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'Suicide Squad' a muddled mess that focuses on style over substance

Why 'Batman v Superman' is better
Columnist Matthew Herst said he likes “Batman v Superman” better than “Suicide Squad.” Supplied photo.

After two years of feverishly waiting for “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice” to release, fans around the world were hit by a wave of disappointment. 

When the Man of Steel and the Dark Knight finally duked it out, it was a lackluster fight scene that had been preceded by mediocre character development surrounded by plot holes. But after seeing “Suicide Squad” recently, Batman v Superman doesn’t seem so bad.

Let’s start with Batman v Superman.

Not only did the film continue the adventures of Clark Kent as he struggles with his alien heritage and God-like powers, but it also introduced Ben Affleck’s Batman and Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman.

While the movie introduced all of these new players in interesting ways, it also left little space for a meaningful story to unfold or characters to develop outside of fistfights. It was a bit of a bloated mess, unsure of how to make it all meld together in a cohesive manner. 

But at least BvS was decently easy to follow. “Suicide Squad”, in comparison, is much more of a garbage-can fire, putting another nail in DC’s cinematic coffin. For the uninitiated, “Suicide Squad” follows a team of DC villains as they take on death-defying missions for the US agents so powerful that their names are only known to a select few. 

It has to simultaneously introduce a new, colourful cast of characters and take them on a memorable journey. Sadly, it only manages to accomplish one of these goals. The characters are introduced via stylish montages that not only establish their personalities, but also deliver some hectic action. 

But even these scenes come off as muddled and confusing. Scenes blur into each other in strange and unorthodox ways, with nothing flowing together in ways that it should. The audience is left to interpret things the movie should be explaining, or that the movie decides to explain in an overly convoluted way.

After the introductions are done, it moves into the main act. The squad is assembled after an ancient evil rears its head and wreaks havoc across Midway City.

The ragtag team is sent in with no real instructions, confusing the audience as to what they are actually trying to accomplish. And it never gets clearer. 

They work their way through the city, fighting off mysterious, unexplained baddies and slowly growing closer through seemingly meaningless conversations.

Maybe it's from poor writing, poor directing, poor editing, or some combination of the three, but the messages the movie is trying to convey are constantly getting lost among the hustle and bustle. When the action does start, it’s fun to watch, but even that slips into mediocrity by the film's conclusion. 

“Suicide Squad” is constantly caught between being a dark, twisted story about a pack of villains without a single heroic bone in their bodies, and a fun, action-filled superhero movie that oozes style and delivers a healthy dose of dark humor. 

“Batman v Superman”, on the other hand, knew exactly what it was. It is a darker, grittier realization of the popular DC heroes that we know and love. It’s a far cry from the grounded Gotham of Christopher Nolan’s “Dark Knight” Trilogy, but it’s not supposed to be that. 

It takes Superman and his godly set of abilities and grounds him in a world that wants nothing to do with him. He is, first and foremost, an alien, and the films want you to remember that. And that’s where Batman comes in. He sees the danger that the last son of krypton poses. He doesn’t want anymore innocent lives to be put in the balance as this seemingly indestructible man doles out his idea of justice. 

These ideas aren’t strung together in the strongest way they could’ve been, but the foundation was laid for something great. Character motivations weren’t always clear, or understanding why someone was doing something was occasionally a bit of a stretch, but it all fit together into one muddled package. 

“Suicide Squad” can’t even manage that. I couldn’t truly care about any one character. Their motivations seemed to flip on a whim as soon as some unknown force crawled out of the woodwork and turned events on their heads. It seemed like some scenes were accidentally placed in the wrong spot, upending the story’s pacing and confusing the audience. 

And that sets the tone for the whole movie. It’s a muddled mess that focuses on style over substance to such an extent that it becomes two straight hours of style, and when that falters in the third act the movie simply devolves into a poor summer blockbuster. 

We all want more from DC. Their most recent offerings have left a lot to be desired, but the building blocks are there, even if the studio doesn’t seem to know how to stack them. But “Wonder Woman” and “Justice League” both look promising and hopefully will redeem DC Comics, proving that their characters deserve to live on the big screen. 

Matthew Herst is a Carleton University communications student, video game journalist and’s resident geek writer. Yeah, this guy love’s video games. Besides, you can also find his work on Follow him on Twitter @supergurst. 


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