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Director David Ayer must have a huge crush on someone because he just made the most expensive mixtape ever. As a playlist, Suicide Squad gets an A+, featuring tracks from Lesley Gore (“You Don’t Own Me”), The Rolling Stones (“Sympathy For The Devil”), Kanye (“Black Skinhead”), AC/DC (“Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap”), K7 (“Come Baby Come”), Kehlani (“Gangsta”), and Queen (“Bohemian Rhapsody”). Warner Bros. obviously spent a fortune on the song rights alone, never mind the money required to hire actors and roll film.
As a movie, it doesn’t quite manage to achieve its Squad goals. Rumour is that Ayer found himself in a standoff with the studio over the final cut. WB reportedly wanted lightness and rainbows (see: Harley Quinn’s hair) and Ayer wanted to go dark (see: Viola Davis’ unexpectedly brutal Amanda Waller). If the cut we’re seeing on the screen is actually the result of a compromise between the two parties, all we can say is that, well, it’s compromising.
Most of the cast holds up their end of the deal (Davis and Joel Kinnaman especially), but the edit is confusing and disjointed, and the pacing is off. Some scenes need more time while others move too slowly. Catastrophe strikes quickly, before the setup has time to set in. In a movie that’s over two hours long, this shouldn’t be happening.
Ayer is charged with building a DC world here—like Joss Whedon did for Marvel with 2012’s Avengers movie—and it’s no easy thing. We’re meeting an ensemble cast of iconic characters onscreen for the first time and Ayer gives us a rock-solid introduction to Deadshot (Will Smith), Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie), and the rest of the Squad. There’s a tonne of backstory to wedge in (including how Quinn became entangled with Jared Leto’s Joker, who’s fine here, but not fine enough to make up for the crazy antics he subjected his costars to throughout the shoot) and, naturally, an enemy to build up and knock down (Cara Delevingne as a Zuul for the 21st century).
But if you ever wanted to know what a major Canadian city would look like if WW3 was ignited, Suicide Squad offers a glimpse. Toronto stands out in key scenes that showcase Yonge-Dundas Square, Bay subway station, and a number of the core’s glass towers—all of which are destroyed in the ensuing chaos. Fun, whatever your feelings about the GTA might be.
Suicide Squad crash-lands (and burns a little bit) into theatres Friday, August 5.