Director: David Ayer
Writer: David Ayer
Verdict: A mess
Look, it is what it is, it’s kicked up a whole hunk of storm but when the dust settled, back story aside, is it any good?
Suicide Squad follows a group of colourful characters as they’re recruited by the covernment in the wake of Superman’s death in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. The logic is that Superman wanted to help, but the next one like him might not be. Which sounds fair enough, but when you get Harley Quinn with a hammer and Captain Boomerang, who’s major power is that he… owns a boomerang. Yeah.
The fact that this is a film of two halves. At this point the background to this film is so infamous it’s impossible to watch the film separate from it. So David Ayer, who’s work is changeable at best, is defintiely a director with an artistic voice. Even in his worse work like Sabotage, he is a filmmaker with a voice, and he is theoretically the perfect director to make a good go of Suicide Squad a property that is frankly farcical. He is the best person to make a go of it in the DC cinematic universe which aims for something more realistic. For example, he does a really good job of transforming Captain Boomerang to fit in with the universe he creates, same with Harley Quinn. The Captain Boomerang sucess relies, in part, on a really unexpectedly assured performance from Jai Courtney, who has always been just extraordinarily blank and charaterless in equally blank and characterless films like Divergent, A Good Day to Die Hard, and Terminator Genisys. However in this film they seem to use him right, he essentially plays a loutish, drunk, cheeky, Australian, and maybe it’s because he is Australian, but he does it really, really well, and he’s actually really fun. Margot Robbie, (The Wolf of Wall Street, Neighbours) is really good as Harley Quinn. The production design is also, really good. It has a kind of Escape from New York vibe and it looks really good. That being said there’s some CGI aftereffects of the styalisation of the film, that kind of greeny-purpley-cartooney thing it does, that I might find good if there weren’t aspects of the movie that make it seem obnoxious and infuriating.
I’ve just outlined all the good things about the film, and they’re actualy there probably because of David Ayer who, in work like Fury, has taken actors who I don’t like, like Shia LaBoef and given them intersting roles, and he is a man who understands production design. That being said, good things end there, and there are aspects of this film that are kind of crap that would still have been crap if the studio hadn’t fucked him around, although that is debatable because we can’t know what the studio cut and what they didn’t. For anyone who doens’t know, which is unlikely, David Ayer made a David Ayer film then the studio extensively reshot and recut the film until it was something completely different, and they actually went with a cut done by a trailer house. I watched the extended cut that’s meant to fix all the problems of the cinema cut, which I havn’t seen, and it’s still obnoxious, filled with missing plotlines and characters trampled underfoot by the choppy editing. The first half is just terrible and actually vaguely migraine inducing because it’s just trailer after trailer introducing all these characters, AND THEN WE INTRODUCE THEM SOME MORE, and character backstory gets lost in the chopping, so I have no idea who half the actual Suicide Squad are beyond Viola Davis, (Prisoners), who, bless her, I do love but flounders in this, spitting exposition at her boardroom members, one of whom is David Harbour, who we know from Stranger Things is a great actor but has virtually nothing to do here. It’s really garbled, and it’s sad because I can see moments in this film that are David Ayer moments where it seems like a proper film. Not even a proper Comic Book movie, like a proper film, and I know Jared Leto signed onto an arthouse movie which this is definitively not. By the way, his Joker is pretty terrible, and it would be fine if he just stopped referencing better iterations than himself. At one point he called himself an “enigma” or a “state of mind”, Heath Leger’s Oscar winning portrayal in The Dark Knight was that, incedenatlly that might just be the only comic book movie my Mum would like because , despite it’s flaws it’s a proper movie, which is what all comic book movies should aim to be. Jared Leto’s joker is not a ‘state, of, mind’ his joker is a jumped up, self indulgent, money loving gangster, which would be fine if he wasn’t trying to tell us all the damn time that he was more than that. Blimey, he is also farcical with his delivery occasionally. That being said, they take on with the first live action iteration of Harley Quinn with the Joker, very dangerous territory with an absive relationship, whic I feel David Ayer is mature enough to handle but DC studios aren’t. In the final product, they don’t always get it right, and there is actually demonstrable studio meddling that makes it’s handling worse, but it does for the most part a faily sensitive job.
The second half of the film is actually a lot better, maily because it’s the least fucked around with. Y’know, I do generally keep swearing to a one word limit on this blog, but to say ‘fucked around with’ is the only real way to convey quite the extent to which the studio meddling ruins this film and it’s such a shame. Anyway, the second half is much better, it gives the plot, which aside from style is really kind of by the books, time to breathe, along with the characters. That being said, I did end up feeling for some fo the characters despite myself, not least Joel Kinnaman, (The Killing, RoboCop), and Jay Hernandez, (Hostel), which I really didn’t see coming.
So, it’s really not as bad as people say, critics like Robbie Collins and I Hate Everything have really taken against this film and it really doesn’t deserve it. It’s not perfect, by a long, long, long way, but it’s certainly better than Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice. Peice of fucking shit that was. There are moments in this film that I can see David Ayer ripping his hair out, with this and the way Sony messed around Josh Tranq in Fantastic Four to the point that he made tweets that almost stopped him working in Hollywood again, can we just stop doing this, and when you hire a director with a voice, let him fucking use it. It’s honestly infuriating.