Review - Suicide Squad
‘Suicide Squad’ is the latest from the production line of big budget superhero films. The build up to its release came with a wealth of hype and debate - from the casting of Will Smith and Jared Leto, to the quality of the trailer.
The film itself is a decent, yet empty spectacle; weighed down by several faults. Some characters are arguably underdeveloped, such as Slipknot who is essentially there to be killed for early plot tension. And I’m still unsure what purpose Killer Croc served to the plot, if any. The nefarious bogan Captain Boomerang gets a few cheeky lines, but contributes little overall. But the worst case of underdevelopment belongs to the villain; who is given minimal motivation, and barely anytime to make an impression. In regards to plot, the lack of development causes several moments which have you questioning certain characters’ motivations and reasoning; to the point where it’ll surely have a high point tally on the notable YouTube series CinemaSins.
But, there are some things to applaud. The colourful, elaborate visual style is engaging and at times stunning. Smith, Leto, and Margot Robbie all give entertaining performances; this is clearly their show (Though Leto’s Joker often borders on a Heath Ledger impersonation). And there are many edgy moments and humorous lines that add a vibrancy to the film, and sets it apart from archetypes of the genre. Though, is this entirely the case?
Marvel has cashed in big, and reaped critical praise from two of their recent efforts; ‘Guardians of the Galaxy’ and ‘Deadpool’, both of which are heavy on comedy and utilize a soundtrack of hit songs. Now it seems that rivals DC are emulating the same formula, hoping for similar success. This element of levity was also a part of the pre-release hype, as it was reported that reshoots of the film had been ordered. Though this is common in big budget productions, the reshoots were reportedly to make the film more light-hearted. This certainly helped, as the unremarkable action meant that the banter of the characters was the most memorable thing about ‘Suicide Squad’.
This supposed panic from the studio was in no doubt in part spurred by the negative reaction to, and box-office drop-off of ‘Batman vs. Superman’, which was criticized for its sombre, serious tone.
So where does this leave the future of the superhero genre? With sequels to ‘GOTG’, ‘Deadpool’ and ‘Suicide Squad’ in the works, and the latest trailer for ‘Justice League’ being joke-heavy, it seems that the genre is slowly splicing itself with comedy. This is supposedly a step away from the gritty, semi-realism established by Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight Trilogy (though those films had their moments of levity) which franchise films of the past decade have been trying to emulate. And it seems that this isn’t entirely contained to the superhero genre, as it’s been recently reported that the upcoming Star Wars instalment; ‘Rogue One’, has undergone reshoots to lighten the mood and bring some levity.
Franchise films are thus employing comedic elements as a cornerstone for audience engagement. Though this can be refreshing as opposed to a film that takes itself too seriously, this cannot be a substitute for good writing; as ‘Suicide Squad’ evidently still had problems. The best ‘quick fix’ I can suggest to the Hollywood big-wigs in regards to franchise films is compelling characters and clearly motivated action; this is where ‘GOTG’, ‘Deadpool’ and the Dark Knight Trilogy all succeeded, and what DC ought to follow if their new extended universe is to leave an impression.