Review: Suicide Squad (2016)



Suicide Squad is an entertainment free dead zone. In fact, one cannot even call it a film because it plays more like a series of awkward skits that have been edited together with short vignettes that feel like music videos. In essence, the film is like a child who has discovered swearing for the first time, relishing in its apparent boundary-pushing behaviour but ultimately looking absurd and juvenile. Worst of all, when the film does occasionally feel the need to take five, it’s dramatic moments are in service to its continuous and obnoxiously stated premise- we are the bad guys.

This is a shame as there potential moments that could have been emotionally resonating however they are undercut by the film’s humour that pervades the film like Tourette’s syndrome. For example, in the third act, there is a scene where all the principal characters are in a bar. In the aftermath of a harrowing confession that is made by Chato Santana (Jay Hernandez), the inexplicably popular, attention seeking and loud mouth that is Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie) makes an inappropriate comment. The moment serves as a vital reminder that the film is devoid of any real emotional depth as it lumbers from one supposedly funny joke to the next.

At the heart of Suicide Squad is a genuine sense that the director David Ayer has been sucked into the studio whirlpool. The film’s visual scheme is drab, muddy and incredibly lacking in any creativity. Even Ayer’s reported visual flair gets lost amidst the bland proceedings. For example, in a recent Empire article, Ayer revealed that the inspiration for the smashy human fodder in the picture came from a nightmare, which he briefly sketches with the following description “There was a black pool of oil with a human shape rising out of it.”

If one were being generous, the visually arresting moments of Suicide Squad are regulated to mere seconds. During the beginning Harley Quinn vignette, there are a few interesting shots that represent fascinating cinematic interpretations of Alex Ross’ photorealistic comic book artwork. And there is a striking scene that occurs in the middle of the film that involves the Joker (Jared Leto) and Harley. The former is asking his partner for utter devotion, and Harley reciprocates via a baptism through acid, which he partakes in later in the scene. In their embrace in the acid pool, the lovers look like two people cuddling on a canvas which is accentuated with a heavy use of muted green combined with little strokes of purple and blue that surround the characters.

The moment encapsulates the problem with this interpretation of the Clown Prince of Crime. At worst Leto’s Joker comes across as a psychotic Austin Powers. However, at best one can say that his role in the film is utterly insubstantial. On a conceptual level, he feels like a confused man that can’t decide whether or not he wants to be a flamboyant, crazy person or Tony Montana from Scarface. So, he synthesises the two, and the result is a queer interpretation with flashes of brilliance such as his laugh and a tattoo of a smile that he occasionally uses to cover the bottom half of his face.

About Sartaj Govind Singh

Notes from a distant observer: “Sartaj is a very eccentric fellow with a penchant for hats. He likes watching films and writes about them in great analytical detail. He has an MA degree in Philosophy and has been known to wear Mickey Mouse ears on his birthday.”
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