When movies want you to root for the bad guy or at the very least see him as a human being, they all do the same thing. There’s a shot of that bad guy walking or driving silently while the Rolling Stones’ “Sympathy for the Devil” plays. That happens within the first five minutes of the latest superhero release from DC, Suicide Squad. This time, characters you’ve always thought of as villains are cast in the role of heroes. And the whole thing couldn’t be more cliché and boring.
Amanda Waller (The Help’s Viola Davis) has assembled a group of bad guys she calls Special Task Force X. It includes Batman villains Deadshot (Will Smith), Killer Croc (Lost’s Adele Akinnuoye-Agbaje) and Harley Quinn (Wolf of Wall Street’s Margot Robbie), Diablo (Hostel’s Jay Hernandez), and Flash villain (and I can’t believe this is a real character’s name on anything that isn’t a PBS cartoon about discovering Australia) Captain Boomerang (Divergent’s Jai Courtney).
Now, if you aren’t familiar with the comic books, you’re probably looking at that paragraph and thinking “Hey, where’s the Joker?” And that’s fair. The movie is marketed as if Jared Leto’s Joker plays a major role in the film. SPOILER ALERT!!! He does not. Also, Leto takes a character that was known for being fun and turns him into just a dull guy that wears makeup, but more on that later.
Waller puts Col. Rick Flag (House of Card’s Joel Kinnaman, ) and his girlfriend June Moone (Paper Town’s Cara Delevingne), who again should be a character on that PBS show about Australia, in charge of the team. June Moone (yuck!) is possessed by an ancient witch called Enchantress, because why be creative?
Enchantress escapes and frees her brother, an equally powerful warlock named Incubus, who should have had that dumb song “Drive” play every time he was on screen, but for some reason did not. Together, these siblings reign hell upon Midway City, because I guess Warner Brothers and DC thought you had to pay to say the word “Chicago.”
Flag assembles the team of bad guys along with his body guard (because all Navy Seals have and need one of those) Katana (newcomer Karen Fukuhara) to head to Chica - I mean “Midway City” - and kick some butt.
This is the most boring superhero movie I have ever seen. Case-in-point: there is a 15 minute scene just to tell you who half these characters are. A good rule of thumb when you’re making a movie is if you need a 15 minute scene that sucks me out of the action to justify why your movie is being made, it probably shouldn’t have been made.
Now, it’s not bad, mind you. Suicide Squad certainly has its charms, namely Robbie’s spot on Harley Quinn. She’s sexy, funny and plays crazy very well. But the movie is a cut-and-paste version of every superhero movie you have ever seen.
Oh, and after the R-rated Deadpool was a hit back in February, Warner Brothers sent Suicide Squad back for reshoots to make it “edgier,” so you know the end product is going to be fun because it’s naughty! The re-shot scenes are worked so poorly into the film that I can’t imagine the movie’s editors can even bare to look at the finished product.
Then there is the soundtrack. This thing has so many damn music cues of popular songs that it plays more like an MTV original series than a feature film. Eminem is the soundtrack for the Suicide Squad gearing up for battle. CCR’s “Fortunate Son” plays as the team descends on the Windy - I mean Midway City in a chopper. It is all so goofy.
But goofy is what you expect from any movie involving Zack Snyder. Snyder is a guy who keeps getting work, and has been handed the creative reigns of the Justice League franchise, despite never making a good movie. Snyder is merely a producer here, David Ayer (Training Day and End of Watch) serves as the director, but this has all the familiar signs of a Zack Snyder movie - the apocalypse, overcast skies, no joy whatsoever. Hell, the bad guy, Incubus (fine, not “Drive,” but how about “Wish You Were Here”? That one was slightly less bad.) is black, yellow and grey, Snyder’s favorite color scheme!
I’ll say it again: Suicide Squad isn’t a bad movie. It’s a boring movie. A boring movie may make you crack a smile. It may have a few signs of life, but ultimately a boring movie is repetitive. In the case of Suicide Squad, that is Will Smith answering every tough guy quip from Rick Flag with a sassy one-liner. Literally every one! Boring movies try to shock and surprise you by doing what has worked in every movie like it that has ever come before. A boring movie is boring because you can predict the next big twist from a mile away. That’s Suicide Squad’s problem.
Before I started writing my review, a friend on Twitter reached out and said that he heard Suicide Squad was like hitting a home run, but breaking your leg before you cross home plate, so you’re out. That is being way too kind. Suicide Squad is like being 7, dreaming of hitting a home run in the World Series, and then getting hit by a bus.
Demetri Ravanos is a member of the North Carolina Film Critics Association and has reviewed movies for Raleigh and Company, Military1.com and The Alan Kabel Radio Network.