#9 in my ranking of the DCEU franchise.
Failure has a thousand fathers, but I don’t think you could ever excuse David Ayer from the dumpster fire that is Suicide Squad. Yes, the stories of Warner Brothers getting different editing houses to compete over the edit and a commercial editing firm won to help make the movie a near completely incomprehensible mess, but I don’t think that the editing mess can really hide the fact that this is a movie that tried too much in too short a time. Would a longer, cleaner cut improve things? Probably, but there’s still the fact that the central idea never rises above really dumb.
So, Superman has arrived and died. The world knows that metahumans exist and Amanda Waller has a plan. She’s going to take several of the worst people in prison, some with special abilities some without, and put them into a group to go after bad weird things. Sort of. She’s confident she can do it because she knows how to get people to act outside of their self-interest, though she never really demonstrates that beyond planting bombs in people’s necks ala Escape from New York. She never really seems to be in control of anything.
So, the squad is made up of Deadshot who never misses when he uses a gun, El Diablo who can make fire with his hands, Killer Croc who is a big reptilian guy, the Enchantress who is a malevolent spirit that has possessed a young doctor lady, Captain Boomerang who, um…, throws a boomerang, and Harley Quinn who is, um…, pretty and psychotic. The group doesn’t make a whole lot of sense, but whatever. They’re bad, and I guess that’s all that matters, though they all have soft spots designed to make them appealing to the audience which makes them much less bad.
The first half or so of the movie is cut up terribly. We get a couple of minute scenes, all set to different styles of music, trying to cutely introduce each character including on screen text to supply extra information. It never settles into any kind of narrative groove, choosing to instead jump from one character to another inelegantly at best. This is all doled out as Waller explains her plan to some kind of superior over dinner. Eventually, the whole stupidity of the situation becomes evident with the malevolent spirit Enchantress easily escapes her bonds, frees her brother’s spirit, and they join together to try and destroy the world. I mean, if Waller had never had her stupid plan, none of this would have happened. The lax security around the Enchantress’s brother’s little statue that held his soul is just icing on the cake, I guess. None of this gets fixed with another cut. The stupidity is at the core of the story.
So, with the Enchantress and her brother going all blue beam in the sky in the middle of Midway City, the Suicide Squad is called up to go in and rescue a VIP. The stakes and very point of this mission are super unclear for a while, and kind of confusing. We have our super villain team up and they’re…not going to the blue beam in the sky? They’re…walking to a building for an operation that ends…in a helicopter pickup? See, this is really, really stupid. A new cut will not fix this.
So, they get to the VIP, and it’s Waller who’s just so bad that she kills a bunch of her aides after she’s rescued. See?! There’s little difference between good and bad! Plus Deadshot has a cute daughter! It’s dumb. It’s really dumb. So, the Suicide Squad then decides that they’re going to save the world, and we get some big special effects scenes and the movie finally comes to a merciful end.
This movie is broken fundamentally, and it’s kind of sad to see. David Ayer started out well with End of Watch and Fury, but he’s proven himself to be creatively bankrupt ever since. Between this and Bright, he’s got little of the spark that seemed to make him a promising director from the beginning. There’s no denying that Warner Brothers messed with this, taking it from Ayers’ hands in post-production. Maybe another cut could help save the first half, but the second half is still defined by nearly impossible to discern action sequences because they’re filmed so darkly, an incredibly stupid plot driven by incredibly stupid characters, and a shockingly aimless narrative drive. Oh, and the Joker is a complete waste of space with Jared Leto being allowed to go off the deep end to little actual effect.
This is one of the worst superhero movies ever made. And, I repeat an alternate cut would only fix so much of it. This movie is a disaster that Warner Brothers just made worse. They started meddling with Batman V Superman and wouldn’t stop until after Justice League. I swear, if you’re going to hire a guy to write and direct a $150-$200 million movie, make sure you’re happy with your choice before he starts filming. If he’s in the editing bay, don’t try to rework everything. It never comes out well.