Arts movie review

Neon doesn't disguise the shabby spectacle of Suicide Squad

DC manages to disappoint in its most anticipated film of the year

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Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie) gazes at the Joker (Jared Leto) in Suicide Squad
Warner Bros. Pictures


Suicide Squad

Directed by David Ayer

Starring Will Smith, Jared Leto, Margot Robbie, Joel Kinnaman, Viola Davis

Rated PG-13

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"How low of a rating is this going to get on Rotten Tomatoes?"

For the last anticlimactic half hour of DC's new superhero debacle Suicide Squad, I was decreasing my guess on every line of dialogue. By the time the multicolored barrage ended, I estimated 20% positive reviews (critics ended up giving the film 26%). I had long since ceased to have fun. I was in the death throes of disappointment, dread, and dreariness — disappointment that a backstory and cast with such potential was wasted, dread of the next bit of limp-dick cringe-worthy dialogue, and dreariness of the paper-thin swiss-cheese plot.

Wait, was there a point to this film? Oh — Amanda Waller (Viola Davis) is a steely woman who assembles a team of criminals with special abilities to work for the government against their will. Among the band of villains is Deadshot (Will Smith), the infamous hitman who never misses, and Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie), a psychotic former psychiatrist who's devoted to her lover, the Joker (Jared Leto).

The film is promising at the outset — the backstories of each character are intriguing, the actors are killing it. Smith proves himself a natural at playing his cynical, charismatic mercenary, and he's by far the best in his role. Viola Davis is also just as intimidating and ballsy as we expected. She convinces us that she can control her motley collection of criminals and that the movie is on the right track.

But after the antagonists are revealed (to the audience's confusion, more than suspense or alarm) and the Suicide Squad is hauled into action, the film quickly devolves into nonsensical neon rubbish heaped onto a dull cookie-cutter plot. I thought that the all-star cast and some self-deprecating humor would keep the junk afloat, but the dialogue was so far from witty and interesting that even the diehard fans in denial could only manage strained chuckles at times.

And the editing. My god. It's as if they had far too much footage and a room full of people squabbling over how to stitch the pieces together. The end result is sloppy and incoherent, with no scenes having as much impact as they're meant to, adding to the confusion.

Jared Leto's appearance as the Joker has also been much maligned. Fans thought Leto would have a significant role and that his acclaimed acting would be a major draw, but Leto is poorly utilized, delegated to a few scenes and a weakly-developed caricature of the beloved villain.

As the plot holes accumulate like mole hills in a weed-filled, neglected backyard, the film becomes more painful to watch. Without character consistency or a coherent plot, the Squad trudges to the end, dragging the audience shackled, bruised, and mutilated, with them.

There's no joy in Suicide Squad. There's only the loss of hope and a feeling of emptiness, regret, and filth like the one that follows a greasy Chinese buffet. You were drawn inside by the bright neon signs to feed, but the meal leaves you wondering whether you have any sense of self-respect.