It appears the world has gone somewhat mad after the trailer for David Ayer’s Suicide Squad debuted at Comic-Con, however there are still few of us left feeling rather apprehensive.
I’m trying to convince myself that I wasn’t the only one to watch the trailer for Suicide Squad and think “what the fuck was that rubbish?”. Seriously, I know people have been waiting a long time for this and it has comic book nerds fainting worldwide every time a new photo is released online, but I was honestly expecting a lot more.
The premise of the film is something that I do not have any problems with, it actually sounds like it could be rather interesting, but the delivery as of yet looks as though it’s going to make quite a dull film. I don’t know, I’m just never really taken in when a trailer tried to ram as much action down my throat as possible and convince me that it’s going to be a thrilling experience. In the case of this trailer I gave a heavy sigh as soon as I realised it was a trailer that was going to consist of quiet “emotional” music with intercut scenes of action, with infrequent voice overs from mysterious characters.
What we have to consider is the person who is at the helm of this project, Mr David Ayer. Now I’m not about to completely dissect his back catalogue because he has been involved in some good films in the past. Most notably I did like Fury just recently, and Training Day still stands as something of a guilty pleasure for me, so he is a man that does have the potential to make good films. The person who wrote the line “king kong aint got shit on me!” deserves at least some credit. However, I do have to question someone whose back catalogue also contains S.W.A.T, End of Watch and the starting point of the franchise we have all come to know and dislike: The Fast and Furious. It is films such as those that make me question how this project is going to turn out, not just because he is the director but because he is writing it too. I think if you’re going to have a project as big as this being made, with high expectations from cinema goers all over the world, it would at least be wise to place it in the hands of someone we trust a little more. I don’t want to sound like a culture fascist, but we are living in a world where filmmakers such as Christopher Nolan are working so hard to radically reinvent the action genre and change it for the better, the result of which is our expectations being raised considerably.
This leads me onto the next element of the film that makes me feel uneasy: the cast. It is all over the place. You have a few big names thrown in there to make us think “oh they’re in it! nice!” but then the rest are just people that make you think “who?” and that’s a problem considering the fact it’s quite a big film that has a lot of people’s attention. I’m already questioning why certain people are in it, but it’s in two different ways. For example the first would be for people such as Jai Courtney, the ones I am questioning for being in it because as of yet their acting capabilities have been shown as rather limited. The second applies to people such as Margot Robbie and Will Smith, the ones I am questioning for being in the film because surely they have better things to be doing with their time than attaching their name to a project such as this (hence my rather smug altering of the title as shown above). From the trailer the performances appear to be quite varied, ranging from the cliched to the hopeful, which again makes me feel quite on edge. When dealing with big villain names we are all familiar with there needs to be some consistency.
What I also found quite interesting about the cast is how Ben Affleck is listed as playing Batman, having been announced to play this character in the upcoming Zack Snyder project Batman v Superman next year. I am still intrigued by this, not only because people are still finding it hard to forgive Affleck twelve years on from Daredevil, but also because we haven’t even seen him in one film as Batman yet. So why then would you sign him up to do multiple films as this character before you have feedback from the audience? It’s what my old sociologist teacher would call the “test drive”: you wouldn’t buy a car without testing it first, so in this case you wouldn’t sign an actor to a role for multiple films without testing them first. I think if anything this would be the first film I’d sign them up for because Batman is something of a secondary character here, with the focus shifting more onto the villains, but plans have already gone ahead and it’s still going to result in me being pissed off. Hooray.
The only character that is looking promising at the moment is Harley Quinn, and that is because they have cast the fantastic Margot Robbie to play her. It’s the first time that the character has been brought properly to the big screen, and already it looks as though Robbie has mastered the beautiful chaotic nature of her character. I admit the character has been altered aesthetically for the modern audience, but it still looks as though the mannerisms and the voice of Robbie’s Harley Quinn are really going to bring this character alive on screen. It has been a long time coming but finally we are not only going to see this character on screen, but we’re going to see them at their best. I truly believe it is performances such as Robbies’ that could work in this film’s favour. I can only hope that as the writer and director Ayer has utilised Robbie’s talents properly.
The main problem I have with the cast, and I am not alone in saying this, is the utterly absurd decision to cast Jared Leto as The Joker. Now people have flocked to the internet to moan about how the appearance of The Joker isn’t right and it doesn’t look good, but quite frankly I couldn’t care less about that because that is the least of our troubles. What concerns me is that Leto is not a good enough actor to take over the role of The Joker. We’ve already had acting heavyweights play the role brilliantly, including Heath Ledger in what is essentially one of the best acting performances of all time, so why would they choose to pass on such a complex character to someone who has barely proven himself as an actor? The thing is I care about the character of The Joker, he is one that I have been fascinated with from a very young age, starting with Jack Nicholson in Burton’s Batman and Mark Hamill’s voice work for animated projects, it is a character that means a lot to me. I do not want to see this character ruined by someone as flimsy and annoying as Jared Leto.
If you have seen the trailer then all you will see of Leto is that he is trying to sound like Heath Ledger’s Joker, and failing quite badly. I think with The Joker he does have quite a distinct voice and laugh but there is of course free roam for the actor playing him to adapt their own take on it, and this is what we would expect. With Leto is just sounds like he is recycling previous incarnations we have seen of The Joker, he doesn’t appear to be bringing anything new or noteworthy to the role. It doesn’t look as though the character is right for him at all and at the moment I’m not buying into this idea of him being The Joker. It’s funny because when it comes to comic books films you’ll quite often find on Youtube that many fanboys, prior to the release of a film, have made “unofficial trailers” which usually consist of rehashed footage from existing films along with footage they have shot of themselves in fancy dress in their bedrooms. They’re usually very poorly acted and give us all a good laugh. That is what Jared Leto’s appearance in this trailer felt like. As soon as I saw him on screen and heard him talking, it just felt like I was watching an “unofficial trailer” shot by and starring a teenager who is currently experimenting with a new camera as part of their creative media course at college. It didn’t frighten me, it didn’t excite me, it didn’t grab my attention in the slightest. All it made me do is think “I told you so”.
However, I can’t possibly pass too heavy a judgement on the film having not seen it. I would like to make it clear that I am not forming an opinion on the film based solely on the trailer. Just because the trailer isn’t particularly impressive and I don’t like the director that doesn’t mean to say that the film won’t be good. I honestly want it to be good, I want it to be the sort of film that proves me completely wrong. There’s a common misapprehension that film fanatics and film critics like being right all of the time WRONG! One of the best things is being proven wrong. When you have a predisposition and expect a film to be bad it is the best experience to find that actually you were wrong and it is a fantastic film. That’s what I want to happen here.
Overall I would say I’m quite apathetic at the moment. What I see and know of the film as of yet have not grasped my attention enough as I perhaps would have liked, but that does not mean to say it will be bad. I genuinely want this film to work and for it to be a good film because I love the concept and I love the characters so it would make me a very happy man if they nail. Quite often people accuse me of being too bitter and only wanting to write about bad film, but actually I much prefer writing about about good films. It’s too easy to find rubbish films and have a rant about them, and quickly people become bored of reading it, but when you manage to find a genuinely good film that you can write about and praise, that’s something special. I am hoping that Suicide Squad pulls it off and makes me eat humble pie, so watch this space a year from now and see whether or not Ayer has succeeded.