I saw Suicide Squad the other day, putting me quite in the same situation that I was when I left the theater after X-Men Apocalypse. Too late to do a full review, and, honestly, left with not enough to say that would actually fill one. So today, I’m going to be talking about one specific thing that I thought was worth talking about. Namely, why everyone should stop yelling about Suicide Squad.
On the internet recently, I’ve seen the notorious circle-jerk at work, spilling hate and bile at Suicide Squad all over every opinion page that thinks itself to be even slightly reputable. (kinda like me.) The movie is currently sitting on a whopping 27% on Rotten Tomatoes, which I find to be a usually good website to go to. I might be rethinking my stance on it, and it’s impact on the film industry and how people view movies and criticism in general, but the point is that myself and Rotten Tomatoes usually agree.
However, Suicide Squad does not deserve most of the bashing that it’s getting. I mean, it’s certainly not good, but it’s not terrible either. It’s got a lot of stupid moments, most are moments that were supposed to be cool, but fell apart due partly to directorial misfires or simply the movie that they’re attached to. About 80% of the team are astoundingly under characterized, as if the screenwriter was forced to tweet their bios to the studio, and the whole plot is surprisingly uneventful, which isn’t helped by the meandering direction, which flips back and forth between the Enchantress gyrating a poorly defined deus ex machina into existence with the help of a green and purple light show (“look, we grudgingly added color for a few moments here and there!”), and the Joker just kind of… wandering… in and out.
But Will Smith as Deadshot gives a characteristically charismatic performance, which I assume was not written that way because it seems to sort of make him accidentally the main character. And even though I didn’t quite care for Harley Quinn or her narrative treatment, Margot Robbie shined through the script, obviously putting a lot of work into her performance. Occasionally, I chuckled slightly. Diablo was really great.
My point is that this movie is really nothing to write home about. Stop panicking, stop yelling! The bad outweighs the good, sure. And is the bad bad? Yeah! But it’s not horrible. I can’t believe I’m saying this, but the Suicide Squad that we all saw in theaters was obviously a product of studio meddling, and not the finished product that the screenwriters obviously worked hard to bring to life.
If you look into the development of the movie, it was obviously made with care and effort. But near the end, after the one-two punch of Batman v Superman failure and Deadpool‘s success, DC and Warner Bros. changed their Green Lantern proclamation (people hate jokes) into the new Dawn of Justice protocol (people want more jokes). But since Suicide Squad was nearly finished, all they could do was re-cut and re-shoot. So we end up with a movie where the Joker ends up as a sort of glorified interlude, and with the dialogue trapped in some odd middle ground between “Oh, I’m not gonna kill you… I’m just gonna hurt you really, really bad.” and “Ames, If this man shoots me, I want you to kill him and I want you to go clear my browser history.”
I understand why isn’t not very good. It had so many things to do already before the men upstairs turned on it and asked for a complete tone change of the entire franchise! Excluding the more recent Fantastic Four film, this is the most glaring example of how studio intervention can completely ruin what could have been a good movie, or, at least left it alone to be less bad than the final product would be.
So, yeah. Suicide Squad is not a very good movie. But it’s not a horrible one, either. To be honest, Suicide Squad is perfectly harmless. Nothing in it should really upset someone, nor is it so poorly made that it needs to be slammed into the dirt by the entire internet. It’s just trapped in a disappointingly subpar middle ground, with some reasons why outside of it’s control.
Everyone needs to get off of it’s back, and try to learn from it. Maybe see some, just a little bit, of the good that’s locked deep inside of it’s mistakes. And if we all take a step back and look at Suicide Squad more intelligently, instead of just bashing it because everyone else is doing so, we might be able to stop this from happening again.