November 24, 2017

What went wrong: Why ‘Suicide Squad’ tanked critically, but soared at the box office

By Jacob Nangle '18, Staff Writer

 

Suicide Squad has currently grossed almost $730 million dollars at the box office. However, the film received a 26% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes, and Peter Travers of Rolling Stone gave the film a very negative review with a rating of only one out of four stars. A movie that grosses a seemingly inexorable amount of money and yet fails seems to be the deal these days in Hollywood. Critically well received films don’t seem to be nearly as valued as they were sixteen years ago. The film industry seems to have turned into a cash-only industry. You pay, they play. Yet the players do not necessarily do well.       

That said, Suicide Squad does have some positive elements amongst the boring, overly violent, and poor structure. The film revolves around a group of jailbirds who are recruited by Amanda Waller, played by Viola Davis. She wants these inmates, played by Will Smith as Deadshot, Margot Robbie as Harley Quinn, Jai Courtney as Captain Boomerang, Jay Hernandez as El Diablo, and Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje as Killer Croc, to stop a beam from shooting into the sky released by the evil Enchantress played by Cara Delevinge.

The performances in this film (for the most part) are great.  Smith as Deadshot is by far the shining element. His character has a very human story. In fact, he’s the only character who feels human in the entirety of this movie. Also excellent is Margot Robbie as Harley Quinn. Between her costume design, accent, and chemistry with the other characters, Harley Quinn is dangerous and awesome all at the same time. Jared Leto also gives a great performance as The Joker.

The problem? Leto’s not on screen very much, and his story is awkwardly thrust into this film. Viola Davis is extremely flat in this movie. She doesn’t add anything to the story. Neither do Killer Croc, Captain Boomerang, or Katana (played by Karen Fukuhara) This movie is filled to the brim with throwaway characters that don’t even need to be in this picture.

Where this movie really falls flat is story. This is one of the most confusing, boring, and overly-convoluted stories ever seen on screen. The film flashes back and forth between past and present, trying to give us the love story between The Joker and Harley Quinn. Then it goes back to the present, where a villain named Enchantress (who we do not care about whatsoever due to her over-dramatized back story) is trying to shoot this beam into the sky that will eventually end planet Earth. The editing in this movie is poor which leads the flashbacks and weaving of narrative to be confusing and appear very low budget. A movie from DC should not appear low-budget. This is a gigantic business with lots of huge successes such as The Dark Knight. The quality of this film as well as the overall product was immensely disappointing.

David Ayer directs this film, and compared to other products of Ayer’s work, this is an odd dud of a project. In no way am I suggesting that great film directors cannot have flops, such as Cameron Crowe did with Aloha, but this movie is a grand departure from Ayer’s body of work. It makes the viewer wonder if Ayer is not entirely at fault himself. Studio intervention can severely damage a film, and it wouldn’t be surprising if something along those lines happened behind the scenes of this directorial effort.

It’s also worth noting that there is a great divide among audiences. Some hail it as a massively disappointing movie. Yet others claim to love it. Suicide Squad polarized moviegoers and that’s fascinating, considering I found it to be very poorly done.

The style of this film however, does succeed. The soundtrack, though not very original, works well and proved to be a really intriguing mix of new music such as Heathens by twenty one pilots and older music including Bohemian Rhapsody by Queen. It’s also worth remembering that the marketing campaign and trailers to this film were great. They left out the plot and made the film look revolutionary in terms of the DC universe.

Unfortunately one of summer 2016’s most anticipated films turned out to be a massive disappointment. Between the story line, editing, and lack of characterization, we ended up getting a film that confuses rather than entertains. Perhaps there will be a sequel? This time around, take full advantage of each of the characters and simplify the story.

*.5

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