by Travis Vogt
I’d really love to say that I thought Suicide Squad was good. After reading all of the negative reviews (40 on Metacritic? That is WAY too high) and hearing all of my friends tell me how much I was going to hate it, it would’ve been a neat angle. To be one of those “Actually…” people, unearthing a fresh perspective on commonly held opinions. Sadly, friends, today is not that day. Suicide Squad is one of the worst big-budget Hollywood films I’ve ever seen. We’re talking Eragon bad, and I don’t say that lightly. This is one of those movies that sucks immediately. Even during the opening credits, before a frame of story had been projected, I was literally making loud fart noises in the back of the theater. And by “literally,” of course, I mean “not literally.”
I’d love to go through all of the trouble of assembling a legit essay about why Suicide Squad sucks ass, but such a task is not worthy of my exalted English degree. If the lazy asshats who made this film weren’t gonna put in any thought or effort into the making of a $175 million movie, why should I write a legit think piece? I’m just gonna do this baby in list form and get it out of my system.
THINGS I THINK ABOUT SUICIDE SQUAD
1. Most people don’t like this movie and yet it is STILL somehow overrated.
This movie is an absolute mess. The biggest problem is that it doesn’t know what it wants to be. Sometimes the Suicide Buddies are super evil, sometimes they’re downright lovable. This isn’t a “moral objectivity grey areas blah blah” sort of thing. The characters aren’t complex. They’re just evil sometimes and then sometimes not so evil. Because I guess you wouldn’t like the movie if it was filled with a bunch of purely evil pricks. Apparently the people who made this movie have never seen a Tarantino film before.
Suicide Squad was directed by David Ayer, a talented-enough guy who also directed Fury—which does not look like a film made by a person suffering from several concussions at once. My guess is that the producers are more responsible for the garbage-ness of the film, and that guess is based on facts that I read. The disastrous production was the usual amalgamation of idiots meddling, lack of vision, forced reshoots, focus-groups-as-religion and not having a very good script to begin with. It’s a garbled cacophony of nonsense. My jaw dropped during one scene in particular: the Joker offers his girlfriend, Harley Quinn, to…some guy, as a favor…possibly sincerely? Or maybe it’s a trap? And by the way, this takes place in a flashback. Okay. And then the guy says he doesn’t want Harley because he respects the Joker and then the Joker shoots him and that’s the end of the scene. This scene goes on for five minutes and nothing coherent happens whatsoever. I don’t know what’s going on or why or who is motivated by what. It’s purely inept filmmaking, to the point that I couldn’t believe that the producers watched this final cut of the scene and said “Yes. Good enough. Send it to theaters!” I feel like the braintrust behind this movie said “fuck it” an awful lot during production.
2. Jared Leto is not getting enough recognition for how much he sucks as the Joker.
I mean that. His Joker is legit the worst Joker of all time. Every choice is obvious and/or unsatisfying. I think the director might have said “Hey, what do you have for us with this Joker character, Academy Award winner Jared Leto?” And Jared Leto was like “Oh, you know, he laughs, he’s weird. He’s touchy feely. Gonna put a tattoo that says “Damaged” on my forehead, so that’ll really do a lot of the legwork for the character. I dunno, I’ll figure it out on set.” And David Ayer was like “You’re the one who somehow has an Oscar, J. Let! Let it ride!”
I get that people want to talk about Leto’s weird and stupid behavior on set and how some of his scenes got cut, but let’s not forget the most important thing: his Joker is really lame. Slightly less scary than (and possibly inspired by) Jim Carrey in The Cable Guy.
3. Stop it with the Gator Guy growling.
Here’s a fun bit of trivia. After every single time somebody in this movie says something, the movie cuts to the Gator Guy, who promptly growls discontentedly. It’s not a particularly cool thing to happen in the first place, but somehow the editors decided that Gator Guy growling was absolute gold. “Look, the guy from The Killing just said that this mission is gonna be hard. Audiences are going to want to see the Gator Guy growl after that. Audiences crave that kind of shit. Yes, I know it’s the 87th time we’ve cut to the Gator Guy inarticulately voicing displeasure, but trust me. If we ever show an interaction that doesn’t end with the Gator Guy growling, you’re gonna be like ‘What’s the Gator Guy think of that?’ Mark my words.”
4. Margot Robbie steals the show. So what?
Yes, I agree, Margot Robbie technically “steals the show.” But that show is called Suicide Squad, so who cares? That’s like being the best character in The Garbage Pail Kids Movie. Harley Quinn is just as ineptly handled as all the other characters. What the hell is the deal with this Harley Quinn lady? I certainly don’t know after watching this movie. She’s always talking about how evil she is, but she seems nice enough most of the time. Everyone seems to like her. She’s wicked crazy, apparently, but mostly we know that because people are always going “You’re totally crazy, you crazy, crazypants!” And then she’ll be like “Thanks! It’s true how crazy I am! Crazy crazy crazy! Okay, let’s go take care of business, everybody!” And then she goes off and acquits herself well in the respective fields of fighting and leadership.
5. You can’t start being a movie 70 minutes in.
At one point, fairly close to the climactic battle at the end, all of the super bad guys—harnessed in the name of good—decide that the mission can’t be completed, so they go into a bar and have a heart to heart. It’s super serious and they talk about really heavy personal shit and they also talk about, like, ideas and thoughts and such. Harley Quinn acquits herself well in the field of philosophizing. Will Smith continues to seem like Will Smith instead of a bad guy. And this scene goes on for—and I’m not exaggerating this number—one million hours. This movie is nothing but a sloppy pinball machine of stagey music video shots, dorky graphics and WAY too on-the-nose music cues and then, out of the fucking blue, it’s a heartfelt chat-fest? Who cares what these vaguely defined weirdos think? I don’t want to hear about how these people feel inside; you already did too good of a job making me not care about a single one of them. At least Gator Guy has already been telling us how he feels the whole time. By the way, he feels growl.
6. Come on, DC. Get it together.
One of the most bedeviling questions that I’ve ever grappled with is, “Which movie is worse: Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice or Suicide Squad?” Man, that’s like some sort of reverse Sophie’s Choice. They are both so very, very terrible. DC is having a really tough time imitating that ol’ Marvel magic. The good news is, audiences don’t seem to care all that much—they made Bats V. Supes a mega-but-still-not-as-mega-that-they-were-hoping-for box office hit and Suicide Squad seems to be putting up similarly undeserving numbers. The ultra-generous American comic book audience appears willing to give DC a nice long grace period to work their shit out. But man, how long is this gonna take? Who’s in charge of the film department at DC? Is it Bob Kane’s ne’er-do-well grandson? Some Music Man-style con artist?
The shame of it is, DC has been producing very high-quality animated films that exist in their universe for years now. Check out Justice League: The New Frontier, Batman vs. Robin or Throne of Atlantis. Hell, check out virtually all of the DC animated films of the last 10 years. They are uniformly solid-to-great. Story, character and design are all impeccable and brought about by folks who are unmistakably affectionate towards the material. Plus, there’s all kinds of kick-ass, comic book-style action. DC clearly has talented people working for them. They just need to start looking for help with their big blockbusters a bit further down the food chain. The folks currently running the show are absolutely not doing them any favors.
Thanks, Gator Guy. I couldn’t agree more.
Travis Vogt is the editor of the Scarecrow Blog. Follow him @travisvogt.