Oh, man. Okay.
First, some mild housekeeping for those confused: DC has finally gotten its act together and started their own shared universe series a la the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
This sequence of movies starts with the depressing “Man of Steel,” and continues with the even more depressing looking “Batman v Superman.” From now on, all of the movies take place in the same universe. (The DC TV shows such as “Flash,” “Arrow” and really enjoyable “Supergirl,” and the DC movies are taking place in a different universe.)
The third installment in the DC Extended Universe is “Suicide Squad” directed by David Ayer (writer of “Training Day,” writer/director of “Fury”).
Though there may be a little bit of rave-o-licious green and some cool icons in the posters, “Suicide Squad” still has the muted palette and very serious demeanor of “Man of Steel.” As for a sense of wonder, forget about it.
Nope, from Boomerang (Jai Courtney) in solitary to the invisible voices that may or may not be yacking to Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie) to El Diablo (Jay Hernandez), a fire user being hit with a whole bunch of water, and the Joker (Jared Leto) looking like he owns a whole lot of Korn and Disturbed albums, this “Suicide Squad” looks like, well, the Dirty Dozen with a few superpowers and more Hot Topic.
There are a few bright (as it were) spots. Amanda Waller was one of the coolest characters ever created, not the least of which was because she looked like this and was perfectly capable of going toe to toe with Batman and not blinking. (These days she looks like this, which is DC editorial’s cross to bear.) She is being played by Viola Davis, about which I am in no way mad. (Though I was holding out for C.C.H. Pounder.)
And casting Will Smith as Deadshot. one of the all-time great Batman villains, is a cool idea. Smith is a charismatic fellow, and man, could this movie use some.
In theory, grim ‘n’ gritty is appropriate for something called “Suicide Squad.” The 66-issue original run of the book, written by the great John Ostrander, was one of the best superhero comics of the 1980s — smart, action-packed, well-characterized. It was a brilliant way to revive third-string characters (such as Deadshot and Boomerang).
But this just looks…trashy and depressing. And not trashy in the fun John Water/Russ Meyers way. Trashy in a nu-metal video, torture porn kind of way. All the colors are dark and drab, nobody looks happy to be there, not even Robbie and Leto can sell their lunacy all that well.
Look, I could be dead wrong. I would love to be dead wrong. “Suicide Squad,” the movie, could be brilliant. It could be the witty, vibrant comic book movie of our dreams. The fact that this has brought vintage Suicide Squad comics back into print is a fantastic thing. Those comics are a blast — colorful and fun and weird.
This movie looks like none of those things.