Suicide Squad cameo

What Is This Movie?

The first serious red flag arrives early in Suicide Squad when the characters are introduced via a series of colorful graphics that display their names and their various attributes and abilities. The second red flag takes a few extra minutes to reveal itself. It arrives once you realize that the barrage of instantly recognizable rock and pop songs simply isn’t going to stop and that they are going to arrive one after another after another after another like a jukebox from hell.

These choices go hand-in-hand and reflect the biggest issue facing Suicide Squad at nearly every turn: the whole thing is trying way too hard. In fact, the whole thing may be trying way too hard to emulate Guardians of the Galaxy, which also featured memorable music cues and also provided backstory for its cast via onscreen text (albeit through in-universe Nova Corps rap sheets). Suicide Squad wants to be offbeat and cool, the off-kilter cousin with the motorcycle and the extensive vinyl collection to the core DC universe, but you quickly realize that that the motorcycle is just for show and that it can’t actually name the members of the bands it claims to love. The soundtrack, those graphics, feel like desperate attempts to transform one movie into another.

Every film deserves to be watched in a vacuum, but it’s hard to do that with Suicide Squad, whose production difficulties have become public knowledge in the past week. Once you know the tales of dueling edits and studio-mandated reshoots, you can see the scars on the film itself. You can see the movie David Ayer wanted to make and the movie that Warner Bros. ended up stitching together like a Frankenstein’s Monster. Perhaps the reason Suicide Squad feels like a desperate attempt to recreate the bizarro charms of Guardians of the Galaxy is because those trailers reminded so many people of James Gunn’s superhero space opera. And those trailers were really, really good. And David Ayer doesn’t typically make movies that feel like those trailers.

You can feel Ayer’s hand at work here. His characters are brutes with chips on their shoulders. Ugly testosterone is at the forefront of virtually every character. There’s a nastiness in every frame that easily recalls his work in Fury and Sabotage. But you can also feel an external force, the one coating Ayer’s trademark grimness with memorable pop songs and slapping aggressively silly graphics over character introductions and inserting a cameo from Ezra Miller’s the Flash and expecting us to lap it up even though we haven’t been given a reason to actually care about the Flash in any way yet. Suicide Squad is a movie at war with itself, a project torn between two very different visions, and it never knows what it wants to be.

suicide squad reshoots

The Helicopter Problem

Three helicopters crash in Suicide Squad. Specifically, there are three separate scenes where different helicopters carrying main characters are shot out of the sky and crash. That also means that there are three separate scenes where the important characters in each helicopter come out of the wreckage unscathed. Two of these incidents literally occur one right after the other, with different characters surviving chopper crashes within five minutes of each other. It feels like a running joke that no one wants to acknowledge. It also feels like a microcosm for everything that is wrong with how this movie is structured and paced.

If everyone thought it was okay to feature three separate helicopter crashes that are identical in every way that matters, it becomes easier to understand why the first 45 minutes of Suicide Squad are composed entirely of character introductions, with several characters being introduced more than once. Take Deadshot, who we meet in the very first scene of the movie, looking despondent in his prison cell. He is reintroduced in a flashback not ten minutes later. Ten minutes after that, he is introduced once more at his “audition” for the team, where the skills we saw on display in the flashback are shown off once again. We don’t need to meet Deadshot three times, but we do. He’s the worst offender, but this applies to other members of the ensemble as well.

And then the movie has the audacity to keep those introductions coming. We don’t meet Adam Beach‘s Slipknot or Katana until nearly an hour into the movie, where they arrive with no fanfare and proceed to do little of consequence. In Suicide Squad, characters are either continuous reintroduced or they’re not introduced properly at all. There’s no real structure here, no sense of pacing or of one thing leading to another. The movie opens with wheel-spinning and the drops us into an extended third act. The news that the movie has been apparently chopped into ribbons could go a long way to explaining what went wrong, but the effect is deeply unpleasant. After awhile, Suicide Squad begins to feel like a collection of scenes rather than a story, with the edit limping from event to event with no rhyme or reason for one event leading to another.

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