I have had five lectures on script writing, film and cinematography as part of my creative writing course. I’m here now to do movie reviews like I know what the hell I’m talking about. Enjoy.
I want to start this review by saying that I absolutely loved Suicide Squad, and I am confident enough in my good taste not to feel the need to defend this statement. I loved Suicide Squad. This review will be split in two parts: Reasons why the movie was awful and Reasons why I enjoyed the movie (some of them overlap, actually).
So therefore, let me present all the reasons why Suicide Squad absolutely sucked in no particular order.
- The Plot
I won’t lie, I know four lectures on script writing and cinematography a movie expert do not make, but from a strictly textual perspective, SuSq had absolutely no plot. It was, at the best of times (and at the worst of times) weak and flimsy and generally just terrible. It served the purpose of bringing all the characters together, and giving them a common purpose, but overall it was just Bad. Of course, unlike the Avengers, it lacked five movies of exposition, but nah. As far as plots go, this one was (as we say in Bulgaria) sewn together with white string (that means bad).
However, as some people say, good actors can and will carry a weak plot. And boy, did they! I can’t not gush about how brilliant Will Smith was as Deadshot – absolutely marvelous. Margot Robbie as Harley Quinn literaly blew me away and I’m still recovering – her performance in a limited and overly sexualized role affected me so much I’m considering tatooing Damaged on my forehead in serif italics like so: DAMAGED. This brings me on to my second point:
- What is up with Harley Quinn?????
If you’ve opened a DC comic book once in your life (not a pre-requisite for enjoying the movie, btw) you’d know that Harley and the Joker’s relationship is VIOLENTLY ABUSIVE. Actually, if you’ve been on the Internet even once in anticipation of SuSq you’d know this. And for those people who somehow missed the memo – The Joker Abuses Harley. He beats her, manipulates her, assaults her, insults her, constantly, hurts her, and treats her like shit. This is NOT a love story. Harley Quinn is an abuse victim. In most recent comic book canon she has broken away from him, and is currently involved with Poison Ivy (be still my beating heart!).
That having been said, we (the fans) were promised a movie that portrays Joker’s abuse of Harley. We did not get this. Apparently the scenes where he lays hands on her didn’t test well with audiences – big shocker – can you believe the general public doesn’t want to see a realistic view of a woman being hurt by her significant other, when they can just as easily ignore that anything is wrong and romanticize a relationship that is, fundamentally, founded on violence? I mean, we can’t even, as a society, pull together enough to recognize that toxicity of real life abusive relationships, let alone ones we see in fiction.
I love the Joker as passionately as any twelve year old boy with a hot topic obsession, but the way SuSq showed his relationship with Harley was a BIG no for me.
In fact, SuSq did Harley dirty in many aspects. She was eye candy with a sad backstory (kind of like El Diablo, but minus the tired racial sterotypes). From oversexualizing her to the point of being actually uncomfortable (and that’s hard to do in contemporary Hollywood films because EVERYTHING is oversexualized), and downplaying her trauma (and using it to – make the Joker seem romantic?), the movie betrayed all expectations on the Harley front. I’ll go as far as to say that Harley in SuSq was just a continuation of Margot’s character in The Wolf of Wallstreet (and like, not in a good way. At all). It was unfortunate. Hyperfocus on her body, and her ~quirky~ one-liners took away from what could potentially have been a very strong portrayal of a female character with a lot of agency.
Overall my verdict on Harley was: very pretty, lots of fun, I squealed every time she was on screen, but if you spend even a second thinking a bit deeper about her, you will get sad and upset. Enjoy her character at face value.
But SuSq betrayed all its female characters. So:
- Female characters what now??
Karen Fukuhura is an angel – she is literally an angel. She did the best she could with little screentime, and a poorly strung together presentation. I loved her – or rather, I would have loved her, if I knew what the hell is up with her character. I’ll admit, I am a fake geek girl – I know maybe 5 things about DC comics. I didn’t know anything about Katana before seeing Suicide Squad, and I definitely didn’t know much more about her after I saw it. I thought her look was pretty sweet, I thought she was super badass, I just wish I knew how did she get involved with the Suicide Squad project and how her (tragic) backstory ties her in to the rest of the characters. Just, you know, things and stuff. Another plot hole that sadly remains unfilled. I liked that she spoke Japanese instead of thickly accented English, and that most people on the squad understood her/didn’t make a fuss about it – I thought it was a nice touch. And her fight scenes were pretty cool too. Just really wish we knew more about her.
Enchantress/June Moon was a big ????? for me. I get it, we need the possession storyline so Cara can realistically play a South American (?) lady, but that also took away from both characters. In fact, the entire Enchantress storyline (the plot line meant to carry the movie – and failing spectacularly at it) was so tired, weak and overly unpleasant I prefer to pretend it wasn’t there. Literally. So wait, June touched an ancient artifact, brought a thousands of years old witch into our world, and the witch decided to wipe away humanity because she is no longer worshipped as a god, and she brought the spirit of her witch brother to help her do it, but her heart isn’t in her body (??) and she must reclaim it to reclaim her full power and THEN she can wipe away humanity and um – reign supreme over a desolate planet, I guess? Ok. And so Annalise Keating decided “Hey, you know what sounds like a totally great idea that literally can’t go wrong? We’re gonna take this witch, who is overpowered as all hell, and try to control her, using her heart (which will give her her full power back if she reclaims it) and we hope if her vessel body does the sexytimes with a good looking military man that will be enough to reign her in. Brilliant, this cannot go wrong!” (This is why you’re being investigated for like 75 murders on HTGAWM, ANALISE!!!!!!!!)
Um. Can y’all tell how I feel about this plotline? Listen, Anne Rice already did this in Queen of the Damned, okay? That movie EXISTS (kind of). This movie exists right down to the hypnotic ~exotic~ arm-wavy dancing in front of a big glowy thing. Trust. It was a moderately okay movie. It also involved a lot of leather and Hot Topic. Lestat in it was a better Joker than the Joker here.
So yes. I’m pulling the plug on the Enchantress storyline. It didn’t happen. Cara Delevigne was gorgeous though. She did her best.
HOWEVER, I really loved Viola Davis – playing a tough as nails woman in power suits her. I keep calling her character Annalise, but the truth is, Amanda Woller is badass on a whole other level. I don’t even care that we didn’t get the backstory on this lady, I just wanted MORE of her. Seriously. She was brilliant. More, more, more.
- THE JOKER
HOLY SHIT, STRAP IN, if you thought my review so far was pretty negative, just wait until I say my piece about the Joker.
First let me say, that I do NOT support Jared Leto in any way shape or form. I think he is a transphobe and a rapist, and a generally subpar actor, with a bad work ethic, who is unprofessional and straight up harassed his colleagues. The only reason I paid money for the movie is because I wanted to support all the POC in it.
Secondly, I am a BIG Joker fan. Largely what got me into fandom (tumblr) was seeing The Dark Knight and loving the Joker so much.
That having been said, for all the hype, could he have possibly been any more bland and disappointing as the Joker??????????? Nah, I don’t think so, but it’s obvious he tried. I’ll try to break this down in order but tbh it all overlaps a lot.
4.1. The Look
Ok, I’m a basic bitch, I actually liked the look, sue me. But it just wasn’t – it wasn’t J, sorry it wasn’t. With his slicked back evenly touched up at the roots hair and artfully smudged Ruby Woo MAC lipstick, and his spotless gloves and pimp cane don’t get me wrong, he looked COOL, he just didn’t look RIGHT. He looked like a fashionization of the Joker (if anyone has seen the fashionization art Kevin Wada has done for Marvel), not the real deal. The tattoos were a neat touch, but again – Not The Joker. He was like a sullen dead-eyed male model off the runway of any ~edgy~ new fashion line. The Joker is supposed to be the living embodiment of Chaotic Evil, he doesn’t have time to do the Jefree Star and Nikkie Tutorials make up challenges what are you DOING??
I want the costume department to come talk to me. I swear I just wanna talk. fight me
And his living space? What. Was. That. What???? MY ROOM IS MESSIER THAN THAT AND I AM NEUTRAL EVIL AT BEST. The neat writing on the wall looks as intentional and well-done as Luna Lovegood’s pretty artistic renditions of her friends, the arranged assortment of knives and guns, while very very pretty and intimidating, is 1) impractical 2) not the Joker at all – I mean, just assuming that he has the attention span to put all his weaponry in plain sight like this for purposes other than cleaning it/preparing to maim somebody –why would he? Ok maybe he doesn’t need a reason, he’s the Joker, let me rephrase – why would the Joker feel the need to arrange all his weaponry like this to um – indicate –his grief (?) for Harley, when he barely gives two shits about her?
Has whoever made the room arrangements watched too much of Phantom of the Opera in designing this more Spartan version of the Phantom’s haunt? Has Jared read too much 2010 Joker/OC fanfic off the Internet?
4.2. The Manner/Voice
Coughing purring and growling like a prepubescent boy was as poorly thought-out as every other aspect of this Joker. Being touchy-feely without actively causing grave physical injury – even more so. This Joker was a the lovechild of Heath Ledger’s Joker and Tiago Silva in Skyfall. A lovechild that was then tossed to the wolves, and somehow emerged a slick, twisted, but not the least bit terrifying, impressive, or intimidating character, ready for the A/W runway of a lesser known designer in Sofia Fashion Week.
There was none of the disjointed movement we grew used to with Ledger (who to me is the ULTIMATE Joker, because as I said I am basic), or which characterizes the one in the animated series, and none of the barely contained danger in Jack Nicholson (who is the ULTIMATE Joker, comic-wise).
Ok, I’ll admit seeing him kinda sorta give a shit about Harley was nice in the same way in which Christian Grey obsessively chasing Anna in 50 shades is nice- aka, not at all. I’m sure any fifty-something mom who took her sullen teenage son to see the movie thought it was nice, and maybe even shed a tear with Harley when we all thought he was (blissfully) dead and we wouldn’t have to suffer through another minute of this poorly executed rendition of a beloved villain (I shed a tear of happiness), but. But.
Like, I said before, HE BEATS HER, JANET. Yeah, I will keep coming back to this. I don’t care that the physical abuse wasn’t in the movie – there was plenty of evidence of the toxicty of this relationship that I’m sure girls who don’t know better will interpret as romantic. The Chemical Wedding was visually stunning, but also, originally, he shoves her in the containers. AND he was going to just LEAVE HER THERE. That’s not nice.
He does physically damagae her – what shooting electricity up someone’s skull isn’t considered abuse anymore, or?
He offers her to one of his um – business ? associates? – yeah, that’s just an excuse to fuck the guy’s shit up, but he treats her like a commodity (the MOVIE treats her like a commodity, we talked about this). She’s just property to him. He’s not trying to get her back because he misses her – he just wants all his stuff to be in one place – another sharp shiny thing in his collection of knives. And if you think the Joker doesn’t think of Harley like this – as a pretty shiny object that he can use and discard as he pleases, you are NOT paying attention.
(Unrelated, but Harley screaming “I can’t swim!” and him crashing the car in the water anyway – just nah.)
4.4. The Entirety of the Joker altogether:
It was just bad. It was just. Just Bad.
“But Jared didn’t have a lot of screentime!” I’m sorry but if you’re playing the Joker, even if you have all of 5 seconds in the movie, you should be able to leave a lasting impression. BATMAN left a more lasting impression, and he was actually in the movie for only 5 seconds. Batman. Can you believe this?
That having been said, I actually enjoyed the Joker, the way someone on a diet enjoys a greasy McDonalds burger. It was bad, unsatisfying, and definitely not as good as advertised (+ my absolute loathing hate of Leto colored every second of the movie experience), but I also kinda liked it, and I don’t like that I liked it. It was bad, fam.
- The movie was pretty racist.
The movie was a lot racist.
First nations representation had all of 3 seconds of screentime (still more memorable than the Joker) and got killed? Are you kidding me? What, we couldn’t have killed off the creepy Australian? It HAD to be the actor of color? Really?
5.2. El Diablo
A lot of very bad ethnic sterotypes went into this one. A lot. I don’t have to point them out, he was written like a Trump campaign ad. We need a wall to keep fire weileding drug lords out of our country. I’m sure it could have been handled better.
I already talked about her, and I loved her but still – a lot of her portryal relied on racial stereotypes and she got pretty much no development, no matter how badass she was.
The possession thing – don’t tell me we couldn’t have found a South African actress to get possessed instead of Cara, whom I love, but I still need to say it.
5.5. Oh, you know what I’m sure there’s more than what I picked up on, but I’m white and really what I’m pointing out here is stuff people have already pointed out. It just bears repeating.
Now let’s mention some things I actively enjoyed:
He came on screen and I said “Daddy!” (ok i didn’t, but I thought it). Handsome, clever, quick, and funny and generally a lot better developed than the other characters, he was BRILLIANT, his chemistry with the squad was incredible, and he single handedly redeemed the whole movie. Just thinking about how good he was now makes me want to delete all the bad things I’ve said so far.
And his backstory? Aw! Who doesn’t love a guy who loves his kids?
AND his chemistry with Harley specifically was so nice and refreshing after the dead-eyed tired performance of ~romance~ they tried to shove down our throats with her and Joker.
- The creepy australian
While I still maintain I’d have liked him to get killed off over Slipknot, I found him kinda funny, and not bad to look at. That I don’t remember his character’s name speaks more about the movie and his role in it than me being a fake geek girl. Edit: his name is Captain Boomerang. Lame.
- El Diablo
Yes, he was written full of poorly handled racist tropes, and bless the actor for doing his best with what was given to him – he was actually a great character? I genuinely enjoyed him. Sad eyed, tattooed and genuinely remorseful? Also the Guy with the Coolest Powers in the Whole Damn Film? Yeah, I loved him.
And that line about not losing another family? Are you kidding? I may have teared up a bit. He was so good. I wanted more of him. Like, a lot more.
Yeah, so, after complaining about Harley was handled, I can also point out that Margot Robbie’s performance was some next level shit. Good actors carrying a bad plot – she did that. Boy, did she ever do that! Even though her character was written as a purry sex kitten (Hollywood is doing her a gross injustice by typecasting her like this), she managed to bring some dimension, and work with the unfavorable one-liners and skimpy outfit to bring Harley to life as more than a two-dimensional crazy ex-girlfriend. Plus, acting like you’re in love with/attracted to Jared Leto – wow. Where’s her Oscar already?
- The Joker
Yes, it was bad. Yes, I enjoyed it. This is an indefensible statement. Where do I turn in my Joker Fan badge?
- Killer Croc
He was cool.
- Viola Davis as Amanda Woller (aka a more badass Annalise)
She kicked ass. She kicked ass, and I loved it. I want her to kick MY ass next. She was amazing. Aside from her poorly executed plan to control a magical entity with the powers of a god, I mean. Brilliant.
Overall, I give the movie a 7/10, I loved it, I’m definitely seeing again soon (actually by the time this review goes up I might have seen it again already). It was bad, but sometimes you just need to see some bad cinema and let yourself enjoy it. It can’t all be conceptual European cinema all day every day. Sometimes you just need to see a hot blonde lady in shorty shorts beat the shit out of some mud monsters with a baseball bat. Who else is crazy excited for the Harley Quinn solo?