3 v. 3: Suicide Squad Extended Version
The Extended Cut came out on Nov 15th in the US and the bluray will release Dec 13th. We wanted to give Suicide Squad another look. Suicide Squad was a big box office hit and a big disappointment to critics. Fans are split. You decide who wins, the good or the bad!
In this 3v3, we face off 3 of the best from Suicide Squad against the 3 worst from the film. You decide which comes out on top. You’re the judge.
Your opinion is the one that matters!
We applaud Suicide Squad for fun and authentic characters. Harley, Deadshot, Boomerang, and Waller were standouts. The look of some of the characters was the kind of comic-realism we look for while some stylistic additions were a bit much, almost everyone had tattoos front and center.
Harley Quinn stole the show. Margot Robbie created a comic-real and authentic Harley for the character’s big screen debut. She loses a little in her interactions with a hapless Joker and never gets to her truly gritty origins. But when she speaks, we hear Harley. When she gets under everyone’s skin, that’s Harley! The extended cut adds some more of her Doctor Quinzel side as she psycho-analyzes her fellow squad members to get under their skin. Her look was all Harley and we even got DCEU signature flashbacks just to show us an iconic look. She looked the part and won us over. It’s no wonder she is getting her own Birds of Prey style film. We’re excited to see it!
The 'man who can’t miss' hit his target. Despite being basically Will Smith as an assassin, we liked Deadshot. Will Smith is solid and draws out some complexity to a simple assassin. He does get the benefit of the best lines and all the attention of a big Hollywood star, but it works well enough. It’s the character development that lets Deadshot down as they muddy his motives between villain and hero. A conflicted but villainous Deadshot would have been better but the safe play worked ok.
Boomerang had his funny moments! He plays a funny kind of "dufus bro” chugging beer in the middle of a fight and protecting his stuffed unicorn at all costs. He’s not the wise-cracking sharp and rigid villain of the comics. Yet, he is charming, funny, and more grounded - which in this case works. With better character action sequences and some more authentic, bold plot choices, he would have been hilarious. It would have been too good if he never came back after taking off from the bar when Flag sets them free. It’s a shame he didn’t because he offers little more than a tiny bit of recon from that point on.
Amanda Waller was the real villain of the movie and shined. She is wicked, evil, and focused. She was the only “bad guy” despite not being on the squad. Waller’s bravado and ambition stand out from the comics and shine on camera. Hopefully, we get to see more of her standing toe to toe with the Bruce Wayne’s of the DCEU.
Another set of rich (yet short lived) visual storytelling came in the beginning of the film. The hero cameos and the back stories they gave screen time to were great. Batman swooping down behind Deadshot was incredible. Flash’s few seconds on camera were exciting as he captures Boomerang. It’s too bad they couldn’t reach a balance for these little cameos or work in a larger one throughout the plot without having the hero take over the film. It’s a glimpse to what could have been if they put heroes as the opposition to our bad guys in some sections.
An iconic DC hero unwittingly getting in the way of Waller’s plans could have brought some plot elements together and avoided other pitfalls. The one cameo they had run through the film was the Joker. He just fell flat as he didn’t achieve anything from a plot standpoint, didn’t develop any conflict or create any movement in the story. He came in and left repeatedly, changing nothing and making no sense. His part was meaningless and full of plot holes and editing problems. Unfortunately, these great cameo scenes were one part awesome and another part disappointing that they were just setup flashbacks.
The style of the trailers set a high mark for the film. The introduction of each character was explosive, with different stylized elements from text information to visual highlights. They have heart and feel unique. It’s too bad they didn’t have a lasting tonal effect on the movie. Once the graphics stopped popping up, the film had little style and felt bland.
There were hints of this style in different spots. The Joker standing over Harley about to torture her has a neon pop effect for a fraction of a second. The character icons pop from time to time but you have to watch closely to see them. Take Deadpool which had those similar stylized sequences in the beginning. Those pieces gave way to story but it all felt in the same pace and irreverent tone. The music in Suicide Squad had its moments showcasing the tone from the trailers but that all seemed to stay in act one of the film. The fun stopped when the plot took over. It bent under the weight of the films issues. We loved the tone in parts of the film, witty and fresh.
Suicide Squad may have had the best trailer of 2016. There are even a series of youtube videos re-doing classic trailers with “Suicide Squad style.”
Not Even Villains
Going in we were intrigued by the style of the film and the director who wrote Training Day and directed gritty films like Fury. Following real villains and watch them battle a hero or each other was going to be epic. There was even talk that Batman was a “villain” in this story. To see him from the criminal's eyes for some of the film would have been incredible, torturing and terrorizing them from the shadows. The Joker looked like they were going to go dark with him and explore a deeper version than ever before but Leto was just comical in the role. The best Joker of the year is still Jesse Eisenberg. The torture of Harley from the trailers and how he cackled off camera with Harley saying "uh-oh" had our interest peaked. The film delivered NONE of that. That is fine but what it did deliver was a film devoid of the "bad guys" we were promised (at the least).
They weren’t even "bad" guys. Take Deadshot, he just wants to be with his daughter. They talk a lot about how they are the "bad guys." Yet, they only do heroic things in the movie. There are flashbacks to their captures and Diablo’s horrific story, but don't be fooled these aren’t bad guys. These are reformed bad guys who are heroes by the end of the film. Most of what we see on camera are the acts of heroes. We cringed when Deadshot looks at Enchantress and for some reason says, "You are evil." We don't understand why he does a 180 and decides to selflessly save the world so his daughter will know he isn't a "piece of shit" if he is a bad guy. Make him struggle with good and evil but make him choose being a bad guy and let his actions reflect that or he is just a hero in the film. They all go against their own self-interest and fight off the Enchantress who poses no real threat to them. They are more heroic than they are villainous which is typical of generic screenwriting without any daring creativity.
When the chips are down, they band together not because they are forced to or out of survival. They're motives are often confused. Sometimes they need no reason at all. Harley comes back to the team after being freed when the Joker’s goes down in the helicopter. Boomerang even comes back after the bar scene. He just walks into line with the squad. They all stick around after being set free by Flag. Not one of them looked out for #1 in the end, which is the first thing a villain would do. No one tries to exploit the situation for their own gain. There was no backstabbing like true villains when it came down to it. In Harley's heroic moment in the final scene, she even says that Enchantress "messed with her friends." Suicide Squad members aren't friends. They are villains out for their own interest the fist chance they get. That's the fun part of the Suicide Squad and what we thought was going to be a bold and daring film. Diablo sacrifices himself for the team. The list goes on.
They can't even make the Joker a bad guy as they have Batman chase him down on "date night." There had to be some crime to prelude the car chase but we don't get that in the film. Everyone was redeemed a hero except Waller, the one out to "do some good." Suicide Squad fails miserably at delivering real bad guys and offering a bold new direction. Instead, it offers a bland, confused, and poorly conceived action ensemble.
Lack of Identity, Pitiful Plot
The film didn’t know whether it should be a grounded, street level film about villains forced to do good things or if it was an epic sci-fi introduction of magic into the DCEU.
Like Batman v. Superman before it, it tries to do a lot of different things and ends up doing none of them well. Neither worked and often they were at odds with each other. The film pits grounded heroes with “little” superhero ability against ancient magical gods. Then, the film wraps up the final conflict with...explosives. It makes for an especially fractured narrative. The quality of the plot was much closer to 2015's Fantastic 4 than The Dark Knight or even Batman v. Superman for that matter. If you are going to go grounded, you have to impress with your story and character depth. Some cool visuals and a handful of authentic looking and sounding characters without much depth does not get you there.
This lack of identity (and frankly poor directing, editing, and writing) led to another negative by-product. Plot holes everywhere. Unfortunately, those plot holes include the entire premise of the Suicide Squad’s formation, the action of the final conflicts resolution at the end of the film, and the identity of the film.
So this is why it was often said, 'larger ensemble action films are hard to make work.’ There is so little time to develop all these characters and showcase them properly. You have to make choices. Unfortunately, the nut to ensemble films was officially cracked in 2012. We have been spoiled by films that do a brilliant job juggling massive casts of heroes. You can make a great movie where characters with even cameo-level screen time can shine. You just have to make them bold and match their character beats to impressive action beats. Rooted not grounded in reality.
Nobody stands out in this movie from an action standpoint. Not once was I lost in the comic book, superhero spectacle of it all. The action beats fell flat even for the prized characters of the film like Deadshot and Harley. Deadshot’s firing range of monsters was about as jaw dropping as it got. Diablo was basically a guy shooting fire from his hands. Ok. The little fire puppet visuals were cool but the action was just him shooting fire. We've seen that a lot on film. When he goes "full El Diablo" we were more curious what he was than anything. He never wow’d us.
Harley doing flips and hitting people on the head with her bat in slo-mo was ok. It seemed a big stretch for the character. It seemed like another case of Hollywood manufacturing action from a character. Boomerang’s best action beat was drinking a beer. Katana was boring. Flag only got beat up and carried off while looking like he was constantly about to cry. Croc threw some people around. That’s a new one. SMH. Better films in this genre kill it with WOW moments.
Movies in this genre build off epic moments when characters do incredible things. In Man of Steel, there were so many WOW moments! Superman vs. Non and Faora was incredible. The final battle with Zod had its moments. The scenes on Krypton were visually spectacular. Even Green Lantern had its visually epic moments on Oa. In Batman v. Superman, there were some incredible jaw dropping moments as well. The warehouse scene with Batman was like the Arkham video games brought to life on the big screen. Wonder Woman leaping at Doomsday had our hearts pounding. The scale of Doomsday to Superman was something to behold.
Suicide Squad had a fire guy, a guy shooting guns, a girl with a bat, and a twerking witch. It never worked for us like these other action pieces. If you're going to go grounded, your story has to compel the action or you end up with a boring mess. In this genre, we prefer a rooted in reality universe with amazing and fantastic elements. We want it believable yet we believe in flying gods and men dressed as bats. Fantastic elements should be built on character depth and detailed, developed, and executed stories.
Unless of course those fantastic elements involve a witch twerking. 😂
Tell us what you thought of Suicide Squad and its Extended Version.