Suicide Squad (2016)
August 4, 2016 6:19 PM - Subscribe

A secret government agency recruits imprisoned supervillains to execute dangerous black ops missions in exchange for clemency. There will be spoilers galore all up in this mofo.

The film isn't great, but it's enjoyable. What makes it work is the personalities of the main characters and the recognition that using bad guys to battle evil is a problematic. It doesn't take itself too seriously and the trailers don't hint at the small delights inside.

There are plot holes and logic gaps galore.It's a mess and busy, right from the start. Too little time is spent with many of various characters, some who barely have a line or two, such as Katana or Killer Croc. But they do have presence and the brief flourishes of a personality, so it works.

Will Smith does a good job of playing Will Smith playing a comic book character, Margot Robbie does Harley Quinn proud and Viola Davis kills it as Amanda Wallace. Too bad Jared Leto doesn't work as the Joker. You can almost hear director Davis Ayer saying "Laugh like Ceaser Romero, the original Joker" and Leto is saying "Who" so Ayer just sighs and says "Laugh like a crazy person, but not like Heath Ledger did the Joker and Leto says "ok" and you just weep for the loss Ledger, 'cause really this shit ain't working.

Yes, Ben Affleck puts in several appearances as Batman, but they mostly work and make sense. Thankfully we didn't have to see the scene of his parents being shot. Yes, the Flash puts in an even briefer appearance, but again it work. Warner Bros is building its DC universe and is smart about not putting it on too thick.

I've seen a few reviews talking about how great Margot Robbie is as Harley Quinn and yes she's good, but Viola Davis playing Amanda Waller is the film's secret weapon. She cobbles the team of criminals together by sheer force of will and manipulation. Yet when it unexpectedly blows up in her face, she remains a driving force and it's delight to find out she's the special person the team has been sent to rescue. She's immoral for all the 'right' reasons, always one step ahead of everyone and relentless in her control of everyone as she pushes all their buttons. Hopefully she'll get a larger role somewhere else in the franchise or even her own movie.

A lot has been said about the terrible reviews of BvS and Warner Bros. awkward attempt at building a cinematic universe for its DC Comics branch. Suicide Squad is where things start to go right. Granted, its in a stumbling fit at times, but the movie is a crowd pleaser, especially with the bar set low by BvS. Yes, the various hip musical cues call to mind Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy, which did a much better job. But if we say that movie is sa urprisingly different way of doing a steak dinner, then SS is alright hamburger. One's clearly better than the other, but both hit certain satisfying spots.

There is one very well done mid-credits trailer, but nothing at the end.

I didn't see BvS, but several people in the audience were quite vocal about how much better Suicide Squad is in comparison.
posted by Brandon Blatcher (82 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
I've been seeing commercials for this for months now and didn't realize until yesterday that Will Smith was in it. Am I just oblivious or have they not been advertising him at all?
posted by 2ht at 7:03 AM on August 5, 2016

The film isn't great, but it's enjoyable.

Counterpoint: It's a boring, too-long slog of a film with very little to recommend it at all.

Will Smith is good. The Batman cameos are good. Margot Robbie is fun, if you can get past the bit where you feel complicit in the film's perviness of handling her.

Everything else about this film is bad, and for the most part it's not even fun bad. It's just joyless. It's the ultimate result of creating a comic-book movie by committee. It wants to be daring, but it won't commit to the idea that these guys are villains - I mean, the most surprisingly evil thing in the entire movie is something Amanda Waller does, the rest of it is the Suicide Squadders killing other bad guys and monsters, and who cares about nameless bad guys and monsters? By the final act they're talking about how they're a family now. THESE PEOPLE ARE SUPPOSED TO BE GUILTLESS MURDERERS.

It's gutless and it's garbage and it's one of the worst superhero (?) movies ever.
posted by mightygodking at 8:55 AM on August 5, 2016 [7 favorites]

I think the studio kind of had an inkling of how bad the movie is if they were desperate enough to give free tickets of it through a T-Mobile promotion on it's opening weekend.

Yes, I took advantage of the deal, so will see it today.
posted by FJT at 10:02 AM on August 5, 2016

I'm not going to see this (you could pay me, but I wouldn't volunteer to see it for free), but following the production drama has been fun,

A source with knowledge of events says Warners executives, nervous from the start, grew more anxious after they were blindsided and deeply rattled by the tepid response to BvS. "Kevin was really pissed about damage to the brand," says one executive close to the studio. A key concern for Warners executives was that Suicide Squad didn't deliver on the fun, edgy tone promised in the strong teaser trailer for the film. So while Ayer pursued his original vision, Warners set about working on a different cut, with an assist from Trailer Park, the company that had made the teaser.

By the time the film was done, multiple editors had been brought into the process, though only John Gilroy is credited. (A source says he left by the end of the process and that the final editor was Michael Tronick.) "When you have big tentpoles and time pressure, you pull in resources from every which way you can," says this source. "You can't do it the way it used to be, with one editor and one assistant editor."

In May, Ayer's more somber version and a lighter, studio-favored version were tested with audiences in Northern California. "If there are multiple opinions that aren't in sync, you go down multiple tracks — two tracks at least," says an insider. "That was the case here for a period of time, always trying to get to a place where you have consensus." Those associated with the film insist Ayer agreed to and participated in the process. Once feedback on the two versions was analyzed, it became clear it was possible to get to "a very common-ground place." (The studio-favored version with more characters introduced early in the film and jazzed-up graphics won.) Getting to that place of consensus, however, required millions of dollars' worth of additional photography.
So the worst aspects of the current glut of superhero films: forced worldbuilding to establish a franchise model, studio meddling in service of setting up that franchise, and then endless reshoots and edits fueled by focus grouping.

Warner/DC seems rattled by BvS's tepid reception, even though it did respectably at the box office. Thursday night preview numbers suggest the same for SS: probably a record setting August opening that still fails critically, and sours the downstream IP.

edited: Included the source link for the blockquote.
posted by codacorolla at 11:50 AM on August 5, 2016 [4 favorites]

Sooooo here's a previously
posted by infinitewindow at 1:18 PM on August 5, 2016

I gave up on the DC films after being bored to tears through the last Batman movie (The Dark Knight Rises). I skipped Man of Steel, and of course skipped BvS.

So - is there any reason Suicide Squad should be on my list? Rotten Tomatoes has it at 26% (Top Critics 20%) which is basically identical to Batman v Superman (27%|23%). Should I even put it in my Netflix queue?
posted by RedOrGreen at 2:37 PM on August 5, 2016 [1 favorite]

When I saw this was going to be PG-13, I wondered. When I saw the reviews . . . yeah, I'll wait for Redbox.
posted by Bee'sWing at 3:09 PM on August 5, 2016 [1 favorite]

Yes, the Flash puts in an even briefer appearance,

Well, yes.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 3:28 PM on August 5, 2016 [8 favorites]

mightygodking was too modest to link to his hilarious takedown of the movie's premise:

"we need metahumans to beat this other metahuman!"
"who do you have"
"a guy who shoots people"
"we have those, they're called 'soldiers'"

"i've also got a crazy lady who hits people with a hammer"
"why is that better than a soldier with a gun also trained in close combat"

"okay, how about this, a guy who shoots fire from his hands"
"he doesn't want to shoot fire from his hands anymore though"

"oh and I've got a guy who throws boomerangs and likes to murder people"
posted by straight at 4:31 PM on August 5, 2016 [33 favorites]

In line to see it. Bunch of people in costume and big crowds. I'm not all that excited to see it but it looks like a hit.
posted by octothorpe at 4:38 PM on August 5, 2016

Big fan of the original John Ostrander/Kim Yale comics. This isn't even close. I blame the New 52.
posted by kewb at 5:07 PM on August 5, 2016

One of the skyscrapers in the film was the John Ostrander building.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 5:31 PM on August 5, 2016 [1 favorite]

The John F. Ostrander Federal Building was the full name.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 5:59 PM on August 5, 2016

Well that was a reasonably diverting night at the movies but such a clunky mess of a film. You have to wonder if the studio's last minute recuts salvaged an unreleasable film or if they made an OK movie worse. In any case, the pacing was very weird and the action scenes were more incomprehensible than most modern action movies.
posted by octothorpe at 8:06 PM on August 5, 2016

Oh and for all the hype of Leto, not only is he only on screen for about five minutes but he's terrible.
posted by octothorpe at 8:09 PM on August 5, 2016

Now that I'm thinking about it after a beer and half, it seems like the film had a first act and then jumped right into a big long third act and basically skipped the second. We have the long exposition stuff introducing the team and then they go right into fighting the big bad without much in between.
posted by octothorpe at 8:32 PM on August 5, 2016 [3 favorites]

Which is something they could have worked with, what with the Enchantress immediately turning against them. Ideally, they would have started the movie cold with Flag and June going into the tunnel, Enchantress betrays them and the team is gathered up to attack her. THEN during the journey to her is when we're introduced to the Squad's backgrounds, which gives them a chance to bound and thus the whole "we're friends now" thing would make some sense.

Suicide Squad is a great concept and reports say Ayers original version was darker in tone, which sounds like it would totally work in this instance. Adding the large amounts of humor did the film no favors.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 9:06 PM on August 5, 2016

I'm pretty much identical to mightygodking here. The movie was joyless garbage with unconvincing villains, nothing that convincingly bonded them together or made us give a shit about them as a team, and it turns out you can stop a 7,000 year old godlike creature with a very small bomb. Oh, and a little girl uses her body to shield a fully healthy and conscious Batman from a gun, and he just stands there and lets her.

Oh and for all the hype of Leto, not only is he only on screen for about five minutes but he's terrible.

He's boring, is what he is. He is a boring generic gangster with a stupid looking aesthetic, even when adjusting your expectations for a clown villain. He looks less like the Joker and more like a guy who's really into the Joker. Why on earth Harley would be obsessed with this skeevy moron or how he could be the world's greatest detective's arch nemesis, who knows.

Margot Robbie was fantastic and really rose above the material. I wish everyone who decided her tits and ass would also be characters in this movie had known that. Or at least paid them a salary too.
posted by middleclasstool at 9:39 PM on August 5, 2016 [2 favorites]

I'm still waiting for someone to give me a reason to give a shit about Boomerang. I wonder if the scenes that made him at all interesting were all dropped in the emergency last minute editing?

It was bad enough that I started assuming he was gonna die early, and they were just softening the punch by not making you care about him (I was close...).
posted by idiopath at 9:44 PM on August 5, 2016 [1 favorite]

Yes, this was pretty terrible and not really in a so-bad-it's-fun-way, just in an awful film-by-committee way. Margot Robbie does make a meal out of her role... and that's about all the good I can say about this film. Spending half the film introducing the characters and the second half of the film battling a villain who only exists because Amanda Waller wanted to form this team is kinda annoying.

I don't wanna say BvS is better than Suicide Squad, but at least that film had Batman and Wonder Woman?
posted by crossoverman at 6:40 AM on August 6, 2016

The thing is "we only had to fight this thing because of your manipulative shit" could have actually been a decent dramatic element to the story - but instead it's just implicit.
posted by idiopath at 9:03 AM on August 6, 2016 [2 favorites]

It's heading towards a massive opening, no surprise there, be interesting to see how it does in the second week. I'm betting that overall it'll reach the 750-800M needed to break even.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 9:11 AM on August 6, 2016

Probably go a little beyond that actually.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 9:18 AM on August 6, 2016

I kept on trying to find reasons to justify why this film deserves its low Rotten Tomatoes score and some of the more hyperbolic headlines (WashPo: ‘Suicide Squad’ is perfect for 2016. Which means it’s absolutely terrible. And so on.), and I couldn't. I was entertained. The film was not good, nor was it the type of film that critics would ever say is good, but it wasn't hyperbolically bad. It wasn't unwatchably bad. It didn't take beloved long-running characters and ruin some childhoods. It wasn't exceedingly harsh, nor even exceedingly ugly. It was schlocky, B-movie, popcorn-worthy bad: think Resident Evil, the Mummy sequels, most video game adaptations, the weaker Fast and the Furious installments, Wild Wild West. (Now you see why Vin Diesel is coming back as xXx? Long live the late '90s to early '00s). Bad, but entertainingly so.

It's the ultimate result of creating a comic-book movie by committee.

Maybe, but no less than any other superhero movie. Even Guardians of the Galaxy, which I loved, felt like it boiled down to the Marvel-Disney formula, complete with a CGI final fight with no stakes whatsoever. Even Deadpool seemed like it shooed in jokes and pop cultural references and misanthropy at times that didn't seem appropriate.

I sorta like how Suicide Squad, in some ways, was a deconstruction of modern superhero films, an unintentional Mystery Men. The fact that instead of waiting until the final no-stakes-whatever battle to fight faceless CGI goons, they're upfront about how those monsters were basically the default enemy. The "We need to go to that floating pile of trash" line. And how, if you think about it, Enchantress and her literal Putty Patrol are basically Power Rangers. This is a Power Rangers film.

I also thought the final defeat of the villain scene in Suicide Squad, while draped in gratuitous hammy slow-mo, was less corny than Guardians of the Galaxy's corny "everyone literally hold hands and use the power of friendship" final scene. At least it involved the squad using what they're good at to aid each other.

The thing about DC movies is that when they're bad, they're interestingly bad. Marvel movies are usually good, but they're never really interestingly good. When made by Disney, they reside in the uncanny valley of unparalleled production value, which gives off a sterile, soulless sheen that you can sort of notice in your peripheral vision. It's the same thing with Pixar. Eventually perfection becomes something you don't really want to watch. It becomes limited. It lacks ambition to challenge. DC films are unpleasant to watch, but at least they're interesting.

(As an aside, the production value of this film was pretty good! I'm talking about the style and details in both the character designs and some of the sets. Whatever you can say about the filmmakers, they did put in effort in trying to stay true to the letter, and probably the spirit, of this original comic book)

By the final act they're talking about how they're a family now. THESE PEOPLE ARE SUPPOSED TO BE GUILTLESS MURDERERS.

Only el Diablo did that, which made sense, because he was both a guilt-feeling murderer, and the character who most lacked a family. Clearly he was the one who was most willing to accept the squad as a surrogate.

Lest you think I'm being contrarian for the sake of it, there's a reason why I'm comparing this to Resident Evil and other failed adaptations. There are definitely mechanical flaws that make the movie worse:

* bad editing and murky lighting during several of the fights, which make them incomprehensible and defeat the purpose of an action film
* aforementioned characterization problems- the team falls together too quickly, the progression is too fast- they basically got past two scenes, the initial fight near the crash site, and the Federal Building, and now suddenly they're a team? Ridiculous.
* underused characters

Of course, the film's pacing felt fairly quick for a superhero film, which is probably due to edits that shortened the material. Pity they didn't do a great job of the clips, though.

It's gutless and it's garbage and it's one of the worst superhero (?) movies ever.

Really? Worse than Catwoman? Worse than Daredevil? Electra? Punisher? Green Lantern? Seriously? I really don't understand the current narrative against DC movies, even when Zack Snyder isn't involved.
posted by Apocryphon at 10:45 AM on August 6, 2016 [2 favorites]

* underused characters

They could have gotten rid of Captain Boomerang, Katana and Slipknot without losing much. It's not like any of them are developed as characters much.
posted by octothorpe at 11:32 AM on August 6, 2016 [1 favorite]

They, uh, did get rid of Slipknot, to demonstrate that the implanted bombs were real.

Katana was absolutely crucial for the film to be able to say it has an Asian character.

Cap'n Boomerang was essential for that all important pink horse market.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 12:33 PM on August 6, 2016 [2 favorites]

Slipknot? Oh god, I've been calling him Doctor Ropes for months! Why didn't anybody tell me?? Wait, which one is he again?
posted by Servo5678 at 12:41 PM on August 6, 2016

I kept on trying to find reasons to justify why this film deserves its low Rotten Tomatoes score

Seems likely that bad movies have historically been over-rated and people are getting tired of it. Widely available news about what a shit-show this was behind the scenes might be why this one is the tipping point. All the rework and squabbling implies the studio knew they were serving a shit sandwich and they expect viewers to lap it up anyway, believing that audience standards, which Hollywood has spent years driving down, will be low enough to slice the s off shit and make it a hit.

Tentpole blockbusters have been racing to the bottom almost since the concept was invented. Why is it surprising when people say "You've arrived!"?
posted by under_petticoat_rule at 1:04 PM on August 6, 2016

All the rework and squabbling implies the studio knew they were serving a shit sandwich and they expect viewers to lap it up anyway, believing that audience standards, which Hollywood has spent years driving down, will be low enough to slice the s off shit and make it a hit.

Well, they got my $10 so I'm as complicit as anyone in supporting this.
posted by octothorpe at 1:12 PM on August 6, 2016

I kept on trying to find reasons to justify why this film deserves its low Rotten Tomatoes score

Because critics are tired of blockbuster films that turn out to be terrible messes that don't seem to give a shit about basic storytelling. Take mightygodking's comments, it sounds like they're personally offended that this movie was ever made. Hence the wide difference between the tone of the reviews and the opening weekend box office.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 1:41 PM on August 6, 2016

But that's what I'm saying. This movie was a bad dumb action movie, but it wasn't that bad. It wasn't as interestingly flawed as Batman vs Superman, but if anything, that makes it more entertaining and watchable and unpretentious. Where was the same level of vitriol for, say, Independence Day 2? (Or Jurassic World, for that matter?) it's ridiculous that critics are choosing this as the hill to begin the anti-superhero movie backlash on when there have been way bigger duds in the past. As far as the audience take on it goes, let's see if there's a significant drop in box office drops in the subsequent weekends.
posted by Apocryphon at 1:50 PM on August 6, 2016

Where was the same level of vitriol for, say, Independence Day 2? (Or Jurassic World, for that matter?)

I'm hearing/reading this argument a lot. With Age of Ultron thrown in for good measure. And for me the reason we didn't get that level of vitriol for those films is that A) did anyone really think Independence Day 2 was actually going to be good? B) Did anyone think World/Ultron was going to upend expectations of their franchises?

Suicide Squad could have been a fresh take on superhero films, but it wasn't. It could have redeemed the new DC-verse but it gave us the same shit we didn't like about MoS and BvS. It could have given us characters we gave a shit about, but it didn't.

Those other films had characters and/or concepts that some of us are already predisposed to. Ultron is a mess but at least we give a shit about the characters?

In SS, all I kept thinking was I didn't care about the characters. Now you can make me care about shitty people, but SS didn't do that. They tried in the most basic, ham-fisted, screenwriting 101 ways but failed. Deadshot looking in a store window and seeing a jacket his daughter wore - that's supposed to be a character moment? Seriously?

There were times in SS where I wanted to burst out laughing at the sheer ridiculousness of it all. I wish I had now. I might have had a better time, even if the audience would have looked at me strangely.
posted by crossoverman at 4:27 PM on August 6, 2016 [1 favorite]

You have to wonder if the studio's last minute recuts salvaged an unreleasable film or if they made an OK movie worse.

I read elsewhere that SS was never intended to be a tentpole. It was intended to be a small movie. A sweet little treat for fans. But, when BvS tanked, the suits-in-charge panicked and pushed to bulk-up SS into a big movie, losing its soul in the process.
posted by Thorzdad at 5:50 PM on August 6, 2016

Oddly enough, I cared about Amanda Waller and Colonel Flag. Both at least had solid, not too hamfisted reasons for their behavior. Sure, Flag's was loooove, but it didn't feel an contrived as Deadshot's cliched love of a child.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 7:22 PM on August 6, 2016 [2 favorites]

I kept on trying to find reasons to justify why this film deserves its low Rotten Tomatoes score

Partly could be that RT isn't Metacritic; are review counts as "fresh" if it represents a six out of ten or more, and the total percentage of "fresh" reviews comprises the percentage score. So if 100% of reviews gave the film five of ten, rotten tomatoes would score it a flat zero.

A few people seem to be very keen to take the big opener as a repudiation of the critics from "real people"; I think a better measure will be if it sustains on words of mouth over the next week once the costume brigade are done. I'm curious, but I was curious about the first Cavill superman, and that was so wretched I'm not sure I can bring myself to revisit this universe.
posted by ominous_paws at 1:13 AM on August 7, 2016 [1 favorite]

I was wondering if the studio released this to critics with the intention of getting bad reviews. They could have just not shown it to critics and people would have gone anyway but maybe WB wanted to stir up some controversy to get extra press and get all the twitter trolls out yelling at reviewers.
posted by octothorpe at 9:59 AM on August 7, 2016

These movies are essentially critic-proof, at least opening weekend. Your opening weekend geek-out fan is going to buy without a look at reviews, and if they've pre-ordered for fear of the crowds, they're buying at least a week before the reviews are even available. Plus some people just don't give a shit about criticism and would rather find out for themselves. Plus some people really just wanted to see Margot Robbie in hot pants or Batman being Batman.

Staying power is indeed a more meaningful measure in today's market than opening weekend numbers. BvS showed that, big time. The idea that big dollars on opening weekend is an indicator of quality or that the critics are "out of touch" with "real" people is frankly kind of goofy.

Michael Bay's made a career out of making terrible movies that feature shit blowing up good, and plenty of people only care about that spectacle. There's nothing worse about enjoying that than enjoying a fireworks display, but neither does it make the Transformers movies good movies. It makes them good effects showcases.

Judged on those lines, SS is a pretty decent effects showcase. Outside of that and the performances of half the cast, it is an absolute mess. There's nothing at all wrong with enjoying that, but if I have a choice between watching this or Fury Road or really any Marvel movie chosen at random, there's no contest. if that makes me an out-of-touch snob, I am completely okay with that.
posted by middleclasstool at 1:38 PM on August 7, 2016 [3 favorites]

Suicide Squad is an interesting depiction of American foreign policy. Superhero films have been doing that a lot recently, but SS, ironically, might actually end up being the most accurate one.

First off, though, I want to talk about Viola Davis' performance as Amanda Waller. Just as Gal Gadot's presence in Batman vs. Superman, it's terrible that her role has been erased from the discourse by the critical pummeling of both films. But here we have a character female, minority, of an age and body type far different from the typical norm of women in superhero media, being the strongest and most powerful character in the whole movie. She's audacious, she's iron-willed, she's a patriot. She's also ruthless, authoritarian, and a government-sanctioned murderer no less bloody-handed than the criminal dupes she's taken over.

It's a damn shame that the badness of this movie has dominated its discussion, instead of how groundbreaking the depiction of Amanda Waller on screen is, for a superhero movie.

Waller is not omnipotent nor omniscient either, and that's where the sign of our times starts. The whole point of Suicide Squad is the notion of blowback. The scheme to create a counterweight to the potential threat of superhero vigilantes creates an actual superhuman threat. The policies and activities of our nation's intelligence agencies and military leadership have caused no shortage of actual threats, as well. Instead of other films that assign that blowback to unintentional failures caused by heroes who are ultimately good-willed and Have Their Heart In the Right Place, or to internal villains who were HYDRA the whole time, SS reframes it in a cynical but more true-to-life way: the people behind it are real people in the government who believe in protecting the country, but have become so paranoid and corrupted by power that they've essentially become villains in their own right.

And as an aside, it's 2016 and they don't all have to be old white men who starred in All the President's Men! The face of our political and economic elites have shifted. No matter which political party or political alignment, you can be female and/or a person of color and still participate in the whole Treadstone thing.

Also, has anyone brought up that with the Wonder Woman movie, DC-WB is creating a female superhero-centric movie before Marvel-Disney? Has anyone pointed that out yet? It's interesting that despite the problematic and occasionally downright regressive sexual politics portrayed in the DC films, or at least the Zack Snyder ones, they're still committing to a major superheroine movie first. Or maybe it's just that Marvel doesn't have any female heroes as prominent as Wonder Woman. Anyway.

Political blowback is depicted in Suicide Squad with the subtlety of Harley's comical oversized mallet, of course, but maybe that's true to life itself. American foreign policy is often less the product of Illuminati-like conniving meticulous indefatigable elites, the nightmares of Alex Jones. More a mess of competing, brutish, and ham-handed interests and uncaring bureaucrats. There's a half-cogent metaphor somewhere in Suicide Squad that captures the spirit and the tone of our distressed times better than anything sanitized from Marvel-Disney. Refreshingly honest about our civilization's brutality.
posted by Apocryphon at 2:19 PM on August 7, 2016 [10 favorites]

Suicide Squad isn't good, partly because we've already seen a movie like it, and it isn't Guardians of the Galaxy. It's the 2010 movie Predators. Both movies are about a team of badasses (consisting of criminals and soldiers) forced to work together. But that's not where similarities seem to end. Both teams seem to be quarterbacked by an uneasy partnership of a cynical mercenary and a more honorable special forces soldier. And both teams have a Japanese stereotype with a katana and a Hispanic gangster stereotype (though to their credit, Katana is not a Yakuza member and anybody playing a gangster of any kind compared to Danny Trejo is going to fall short).

And yeah, you can argue both movies take elements from even of older and better movies: The Dirty Dozen or even Seven Samurai. And you'd be completely right. The point is, just like the Hero's Journey, there' a well-trodden path to making a movie about a a group of unlikely heroes forced to work together towards something. Look, I think it's totally unfair to compare Seven Samurai to Suicide Squad (which I now notice have the same letter alliterative title), but that's not what I'm trying to say. What I'm trying to say there's a formula that's already been laid out so why did you screw it up WB/DC? No one was expecting something new and amazing, but is it too much to expect a decent workman-like film turned in?

(Even Mighty Ducks did the team of misfits thing better!)
posted by FJT at 4:05 PM on August 7, 2016 [1 favorite]

The funny thing about this film is that the squad doesn't really do anything that normal soldiers couldn't have done as well or better in defeating the Enchantress and her brother.
posted by octothorpe at 4:46 PM on August 7, 2016 [2 favorites]

Aw shoot, Apocryphon. You're making me want to go see this.
posted by figurant at 5:32 PM on August 7, 2016

Disclaimer: I received a free ticket courtesy of T-Mobile, so that definitely helped my levels of tolerance towards this movie.
posted by Apocryphon at 6:04 PM on August 7, 2016 [1 favorite]

40% drop from Fri to Saturday. For comparison sake, BvS dropped 38%, Man of Steel 17.5%, Guardians 19%, Green Lantern 22%, Winter Soldier 6%, Ant-Man 14%.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 6:12 PM on August 7, 2016

Really? Worse than Catwoman?

Worse than Daredevil?
Yes, definitely.

No (but I'd argue that Electra is the worst "superhero" movie of all time, so we're clearing a very low bar here).

Yes, by a lot.

Green Lantern?
Absolutely. And, to be clear, I'm not harboring any revolutionary opinions about any of these films being secretly great; I do not think that a single one of the movies mentioned so far is worth spending the time to see.

Seriously? I really don't understand the current narrative against DC movies, even when Zack Snyder isn't involved.
There isn't a "narrative". You're using that word to imply some sort of artificial construct masterminded by someone trying to besmirch the good name of these films, when the fact is that there's nothing to besmirch. There are instead two actual-in-reality things happening:

#1 is that yes, Man of Steel and B5S and Suicide Squad are absolutely terribly unwatchably bad. The dialogue is too bad to watch, the action is too bad to watch, most of the performances are too bad to watch, and the plot is too bad to watch. They are not enjoyable or fun or interesting or clever. These are not movies that are even worth seeing for free unless your time has literally no value to you. Obviously there's some degree of opinion here and so you can just say "I disagree", but there is also a degree of objective technical incompetence in these films that is frankly staggering given their budgets. (I think you could argue that a lot of the same flaws appear in The Dark Knight Rises, which is interesting and probably points to some part of DC's film arm as the core of the problem rather than any particular writer or director, especially since these issues are far less present in Batman Begins and The Dark Knight.) People--like everyone involved in the film, for example--are defending the movie saying it's not for critics, but the whole reason you become a critic is that you really love movies. I can agree that it's definitely not a movie for people who love or even like movies, but I really think that the people involved in making it should be a little embarrassed to admit that. Regardless of their status as adaptations, they are just awful movies.

#2 is that, in very clear contrast to the Marvel films, the DC movies are being made by people who don't understand or like the properties they're adapting. There's a joy in the Marvel movies, even the ones with more serious tones, that this recent spate of DC films just does not have. Each of these three movies feels like a death march. There's an interview Snyder gave as B5S was coming out about how it's fine for his Batman to shoot people with a grenade launcher because every incarnation of Batman kills people all the time, and as an example he talks about a particular sequence in the Dark Knight Returns graphic novel where Batman shoots a guy in the head with a machine gun. He's wrong, of course: Batman does in fact fire a single bullet from the machine gun in that sequence, but if you bother to turn the page the very first panel on the next page shows that he has fired the bullet into the wall next to the hostage-taking criminal's head. There is no blood on the wall or anything (and if you're familiar with the book, you know that they certainly wouldn't shy away from an opportunity to show some brain splatter), and there's no hole in the bad guy. Did Snyder seriously see the big BRAKKK sound effect and just completely lose his ability to turn the page, so completely overcome with how AWESOME it was that BATMAN just SHOT A GUY? No, probably what happened is that his assistant just didn't include bother to include a camera phone picture of the next page in the email, because Zack Snyder has never actually touched a Batman comic with his own hands. (We won't even get into the fact that the Joker's final act of hatred toward Batman in the book is killing himself in a way that makes it look like Batman murdered him, because he thinks it's so obvious that the worst thing you can possibly do to Batman is make him a murderer.) Putting aside the viability of "It's fine for me to do it because I saw Frank Miller do it" as a defense, the dude just doesn't know what he's talking about. The Superman adaptation is just as bad: Superman as a cold ruthless completely alien being isn't some fresh new take on a classic character any more than secretly-a-Nazi-the-whole-time Captain America (although obviously that turned out to be magic mind control, because of course it did it's a Marvel comic). It's just lazy and stupid and the result of nobody involved in the creative side of the movie being at all familiar with Superman, because they'd know that that shit has been rehashed all over the place and the fact is that the whole point of Superman is that he is an immigrant to the largest degree possible and that he still stands for everything that's supposed to make America great to the largest degree possible. (The film ALMOST works as an indictment of the national character of Americans through the Bush years into the present, I guess. It's better than any straight reading of the material, anyway.) These are films about established characters written and directed and managed by people who don't know anything about those characters. You could take Batman out of these movies and replace him with the Punisher and the events ring MORE true, not LESS. Regardless of their status as movies, they are just horrendous, insultingly lazy adaptations.

There's no conspiracy. Nobody wanted Suicide Squad to be bad. People love Harley Quinn (although obviously there's a lot of people out there who love her more as masturbation fodder than as a character) and most were probably hoping for a great big-screen debut. It is certainly not the fans or critics or audiences who are at fault for the thing that DC and Warner Bros turned in here. Even so, the studio wins financially, and they don't give a shit what anybody thought about the movie until it starts hurting the bottom line.
posted by IAmUnaware at 11:37 PM on August 7, 2016 [18 favorites]

Amen, IAMUnaware. My 74 year old mother--whose last exposure to Superman was probably the first Christopher Reeve movie--took my nephew to see Man of Steel. Her reaction? "That guy wasn't Superman."
posted by whuppy at 5:16 AM on August 8, 2016 [6 favorites]

7 Ways to Save the DC Cinematic Universe.

I kind of disagree with the "stop being dark" narrative that permeates these discussions, because the problem to me is less darkness than cynicism. It is true that they could stand to film some scenes in daylight, and Superman kind of has to stand in contrast to that, but there's a way to be dark without the adolescent view of what constitutes "grown up" content. Zack Snyder's 50 and appears to still have the worldview of a college kid.

I still contend that a mysterious/weird magic-soaked DC universe kicked off with a Swamp Thing movie and fleshing out the Wonder Woman mythology could let you have your darker tones and still be fun. And people like Supes and the Flash and WW could be a ray of light in all that. But it only will play out well if the creators are not embarrassed by the concept of heroism or bent on proving to the world how not-gay they are. Which means Snyder and Goyer and a good chunk of DC's senior creative staff can't be involved.
posted by middleclasstool at 6:37 AM on August 8, 2016

...they are just horrendous, insultingly lazy adaptations

I honestly don't understand how one gets insulted by these movies.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 6:42 AM on August 8, 2016

It's like if you went and paid forty dollars for dinner and they gave you a banquet frozen dinner, perfectly plated with a high quality garnish. It's arguably edible, but the price tag and trappings make you feel like someone is fucking with you. And it l looks like they actually are - the studio swapped out your entree for something "safer".

I really like Amanda Waller as a character, there were some great visuals on a level of pure computer generated texture, shape, and color, and El Diablo had a good story, but the editing, the special ops military masculinity porn, and formulaic backstory baggage bogged it down.
posted by idiopath at 7:50 AM on August 8, 2016

I was insulted by the the filmmakers inability to film and edit a single scene so that you could tell what was going on. Even the restaurant scene early on was incomprehensible visual and spacially. If you can't shoot and cut something that generic, there's some serious problems. This thing cost $175M to produce so you'd expect some basic visual competency.
posted by octothorpe at 9:49 AM on August 8, 2016 [1 favorite]

Even the restaurant scene early on was incomprehensible visual and spacially.

What was incomprehensible about it? They were in a normally public restaurant that had been secured just for the meeting of three high ranking people. Amanda was the last to enter. They had steak, medium I think.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 10:06 AM on August 8, 2016 [1 favorite]

I honestly don't understand how one gets insulted by these movies.

I think the insult is to the stories and characters they are supposedly adapting.

I used to think it was a problem specifically with Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman, in that everybody has opinions about those characters, whether or not they've ever read a comic book. In contrast to say, Iron Man, which probably wasn't getting notes from studio suits who were convinced they knew what an Iron Man movie should be like.

But with Suicide Squad, it's starting to look like nobody at Warner Brothers thinks DC Comics have anything worthwhile to offer their movie business besides raw intellectual property.
posted by straight at 2:36 PM on August 8, 2016

Eh, at the end of the day, I can agree to disagree. I am weirdly fascinated by the DC films because the uh, two I've seen (BvS and this one- I haven't even watched Man of Steel, so maybe I wasn't prepped to hate) were both deeply flawed, but in different ways. Like Watchmen, BvS had an artful artlessness to it, trying to be poignant but failing, but hey, points for trying. And this one, I would say is in the vein of dumb crummy action films from the '90s, except sadly not as dumb to be a future cult classic*. Nor does it even have really good action scenes, pretty sure everything except for the finale were already spoiled in the trailers. If anything what Suicide Squad has is not good action effects so much as visual effects and style- even before the Oatmeal Tweet, I totally thought the visual palette was something out of the Joel Schumacher Batman films. Or, Mystery Men. And while the Jaroker was certainly garish in acting, I thought the punk style they went for wasn't was as gaudy or bad for the sake edgy as they could have made it. It wasn't even as freaky as say, Mad Max.

(Incidentally, Snyder's films sort of remind me of pretty much ever single Daniel Craig James Bond movie. Over-serious and po-faced, lacking fun and good humor, full of its own self-importance, but with just enough flashes of occasional inspiration to make them more uneven, than straight up all-bad. Not to mention they're all visual feasts. Of course, Suicide Squad is definitely more on the SPECTRE side of uneven than, say, Skyfall. But then, I actually didn't hate SPECTRE, because at least it didn't feel as interminable as Skyfall did, and I'm almost certain the last quarter of it took place in a Brazil-type torture fever dream. If that means that SPECTRE is the end of Daniel Craig James Bond, then well, I'm glad it was made so we can all move on to someone else.)

I do not regret my choice to use my free ticket, and the movie was at least more interesting than the nth reboot of Spider-Man as yet another white boy, or yet another attempt by Sony to turn Wolverine into a standalone cinematic franchise. And my general positive feelings for it aren't too different from the OP's: it has flashes of cool ideas and cool visuals which made it enjoyable, if for nothing but it led me to imagine how a better movie would use them. Does that mean potential sequels? Oh no what have I done

And again, I find it really fascinating that BvS was Wonder Woman's time to shine as the diamond in the manure pile, just as this one was sort of Amanda Waller's (and certainly Margot Robbie did a great job, too**), but again these female performances have been overshadowed by the male-dominated production failure.

* The music was artfully artless. You could see they were trying to make Antpools of the Gotham with this one, so the spliced in a bunch of classic crowdpleasers for the most hamfisted not-reasons whatsoever! The opening scene is set in Louisiana, so of course they play "The House of the Rising Sun." Brilliant.

**Aside from the travesty of a costume for the sake of sexy, Harley didn't seem as fan-servicey as she could be. Though the whole scene where she dances in a cage, Joker offers her to the surprisingly deferential pierced crime lord, and then they kill him when he deigns to accept, that seemed really problematic. Or maybe that's how their insane clown open relationship works, I don't know)
posted by Apocryphon at 9:18 PM on August 8, 2016 [2 favorites]

As far as narrative goes, I don't mean there's some sort of crisis in comic book superhero movie journalism or something goony like that. I just mean that when there's a pop culture almost-truism, i.e. Zack Snyder makes bad films (and he is a Bad, or at least Dumb, Dude), and DC is an enabler of Snyder and so they are debased by him, it makes it easier to write bad opinions about stuff (and DC) he's connected with. And yes, I think Suicide Squad is a bad film. But I also think it could be enjoyable- at least check it out when it ends up on FX or TBS or TNT a couple years from now- and parts of it are salvageable. So the hyperbolic critical response of "this movie is literally the worst" leads to a perception that there's a narrative of some sort. It seems an over-response to what's simply, at worst, a mediocre action film. A narrative doesn't have to be an actual conspiracy. It can just be one of those weird local pop cultural consensuses.
posted by Apocryphon at 9:30 PM on August 8, 2016

One last thing, and another spoiler. Man, how weird and effed up is it that they reimagine one of the characters as a First Nations person, only to kill him off shortly afterward in order to prove a point? Though it was totally telegraphed by him being brought in late and without a backstory flashback.

Wasted potential. Again, in the imaginary world where Suicide Squad took elements like that and did not squander it, he would have been plotting with Captain Boomerang and maybe Killer Croc to break free, and after they defeat Enchantress they try to betray Waller, only for her to further demonstrate how devious/tough/fearless she is by then executing one of them after they inconvenience her. Also that would further reinforce my aforementioned completely tacked-on interpretation of Suicide Squad representing America's cavalier use of force, willingness to entreat with rogue elements, and the consequences of blowback.
posted by Apocryphon at 9:39 PM on August 8, 2016

I saw this last night. It would have been a lot more enjoyable if the actors had more chemistry with each other. So many lines fell flat because it seemed like they were being declaimed to an empty room -- most of the cast seemed vaguely annoyed to be there. The guy who played Flag was particularly terrible; he would fit in great on an episode of NCIS.
posted by sevenyearlurk at 4:39 AM on August 9, 2016

Vox: Suicide Squad shows why Marvel’s movie universe works and DC’s does not

pull quote:
The trio of DC universe films we’ve seen so far have come across like challenges to their source material — and at times have seemed intentionally disrespectful.
posted by 1970s Antihero at 10:49 AM on August 10, 2016

Counter-point: Guardians of the Galaxy. Massively loved and profitable, while introducing us to essentially a whole new corner of the Marvel universe (movie wise). Mostly done without flashbacks (Quill, er Starlord, had a flashback).

It literally took the movie 30 seconds to explain a talking raccoon's personality (who was drunk at the time), while making us deeply care for him and also laugh out loud. That's the best example, but nearly the characters' backgrounds are explained, one or another, without much effort. Groot's background is unknown (movie wise), but that works because he's a total alien.

Suicide Squad is a fantastic concept and by all rights should have been home run for DC. But they just can't get their shit together, even with Superman and Batman, so SS's failure isn't surprising. But that has me worried a bit about Wonder Woman, which they just have to get right. It's so important to demonstrate that a female lead superhero movie can work and they're the first one's out of the gate with one, so fingers crossed.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 12:05 PM on August 10, 2016 [1 favorite]

Apparently I was the only person in the theater who thought it was funny as hell that Amanda Waller had some poor staffer make a "bomb implant" app for her phone. Because of course she did. At what point in that process do you think she had them develop a little "headless person" icon for the people who she's executed? Like was there a round of testing where graying their portrait out just didn't make her feel enough like she'd blown somebody's head off?

It may be the DCU's greatest failure that there is no such app I can upload my colleagues' portraits into, which I could then brandish at them in meetings.
posted by Phobos the Space Potato at 4:24 PM on August 15, 2016 [2 favorites]

I wonder if the tweeter knows that is a 25 year old joke.
posted by 1970s Antihero at 7:53 AM on August 16, 2016

The Ringer: Jared Leto’s Very Big Joke

It's an interesting idea, that Leto's performance was in the para-text rather than the actual text. I doubt the intentionality of it, since The Joker apparently had far more screentime before the final cut.

It does bring up the point that these endless superhero movies are really bad at presenting good villains. Think about the Marvel movies: they've all been leading up to a confrontation with Thanos, but to get there we need a bunch of place-holder villains. Which is really, really boring. It's waiting for a thing that's scheduled to arrive in franchise movie #XX, X years down the road.

Villains are one of my favorite parts of super hero media, which is one of the reasons that Gotham is so great.
posted by codacorolla at 7:56 AM on August 16, 2016

but to get there we need a bunch of place-holder villains.

Is this the part where I say I liked Zemo?
posted by the man of twists and turns at 8:28 AM on August 16, 2016 [1 favorite]

I think the problem with Man of Steel, BvS and now Suicide Squad is that the studios/distributors/producers/etc. are all focused on building a brand they can return to again and again, as opposed to just making a decent stand-alone movie. They're probably all thinking they're 'big picture' people, plotting out how they'll develop a new series they can feed off for years, instead of focusing on the here & now by making a single movie with a coherent plot. The problem with that is, if a movie drives people away from the theaters, any proposed series that builds on it is also going to be avoided.

Look at The Godfather: a fantastic movie in and of itself. They hadn't planned any sequels, they just made a great movie. But since it did so well, they made Godfather 2, which did well if not as well as the original. Then they pushed their luck and made Godfather 3, which wasn't bad but certainly wasn't anywhere near the first. But the point is: they didn't preplan the sequels while they were still planning/making The Godfather, they just made an excellent movie.
posted by easily confused at 9:48 AM on August 21, 2016

I wonder if the tweeter knows that is a 25 year old joke.

Suicide Squid, Suicide Squid
Does whatever a squid...did
Can he swing from a noose?
Take a look, cooked his goose.
posted by straight at 2:42 PM on August 23, 2016 [2 favorites]

The sarcastic-sounding title aside, A.V. Club's "Is there anything to like about Suicide Squad?" articulated why I found it compelling despite its many, many flaws: it looked cool with a sense of "texture" and a distinct visual style, unlike most of the Marvel flicks. And yeah, the idea about how it seemed to have been made for trailers and resembled comic variant covers was also on point. It was vivid imagery and flashy montages and snappy lines in search of an actual movie.
posted by Apocryphon at 1:16 AM on August 24, 2016 [1 favorite]

It's impressive how much better A.V. Club's Vishnevetsky is in front of the camera than when he was on Ebert's last show when he seemed so awkward.
posted by octothorpe at 5:35 AM on August 24, 2016

it looked cool with a sense of "texture" and a distinct visual style, unlike most of the Marvel flicks

Perhaps, but the reviewers love of that and seeming diss of Marvel visuals had me gobsmacked. Did he see the airport battle in Civil War, that was spectacular and raised the bar, while SS's set pieces did absolutely nothing.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 7:33 AM on August 24, 2016

I think that he was talking about the static visual artistic direction rather than the action direction. The action scenes in SS were pathetic but there is an argument that the art direction was at least more interesting than any of the MCU films. I'm personally not much of a fan of how SS looked but it was at least not as boring looking as any of the Marvel films. I'll agree that the airport scene in Civil War was well staged but it as with all those movies, it didn't look like much.
posted by octothorpe at 8:00 AM on August 24, 2016 [2 favorites]

Yeah, the fight scenes in Suicide Squad were murky and mostly consisted of the characters fighting the Putty Patrol from Power Rangers, but the visual style of the costuming was what stood out.
posted by Apocryphon at 9:18 AM on August 24, 2016

I did not like this movie. A personal low point, realizing tha even if you are a god/superhuman entity buliding a weapon capable of cutting aircraft carriers in half, you still have to wiggle your butt while you're doing it.
posted by Dr Dracator at 2:54 PM on September 10, 2016 [1 favorite]

I liked it. It desperately wanted to be Gaurdians of the Galaxy and Deadpool which it failed in doing, but definitely helped overall. I would agree it was much better than a lot of other superhero movies. I kind of feel like Will Smith had a part in ruining this movie. He's a big name actor and he had more than his share of the story shifted to his character. A character that traditionally is not a good guy, but apparently the audience was supposed to get on board with that. I would've liked to have seen Catman, and could've done without boomerang dude and rope guy. Didn't notice any butt wiggling, but then again I wasn't looking for it.
posted by P.o.B. at 9:10 AM on September 24, 2016

I was just reminded of this - it seemed like maybe there was a "sitting on a washing machine during the spin cycle" joke in Quinn's domestic fantasy that got edited out? I'm fully willing to accept this is just an artifact of my own lust-addled mind.
posted by idiopath at 11:52 AM on September 27, 2016

Surely all these complaints about Harley Quinn would've been avoided if they just put her in that good ol' skintight jester outfit.
posted by P.o.B. at 8:48 PM on September 28, 2016

Nice (long) breakdown of the bad editing in the movie.
posted by octothorpe at 4:32 AM on January 9, 2017 [6 favorites]

That is very relevant since Imjust rented this and was really put out by the editing. It looked like someone taking an existing good movie and an existing terrible movie and making a whole different mediocre movie out of it.
posted by Elementary Penguin at 1:48 AM on January 10, 2017

I finally got a chance to watch this, and that was really good. Not just as a critique, but as a primer on evaluating movie editing and structure. Plus the cough syrup gag made me chuckle.
posted by middleclasstool at 6:04 PM on January 12, 2017

I attempted to watch this today but didn't make it through to the end. It left me with one nagging question, which I think sums up - to me, anyway - just how disjointed and bad this movie is.

The Suicide Squad is being flown into the city via helicopter. They're sitting and chatting, looking out the window, etc. Suddenly shots are fired, the helicopter goes down, but everyone walks out unscathed.

Who fired those shots? I watched maybe 15 more minutes of the movie and it was never brought up. Did the director just say, "okay whoops it's been too long between actions, time for more actions, let's wreck a helicopter"?
posted by komara at 10:25 PM on February 17, 2017

Finally got around to watching this, in part because WW84 is days away and that fact reminded me that a) I've had access to HBOwhateverthey'recallingitthisweek since halfway through GoT, and b) I'd been waiting for SuSqu to hit one of the streaming services that I already subscribe to. So.

And yeah, it's not great, and not anywhere near as good as either of the Guardians of the Galaxy movies, to the first one of which this got compared to, a lot. It does have its moments; the less fanservicey Harley Quinn bits are great, even if she obviously seems on her way to a better film (i.e. this one). Will Smith occasionally remembers that he's Will Smith. I honestly can't think of anyone I'd rather have play Amanda Waller than Viola Davis. Diablo's story is genuinely tragic and he just worked as the character whenever he was in the shot. (I don't think that I've seen Jay Hernandez in anything else, and his next appearance is in... the Magnum PI reboot? Huh.) Others have their moments, and the bar scene late in the film helped redeem a lot of the slipshod character development.

But otherwise, it's not much of a much, Escape from New York crossed with Ghostbusters with occasional superpowers. (The Ghostbusters larceny was especially egregious at the end, when Flag peels the witch/evil goddess/whatever-the-fuck-the-offbrand-Zuul-was-supposed-to-be off of June.) I'd already pegged Jared Leto as someone who seemed to take all the wrong lessons from winning an Oscar, and this just confirmed it; he was so far outclassed by Robbie in every scene that they had together that I believe that I literally winced. And, in general, the movie felt bound to use up grimdark by the barrel. The comparisons to GotG ignore how deft that movie was; the giddy silliness of Peter Quill challenging a genocidal madman equipped with one of the Infinity Stones to a dance-off because he can't think of anything else to do to stall for time is still a lot more amazing than anything we see here. Needless to say, I'm very much looking forward to seeing what James Gunn does with the same premise and some of the same characters.

One more thing: speaking of things that have changed since this came out, the exec producer on the film is... Steven Mnuchin. Huh.
posted by Halloween Jack at 12:30 PM on December 20, 2020

i appreciate the some dramaturgy went into the prison landscape.

the prison is in the middle of the Texaco canals, a wetland area that has been absolutely pulverized by Chevron. Billions of dollars have been pulled out of the ground there, and Chevron never repaired the land according to the law. you can see a wetland restoration project that EPA has spent millions on, and it takes up a fraction of the screen. it;s the former Chevron HQ, and it's written as a black site on american soil. I dunno, that was a choice.
posted by eustatic at 11:26 PM on August 7, 2021 [1 favorite]

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