Movie Coroners: Suicide Squad

For the Deadshirt staff, it’s not enough that a movie is bad: We have to figure out WHY it’s bad. When a new release with potential fails to hit the mark or a film just plain sucks, we bring in… The Movie Coroners.

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The Movie: Suicide Squad

Director: David Ayer

Starring: Will Smith, Viola Davis, Margot Robbie, Scott Eastwood (?), a witch

Performing the Post-Mortem:

Max Robinson, Andrew Neimann, Patrick Stinson, and Mike Fiorilla

This is the most terribly edited movie of 2016

Max: The first half hour of Suicide Squad is really…disconcerting, to me? Not necessarily because of the content or tone but because the movie spends like 20 minutes introducing the same three cast members over and over?

Andrew: I think I’m the only one here who enjoyed the movie overall, but after seeing it twice, it’s hard to deny this thing isn’t just a 2-hour trailer for the actual Suicide Squad film that wasn’t ready yet. It’s the cinematic equivalent of taking Adderall the night before to finish a big presentation and then dropping acid right before that.

Patrick: It feels like the film was rather brutally re-edited into chronological order from what should have been a mission-in-progress in the first act, followed by trickled out reveals. This would have obscured the fact that the Waller-Flagg-Enchantress storyline makes Waller into a damn fool. Excising all the business in this plot up front and slightly extending the flashback that we do get in Act 3 would have let the audience fill in the blanks.

Fio: The editing choices were pretty terrible, and at times the direction was almost equally baffling. Our big hero moment for Deadshot (after he’s introduced no fewer than three times) is of Will Smith standing on a car waving his arms about. There’s nothing intrinsically wrong with that arrangement, it just seems like the least-dynamic way that scene could be organized. A non-chronological structure could have really brought some energy back to this flick, especially because once we got past the tedium of the introductions, I was pretty into it.

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Which members of the Suicide Squad have actual arcs?

Max: Your movie has a pretty big problem when the conflict between your villain (Enchantress), presumed lead (Rick Flagg) and romantic lead (June Monroe) is set up as kind of a tossed-off aside (in Amanda Waller’s steak-chewing exposition).

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Andrew: The movie really can’t decide who its main character is. Deadshot is a prime candidate, but he never really learns or loses anything. Harley is the next choice, but again, her arc is never really resolved because the film can’t figure out if she’s empowering or meant to be ogled at. I guess the answer is El Diablo, since I felt for him the most out of all of them.

Fio: Diablo has an arc, but it’s less of a pleasing curve and more of a sharply drawn parabola. Again, restructuring the plot a bit so that the flashbacks to his history and everything could be interspersed a little more evenly throughout the film probably would have been beneficial. It could be argued that Flagg has an arc; he has his breakdown in the third act (which is out-and-out a mess) and deactivates the Squad’s nano explosives and everything, but at the end we see him working as Deadshot’s handler (presumably) still beneath Waller.

Hey, why is the Joker in the movie?

Max: As much as Jared Leto sucks as a person, his Joker performance was pretty good. The problem was he didn’t have any reason to be in Suicide Squad? The seams here are obvious to the point that, aside from Harley and one line of dialogue from Waller, no one appears to even acknowledge the Joker exists in the film. What hath Warner Brothers marketing wrought?

Andrew: I can’t decide if this film needs fewer Joker scenes or more. On the one hand, cuck fetish mobster trash Joker is an interesting choice, but on the other, I feel as if the obviously cut scenes rob Joker of his teeth just a little bit? Joker seems less demented and more romantic but, since I grow tired of Joker always being a chaotic hell demon, I didn’t mind tender-loving Joker who spends ⅛ of the film chasing after Harley and the rest in flashbacks.

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Patrick: Instead of being a plot wrecking ball as the trailer implied, the Joker is a weak secondary protagonist. Presenting the Joker as the US equivalent of a Mexican drug lord was inspired. Giving him some level of real passion for Harley had potential. Presenting their abusive-ass relationship as a full-on star-crossed lover story, a la Twilight, was ethically inexcusable. On top of that, it forces Margot Robbie’s standout character into stasis.

Fio: Joker’s story in this film is less of an individual plotline and more of an unsightly boil on Harley Quinn’s. The most egregious aspect of this is that nothing he does has any sort of impact on the rest of the story. You could remove him from this story completely, and the only plot hole you’d need to answer for is why Harley is waiting for them out in the street after Waller’s helicopter leaves instead of being back on top of the building. I’m not about to delve into one of those breathless foaming internet screeds about what makes a good Joker performance, but I will say that all Leto’s try-hard Joker left me feeling is embarrassed for him.

Trash portal? Trash portal

Max: I keep thinking about how much better this movie would have been if it didn’t have to revolve around our (anti-)heroes trying to shut down a big magic laser that’s opened a sky portal. At the risk of Monday morning quarterbacking, why wasn’t this just a movie where the Suicide Squad fights super-powered terrorists or has to rescue the president?

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Andrew: A big mistake with this film is that the entire thing feels like a third act climax where time is wasted trying to get to the fireworks factory. When they finally arrive it’s…Cara Delevingne gyrating erotically, with her brother LEGO Galactus just kind of hanging around. It probably wouldn’t be a big deal if 2016 didn’t already have several films with almost the same “save the city from an evil trash portal” routine. Seriously, why does this keep happening? Hopefully the sequel will think smaller, if a sequel even happens.

Patrick: For all that people slam Star Trek: The Motion Picture, this too-cool-for-school joint winds up being about the 9th film resolved by people in weird costumes yelling at V’Ger.

Fio: While arguments about why adaptations change certain aspects of (you know, adapt) the comics are exhausting, specifically making the Squad an anti-neo-Supes-defense-force seems like a terrible idea. In its original incarnation, sending the Suicide Squad on unsavory, morally gray black-ops missions that the Justice League wouldn’t be caught dead near gave the writers an auto-out to that “Why doesn’t Superman just handle this?” question. We should have been overthrowing a government or something, not closing up more glowing blue sky laser holes.

I think they forgot to give this movie an ending

Max: Dug that Jay Hernandez’s El Diablo turned into a Secret Ghost Rider and heroically sacrificed himself to save the day. Dug Deadshot teaching his little girl assassination-based geometry. But Suicide Squad doesn’t so much end as much as it runs out of steam. Amanda Waller, whose arrogance unleashed The Enchantress on a now destroyed Midway City, is never called out or punished for what she’s done. The Joker rolls up and busts out Harley Quinn like the end of an episode of Agents of SHIELD. What the hell, man?

Andrew: Well, obviously the ending sets up Justice League! Yeah, discounting the mid-credits sequence, the ending of this film leaves a lot to be desired, because there isn’t any resolution whatsoever. However, I’m still pretty keen on this film, mainly because the cast is having an absolute blast. Absolutely no one here is phoning it in, which keeps the experience entertaining. The movie is definitely edited by amateurs, but I think the cast chemistry alone as well as my fondness for the source material will keep me coming back.

Patrick: This movie really is like a mediocre-to-bad superhero comic book–it’s filled with compelling stuff, but taken as a whole it’s embarrassing to admit that you like it.

Fio: I’m going to guess that Waller will never see any ramifications for this, seeing as anyone who can confirm that the Enchantress was involved is either a member of the Squad or was a civilian who got drafted into the Putty Patrol. The second act is where this film sings, when the cast actually gets to bounce off of one another and have a good time. When we get into the cloyingly on-the-nose bar scene and jarring, treacly declarations of True Friendship in the Enchantress fight, we get to see what Warner Brothers executives apparently think makes for a good superhero movie.

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Cause of Death?

Max: Studio execs wandered into the kitchen and poured bleach all over David Ayer’s perfectly acceptable diner cheeseburger.

Andrew: Not quite dead yet, but the plug coming out of its socket has left this film in a vegetative state

Patrick: Misguided clown admiration.

Fio: Monkeys in the operating room.

 

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