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11 Aug 2016

Self-Inflicted Death: Due to an Incoherent Script, ‘Suicide Squad’ Is Yet Another Disappointing Summer Blockbuster

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A scene from Suicide Squad. A scene from Suicide Squad.

Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice was a skunk blast to the face for those of us looking for a fun superhero movie earlier this year. Well, Suicide Squad looked like a fine chance for DC Comics movies to get back on the right track. With David Ayer (Fury, End of Watch) at the helm, and a cast including Will Smith, Jared Leto and Margot Robbie, Suicide Squad had the potential to be a fun blast of movie mischief.

Sadly, Suicide Squad does nothing to improve the summer blockbuster season. In fact, it is the equivalent of a big, stinking torpedo of shit. After a first-half buildup that does a decent job of introducing bad-guy characters like Deadshot (Smith), Harley Quinn (Robbie) and The Joker (Leto), the movie becomes a spastic colon, resulting in that big turd referred above.

The script—if one could call it that—involves some nonsense with a government sort named Amanda Waller (Viola Davis) assembling a squad of villains to help in case a superhero goes bad. An alliance of bad guys is formed that includes Deadshot, Quinn, Killer Croc (Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje), El Diablo (Jay Hernandez) and others. When a kooky villain called Enchantress (Cara Delevingne) starts some sort of apocalyptic tornado in the middle of Gotham, the Suicide Squad launches into action.

I have no real idea what the Enchantress was up to with her blue-tornado dance show extravaganza; man, it’s weird and confusing. She’s busting moves on some sort of stage while carrying on strange conversations with those questioning her motives. The Squad has to fight mushy humanoid monsters on their way to the Enchantress, and it’s unspeakably odd … in a bad way.

At the core of this mess are potentially fun performances from Smith and, especially, Robbie. Actually, a movie that simply featured these two would’ve been more than enough. Other villains like Diablo, Boomerang (Jai Courtney) and Fantastic Mustache Man Pizza Pants (OK, I made that one up) don’t register and steal quality time from the characters that are interesting.

As for the much-hyped Joker: Jared Leto is reduced to a few preening moments; his part is nothing more than a glorified extended cameo. That marketing ploy that had you thinking the Joker was a leader of the Suicide Squad? It was a ruse. Much of his role consists of texts to Harley Quinn letting her know he’s on the way. Then he shows up, shows off his metal teeth and tattoos, and runs away laughing like an idiot.

Considering the power of some of Ayer’s past work, it’s surprising to witness such a mess. Perhaps this disaster is the result of studio meddling after the critical car crash that was Batman v Superman? Perhaps it’s because he never had a script worth shooting?

On the red carpet for this film’s premiere, Robbie and Smith both boasted that they signed on for the movie without seeing the script. They just wanted to work with Ayer. Well, I’m thinking Robbie and Smith should’ve gone against their instincts on this one. Demand a script the next time—and if that script involves a climax with somebody named the Enchantress delivering ponderous monologues while disco-dancing in front of a bright-blue dust devil, flanked by large humanoids with severe acne, run away … and run away fast.

Maybe there’s a three-hour cut of this thing somewhere that makes a little more sense. Or, based on the record-breaking opening weekend, maybe Warner Bros. knows by now that people will always shell out money for this crap, and quality is of no concern.

Suicide Squad is playing in a variety of formats at theaters across the valley.

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