Reels