A review by the Raven.
Please note: There are massive spoilers in this review.
From Skwad to Squak
I’m glad to roll out the first corvid review with a film whose concept I absolutely love. The entire idea of a bad ass group of superheroes/villains pressed all the right buttons for me – but in reality I’m a fresh fan, with no expectations. This set me up at the perfect place as a reviewer – arriving with a clean slate, positively excited, yet free of prejudice.
So what is the SKWAD? Its a comic book movie with an ensemble cast by David Ayer, creator of Fury (2014), The Fast and the Furious (2001) and screenwriter of Training Day (2001) based on an anti hero team of characters from the DC universe. We didn’t know what to expect from Ayer because his background is varied, but when the trailer dropped featuring an incredible cast, audiences went bat shit crazy. I did enjoy it myself, but I never trust trailers because the edit team is totally different from the original movies editors. Totally different tones. So I waited.
Thoughts on Plot:
The premise is simple – the film takes off where BvS leaves us: Superman is dead, and our resident government agent Waller (Viola Davis) sets up a team of criminals as weapons in a crew called Task Force X – aka the suicide squad. They come together as a group of good bad guys who then have the same commissioned enemy. There are romantic situations between some of our main characters, which drives the plot outwards in other directions to set up future, you guessed it, franchises. Simple enough – nothing fancy. Joker (Jared Leto) and Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie) overshadow Enchantress and Rick Flag’s love tryst massively, in one of the best fictional couples ever created.
If a person with a split personality disaster ever made a movie about good bad guys, it would be what we saw. It felt like 2 separate directors made this film – and the producers made them compromise, each getting a slice of the cake – essentially cringing it. And turns out, that’s precisely what happened in reality.
Now that we’ve been able to hear stories about what happened on set, we know for certain that there was a lot of confusion regarding how audiences would react to the dark tone of the movie, thanks to the shoddy response Batman Vs Superman received. They had also set unrealistic release dates that they basically had to stick to. DC had a good old panic attack and played it uber safe, and even downright silly; basically tanking what could’ve been a badass sadistic knocker of a film. Ayer was given 6 weeks to write a script, and it does show in the film. There are a lot of lines that feel stale, unoriginal and on the verge of campy. What could have easily been a more sardonic, witty film fell short for me in the choppy editing and cliched one liners.
However – what the film loses in script, it salvages in the soundtrack. The OST is on fire and definitely adds to the overall tone of the film. Another thing that works for me is the colour correction and VFX of the movie – it is grungy in all the right places, with bright neon colours and high contrasts. I like the viewpoint of walking through the streets, almost game like in some points – especially when Harley jumps off the building into Jokers helicopter, Waller shoots at Enchantresses beings while stuck in an upturned vehicle, Batman jumps onto the purple Lamborghini and Deadshot stands atop a car, killing everything in sight, with not one miss. Pretty cool.
And that’s exactly what they have you thinking, till you come to final scene – in one of the poorest portrayals of a DC villain ever. Enchantress (Cara Delevingne) really sunk this film for me – she managed to make one of the most powerful badass women in the DC world look like a jerky, hula hooping, junkie in tatters.
HARLEY QUINN – Margot Robbie 8/10
Margot is really funny as Harley Quinn; sometimes sexy and silly, sometimes cute and whimsical. She’s irrevocably in love with the Joker, and suffers from severe Stockholm syndrome which adds a crunchy mental angle to this character, given she is a psychiatrist herself. I can totally see her being a franchise queen in this realm, and we’ve already heard that a girl team movie led by Quinn is in the making, so there you go. Overall, I just want more craziness from her, and less sexy – I think her wit can actually make her seem more dark and insane if DC allows the writers to unleash the full power of Dr Harleen Quinzel.
DEADSHOT – Will Smith 7/10
Will Smith as deadshot was… Will Smith. I don’t really see how he did anything different from his gig in Hitch to be honest. It’s the same guy – and thats a good and a bad thing – I didn’t learn as much about his character as I wanted to know, except some basic details, which is odd considering how much screen time they gave him. But did he do the job? Yes, yes he did.
BOOMERANG – Jai Courtney 8/10
He was a surprising but good dose of comic relief in another wise heavy member team.
KATANA – Karen Fukuhara 5/10
Poor Katana was given all of 4 lines, and even had her kickass belt of armour removed for a midriff crop top. Really Hollywood? I think this character was boring and cliched, and left nothing for me to be intrigued by.
AMANDA WALLER – Viola Davis 6/10
As much as people are saying she was great, personally Davis came across as a dry bitchy cafeteria lady who needed to get laid. Deadpool should get in touch with her. (Wow crossover universe reference whaaaat). I wanted more emoting from this character. I needed to learn more about her background if she is the ringleader in a huge cast.
ENCHANTRESS – Cara Delevingne 3/10
She proved why she needs to seriously stick to Instagram and leave the acting to real actors. Really – what on earth was with that villain choice? Disappointing.
INCUBUS – Alain Chanoine – 1/10
No. No comments, just no.
THE JOKER – Jared Leto 7/10
The most hyped (and anticipated) part of the movie was The Joker. Compared to the comics not only was he much nicer to Harley than he actually is, he was a completely different rendition of the character we all know. He was a boyfriend – and if you take into account that Ryan Gosling was originally cast for the role, I’m glad Jared Leto got it, even though some of his laughs left me confused as hell in the movie. He matches better with Robbie, and also managed to pull off the script in a way Gosling would not have been able to.
EL DIABLO – Jay Hernandez 8/10
You also didn’t have the right to blow up El Diablo (one of the dopest characters on the squad) especially when his death was stupid and unnecessary! I really wanted to see more of this character.
RICK FLAG – Joel Kinnaman 4/10
Absolutely wooden, placid and void of personality – I couldn’t connect with this guy one bit. He felt uncomfortable on set, almost constantly trying to prove that he belonged there. Which he didn’t.
KILLER CROC – Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje 8/10
He’s beautiful. I really enjoyed his screen time, and was quite freaked out in his opening shot. Well done, VFX and make up teams.
BATMAN – Ben Affleck 9/10
Im a total Batfleck fan – so I’ll just say I wish we got more of him, but I’ll take what I get. If you were lucky enough to stay till the end, you saw the post credit video of Bruce Wayne and Waller discussing The Justice League over dinner. That was awesome.
Some redeeming bits of the movie really did shine – I loved the scenes between Joker and Harley, with throwbacks to her in the original costume and also the signature scene of them jumping into and emerging from vats of acid and chemical goodness. The fights were alright – with one massive helicopter chase and crash that was the only somewhat passable action sequence. But over all, I had fun. Were things wrong with the film? Yes. Were things terrible? Not really – I was entertained.
It was a good time, and I don’t know if it was the combination of bright pretty lights & a dope soundtrack, or seeing Harley come to life and revisiting that rebellious feeling from my teens – but whatever it was, it was amusing. Definitely too reliant on the branding and idea of the movie than the movie itself; and that’s what you’re left with – a weird feeling where you had a good-ish time but you wanted more. We need a bigger, more potent dose of how far DC can really take this. We already have a Guardians of the Galaxy – what we need is a SKWAD with no bounds put on the characters. Here’s hoping.