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Suicide is painful

Rarely has a film so energetically hyped as Suicide Squad received as much bad publicity on the eve of its release. Amid the inescapable promotion have risen reports of a production and postproduction rife with strife, of studio interference and various principals ascribing blame to others.

It’s no matter who’s to blame, because there’s plenty to go around. Suicide Squad, the big-screen adaptation of the DC Comics series, is an unholy mess. This is one of the worst superhero movies ever – yes, right down there with fellow DC duds Superman IV (1987) and Batman & Robin (1997) – and a quintessential example of what can go wrong when a release date is announced before even the script has been written and the first frame of film shot.

The titular team is comprised of Will Smith’s Deadshot, Margot Robbie’s Harley Quinn, Jai Courtney’s Captain Boomerang, Jay Hernandez’ El Diablo and Adewale Akinnuouye-Agbaje’s Killer Croc. These “meta-humans” are selfproclaimed bad guys, but they’ve been recruited by government honcho Viola Davis (looking extremely bored throughout) to combat even worse guys.

Essentially, Suicide Squad is an ersatz riff on Marvel’s Avengers series, and writer/director David Ayer is forced to provide brief, thumbnail origins for each of them. The actors do their utmost to bring some attitude to the proceedings, but the film is such a calamity that one is hard-pressed to sympathize, or even like, them. Attempts to do so, such as having Deadshot be a devoted daddy and El Diablo mourn the family he accidentally killed, are hackneyed and obvious.

Robbie is one of the few performers to survive this fiasco, and Jared Leto as her onscreen paramour The Joker is an inspired casting choice, but he’s not even the main baddie here. That distinction goes to Cara Delevingne as the Enchantress, an ancient witch who has taken possession of archaeologist June Moone.

The idea of the supermodel-turned- (so-called)actress playing a studious scientist earns a chuckle or two, but most of Delevingne’s time onscreen is spent undulating (not a bad sight) in front of a gigantic shaft of blue light that looks like it was left over from Ghostbusters, and most of her dialogue was dubbed (hmmm …).

Ezra Miller pops up briefly as The Flash and a glum-looking Ben Affleck reprises his Batman v. Superman role as The Dark Knight, while Joel Kinnaman, Karen Fukuhara, Adam Beach, Scott Eastwood (Clint’s son) and Common also turn up – to little effect.

The action, such as it is, is punctuated by high-decibel rock tunes, usually employed to introduce each character in as loud a fashion as possible. There’s plenty of gunplay, swordplay and stunts, but Roman Vasnayov’s cinematography is so gloomy and murky it’s sometimes difficult to ascertain precisely what’s taking place on the screen.

Overstuffed but undernourished, this cacophony of stupidity bears all the telltale signs of movie-making by committee post-production surgery. There are three editors and four “additional” editors credited. Even so, there are lapses in continuity throughout and an unmistakable odor of desperation as the film plods along. The attempts to “fix” things in post-production exemplify throwing good money after bad, and then throwing worse money after bad. Judging by the end result, the predominant goal of Suicide Squad is making money, which evidently took precedence over making it right … or even good … or even watchable. !

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