I saw Suicide Squad a few weeks ago, and no matter how I tried I couldn’t write a review of it. It’s not that I can’t find the words. I can easily use words like ‘mess’ and ‘toilet’ but I found myself not wanting to review the film, instead opting to allow my mind to frazzle over the baffling absurdity of Suicide Squad’s existence.
People keep asking me what my thoughts are, and the line I always lead with is: “The first hour feels like it was edited by a 15 year old whose only experience with video is YouTube fail compilations”.
It’s the strangest 60 minutes of blockbuster filmmaking I think I’ve ever seen. Characters are introduced and then introduced again as if we’ve never met them (Will Smith’s Deadshot has 3 of them!), The Joker comes in and out seemingly at random allowing for zero character development which makes him more or less a series of irritating memes, scenes finish in jarring places and then cut to unrelated and non-cohesive other story strands, stories are setup then never returned to, and everything looks like a nightmare induced by an overdose of slush drinks.
This is all before we reach the massive flaw thrown up by the major plot itself; that after all the government negotiations to actually sanction a group of villains playing the heroes, the only trouble they have to put a stop to is caused by one of their own.
Suicide Squad should thank its lucky stars for its Casting Director, and that Will Smith and Margot Robbie said yes, for without these happenings the film would be unwatchable. It’s Smith’s star power and Robbie’s brilliantly unhinged performance that makes Suicide Squad passable. But the product as a whole is just a horrible fever dream of loose editing choices.
The worry, for me, is that this might represent what studios think movies should be. After all, Director David Ayer (End of Watch, Fury) and Editor Jon Gilroy (Nightcrawler, Warrior), are both bloody brilliant filmmakers, who know how to craft cinema not just of the popcorn variety, but of the artistic too – they wouldn’t have done this on purpose. So how many executives got in the mix and decided that this film should resemble YouTube having an epileptic fit? Who thought that rather than having a meticulously crafted story with meaningful beats, they should just throw random clips together as if we were watching one giant trailer for the first hour?
In the age of supposed (I don’t buy it) diminished attention spans, and kids wanting fast and convenient entertainment, is this a deliberate attempt to placate what the money men think is demanded by the masses?
I can only hope that Suicide Squad was just an experiment of this type, and that its so-so box office of £687 million (yes I just called that much money ‘so-so’, don’t tell me they weren’t vying for £1 billion at least), will mean the horrible style will fizzle out to nothing more than a mistake.
After all, the Suicide Squad’s characters were great. It was funny in parts and the action was well shot. A sequel would be fine. But this time just let the crew do their thing. Give them some time and breathing space, and give us punters an edit which allows us those same privileges.