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Sunday, August 07, 2016

5 ways to fix 'Suicide Squad,' from its villain to its PG-13 rating

Oyetoke Tobi - Sunday, August 07, 2016

It's littered with problems big and small, but the cast is strong — it's possible to build a good DC movie around that group of actors. With that in mind, let's take a look under the hood and see how to repair this broken-down blockbuster.

1. Make the Joker the villain



Refreshing though it was to see iconic characters Batman and the Joker in supporting roles, employing Jared Leto so sparingly after marketing the film around him is a major tactical error.Suicide Squad should’ve been about a team of villains teaming up to take on a supervillain, the biggest baddie of them all — the Joker. No one walks into this movie caring at all about supernatural witch Enchantress and her lame CGI brother Incubus, neither of whom are intimidating or half as fun as Mr. J.

Here's an idea: Open Suicide Squad open with a shootout between Amanda Waller and the Joker. She has plenty of backup but can only stand by and watch helplessly as her colleagues are shot down by the Joker and his crew, who are prepared for every move she makes. Waller realizes that the Joker is no mere hood, he's a criminal mastermind. That's when she turns to the Squad, who use Harley Quinn as bait — who is obviously very conflicted, piling tension on her even as the group questions her allegiance.

As it stands, the film jumps right into the introductions, then immediately puts them into action. It's unclear why Waller has turned to a seemingly last resort. Meanwhile, the Joker is barely integrated into the plot during his 10-15 minutes of screentime (depending on whether his text messages count).

2. We need different stakes



When saving the world is this formulaic and generic, who cares?

The movie either needed more personal stakes (see: Civil War), or at least an innocent character to put a face on humanity. Midway City has been evacuated by the time our heroes arrive, and all remaining people have been turned into ashy rock zombies — once again, the heroes are just battling some barely-known villain’s foot soldiers.

There are other ways to raise the stakes, including making a bigger deal out of the clumsy reveal that Amanda Waller is the target of the Squad's second-act mission. That odd half-twist arrives several beats too early, leaving the character hanging in the third act. It would've had greater impact later in the film, possibly even as the big reveal.

Imagine: The Squad is finally called in, they've been battered nearly to death by the Joker's twisted traps and decptions and it turns out that the whole time they were saving their captor! That's downright Nolan-esque.

3. Call the Ghostbusters, because the supernatural stuff has gotta go



Metahumans like Killer Croc and El Diablo are one thing, but Enchantress is another beast altogether.

An ancient witch who possesses a young archaeologist and sets out to create a machine to destroy mankind because of its reliance on machines, she's the kind of boring villain who should’ve been flagged at the development stage.

The same goes for her supernatural army of foot soldiers who exist simply to give the Squad a chance to show off its killing skills. That's before we get to Enchantress' brother, Incubus — a character comprised of Lawnmower Man-era CGI who looks like something out of another terrible comic book movie called Spawn. 

4. Embrace the dark tone and make the film R-rated



IMAGE: CLAY ENOS

Writer-director David Ayer can't seem to settle on what kind of movie he wants to make.

The material is naturally dark — hell, the word 'suicide' is in the title! — and yet it appears that Warner Bros. was eager to soften the tone in an effort to make the movie more "fun" for general audiences. Had the studio embraced the nature of the movie and gone for an R-rating, perhapsSuicide Squad would've been received like 20th Century Fox's raunchy Deadpool, which grossed nearly $800 million despite costing one-third of Suicide Squad and having a more restrictive rating.

Speaking of which, this PG-13 cut of Suicide Squad clearly indicates several editing room battles, as there are huge leaps in logic. The lesson is that if you’re going to go dark, commit to an identity and go dark!

5. Enough with the music cues



IMAGE: CLAY ENOS

There are 23 songs featured in Suicide Squad. That number should be cut in half, and then half of the songs that are left should've been swapped out, because they were way too on the nose. Only a handful work, and the rest are distracting and obnoxious.

6. Cut Slipknot, Batman and the Flash — and use Katana more




IMAGE: CLAY ENOS

First of all, don't expect us to care about Slipknot, who was the only Squad member not to receive a proper introduction — not that it matters, since those intro cards disappear quickly and so does he. Really, what's the point?

Next, cameos from Batman and the Flash only make you want to spend more time with them, not the grim Squad at the center of this story.

Finally, Ayer should've given Katana more to do. After all, she has a soul-sucking sword, so it seems like it might be a good idea.

7. Wait for Tom Hardy next time



IMAGE: COURTESY OF WARNER BROS. PICTURES

Hardy was originally cast as Squad leader Rick Flag, but a scheduling issue forced him to bow out. It was also rumored that he wanted Flag's role beefed up.

Listen, if you have Tom Hardy's interest and all you have to do is give him a hero moment and a monologue, you do it. I would've put this movie on hold for six months if it meant having Hardy call the shots.

8. Cut Harley Quinn's suburban fantasy sequence and make the characters more generally consistent




IMAGE: CLAY ENOS

It's hard to keep track how many times a character in Suicide Squad says or does one thing, only to immediately say or do the complete opposite just moments later. (I'm looking at you, Amanda Waller and Captain Boomerang!)

As for Harley Quinn, are she and the Joker truly the king and queen of Gotham City, or does she secretly yearn to shed her life of crime and start a family as Mrs. J? The movie can't have it both ways despite Ayer's stubborn insistence to the contrary.

9. Change the title to Harley & Floyd




IMAGE: CLAY ENOS

At least it’s more honest, since let's face it, Ayer is more concerned with his marquee stars Will Smith and Margot Robbie than a balanced ensemble. Meanwhile, China apparently doesn’t like the word "suicide," so perhaps this would help it get distribution in that prized box office territory.

10. Do better by Killer Croc — starting with that 'BET' line





IMAGE: CLAY ENOS

It may be a well-intended joke, but it ends Killer Croc's story on a sour note. Can’t we give him something else at the end, like a homecooked meal? Not that I know what a half-crocodile/half-man might eat. But anything would be better than that shallow attempt at humor.


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