If you remember, “The Bad News Bears” ends with the opposing team—having won the game—commending the Bears on their moxie and offering an apology for having mocked them earlier. They then gather around in a circle and chant their appreciation for the Bears—a true display of good gamesmanship. The Bears’ reply? “Take your apology and shove it up your ass,” followed by one kid using his second-place trophy as a projectile weapon. That’s a movie that stays true to its characters.
“Suicide Squad” features a cast of heinous, murderous, thieving and otherwise unsavory super-villains, destined to learn the power of friendship. This dirty half-dozen are brought together by Amanda Waller (Viola Davis), a follower of the “means justify the ends” philosophy, and, some might say, just as wicked as the rest of them. The squad is made up of Deadshot (Will Smith), Harley Quinn (Margo Robbie), Diablo (Jay Hernandez), Rick Flagg (Joel Kinnaman) and a few others who don’t matter. Their mission, should they choose to accept it—the tiny bombs planted in their heads suggest they do—is to utilize their unique skill-sets against others with unique skill-sets. If they die, who cares: they’re bad guys. If they screw up, Waller throws them under the bus—I imagine she’ll want to drive. If they save the day, nobody knows it was them.
If Andy Warhol ate an encyclopedia and threw it up, it would look a lot like the beginning of “Suicide Squad.” It’s an overload of poorly edited information—at one point, a flashback has a flashback, and then cuts to something else entirely. Not one, not two, but three pop songs play back to back in a span of maybe five or 10 minutes. And all of it is stuck together by old, multicolored gum. It’s as if the movie is so intent on making a great first impression, it stammers and stutters until the second act drags it away with a vaudeville hook.
Beyond the beginning, the editing is a major thorn in the movie’s side. It attempts to tie a multitude of story threads together with style, but ends up with a narrative noose. Likewise, the comic timing is several beats off, which is a shame, since Robbie has some great lines as Quinn, but they’re followed by two or three seconds of awkward silence. Some of the awkward silence is warranted, however, such as with Captain Boomerang—the funniest thing about him is his name and a fun fact in his dossier.
Returning to my “Bad News Bears” analogy, these psychopaths and killers inexplicably put each other above their own interest, despite having no real connection throughout the course of the film. There’s even a point where all Deadshot has to do is kill Quinn and he gets his daughter back, but he doesn’t do it. He chooses Quinn—who he’s known for a day and traded a few quips with—over his own family. Both Quinn and Boomerang also have moments where they seemingly make a decision that fits a scoundrel, but then take the high road.
For a film starring a cast of subversive, freak show headliners, “Suicide Squad” is surprisingly ordinary. Hordes of faceless, bloodless baddies are torn apart flippantly; the climax of villainy is a giant energy beam piercing the sky; the final battle is against a CGI creation that serves no purpose until it’s time for fisticuffs. For those expecting a gutting of the superhero genre, in the vein of “Deadpool” or this film’s marketing campaign, fly your freak flags at half-mast.
3.5 out of 5 stars