Where did it go wrong? Suicide Squad

Where do I even start?

I’m going to discuss several points that led to a flawed script and a mess of a story.

Music

This film, or at least the editing of it, leaned too heavily on music to tell a story and make it seem cool.

You can get a sense of this haphazard use of music to make the story seem engaging back in the days of the trailer releases:

The first teaser trailer:  “I Started a Joke” by ConfidentialMX ft. Becky Hanson. Slow music, slow editing and building tension. The first trailer was subdued, more DC-movie style.

Official Trailer #1: Conveniently around the time that Batman V Superman was being made fun of for being too dark and gritty, the tone in the Suicide Squad trailers shifted to be more fun and upbeat. Like…a Marvel movie.

The hijinks of the Squad are portrayed against the very popular “Bohemian Rhapsody” by Queen. Pratfalls and silliness punctuate through the music to sell the point, like the ridiculousness of Boomerang jumping out of a duffel bag and punching everyone around him.

“Let’s do something fun,” Enchantress says in this trailer. I don’t recall her actually saying that in the movie, but the message is clear: We’re not like other DC movies. We’re the fun ones!

Official Trailer #2: “You Don’t Own Me” by Grace ft. G-Eazy and “Ballroom Blitz” by Sweet. The message here: We’re STILL the fun ones! “You Don’t Own Me” transitions into the more upbeat “Ballroom Blitz” — an indicator of the over reliance of music to show emotion.

We see this in the movie itself. There are so many music cues in this film that they run together. Each character is introduced with their own theme, and since they all come up in Amanda Waller’s description of her Task Force X idea, all their introductions meld together, thereby taking the punch out of their individual stories.

Harley’s intro contains Rick James’ “Superfreak.”

There are two major music cues that carry this one “Suit Up” scene. This happened throughout the movie, which –frankly — is overkill.

Music does a lot to help get at the emotion of a scene, but when you rely soley on music to be fun, instead of fully developing your characters and having a worthwhile script, no amount of catchy tunes will save your film.

 

Characters

It’s very difficult to pull off an ensemble film. Suicide Squad had Harley, Deadshot, Diablo, Capt. Boomerang, King Croc, Katana, Enchantress, Rick Flagg and Amanda Waller as main characters. When you have so many people to focus on, it’s difficult to give them the recognition they deserve.  Katana and Captain Boomerang could have gone home since they were so underrepresented. King Croc wasn’t all that interesting — he’s just a big scary looking guy who eats a lot. Deadshot had a nice backstory, Harley’s felt too rushed, and Diablo got one look-back scene that was interesting and that’s it.

But Avengers did it twice, you might argue. Yes, they did. But most of those characters had their own solo movie or at least appeared in other movies like Black Widow and Falcon did. I’d argue that the Avengers could have been stronger with fewer characters, but we knew them already. The combo movie didn’t have to carry the weight of each person’s introduction.

Did I want a solo movie for all the Suicide Squad members? Hell no. It doesn’t warrant it. But with better focus on a couple characters, or a single strong viewpoint character (I’d argue mostly for Harley, but Deadshot could have made a good angle), this movie would have been that much closer to succeeding.

Harley Quinn is getting her own solo movie, possibly with the Birds of Prey involved (please oh please), and that I’m hopelessly optimistic for.

CG/Special Effects

I am usually not one to nitpick on the quality of computer generated images in a film. Mostly because they’re so ubiquitous but also because that’s the most shallow form of critique. It’s like back in the day when a new video game came out and kids would talk about how great the graphics were.

However, the CG in this movie was all over the place. Sometimes it was very well done. The destructive powers of Enchantress were beautifully rendered. But then you’ve got incredibly fake muzzle blasts from Deadshot’s automatic weapon in his proving scene, and super fake fire for all of Diablo’s backstory.

Title Design/Pop Art

I think that in a rush to get this film edited down and make it more fun and quirky, these fun title sequences were added in at the last minute. Sure, they look cool, but the problem is that this style COMPLETELY DISAPPEARS from the rest of the movie until the fancy (and over-complicated) end credits. Cool idea bro, but needs some follow-through.

Final thoughts

Critics gave Suicide Squad a 25% score on Rotten Tomatoes (the audience was more lenient, with a 62%).

A combination of factors led to this film’s downfall, and that all boiled down to a non-cohesive package, filled with randomly strung together characters and scenes that were glorified music videos. You can improve a film with great music, CG, humor and more, but you can’t rely on certain elements saving a film that was probably doomed in the script stages.

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