Sometimes in this business you can wait and wait for a film to come along, put up with its endless increasingly irritating hype machine, it's boring glorified stories of actorly obsession, on-set rumours, more and more hype until finally you get to see the film and it surprises you to the point it makes you reconsider every thing you ever knew, believed you wanted from the moving image.
Other times you decide that you have a stinker on its way and when it arrives critics have long made their minds up and long decided to give it a good ole pummelling.
Suicide Squad falls into the latter category, like one of those flying ants that lives for one day during summer, it didn't have a chance. Directed by David Ayer, who wrote the Denzel Washington starring and Oscar-winning Training Day and directed critically well received films Harsh Times and End of Watch, this film showcases the inevitable results when a production is interfered with, rushed and cut to pieces in the edit suite until nobody involved has a clue what they were trying to make in the first place.
Production companies have been rushing these big budget summer films through production to the detriment of the finished product, the executives initially seem to want to trust the directors and writers but then decide that 'no', they know best and fiddle around with the picture themselves and you end up with the sort of films we saw with Batman V Superman.
Films that seemingly don't know who or what they are supposed to be. How you can spend $200 million and maybe the same again on marketing ( a clue to the problem already there) and a film ends up as stodgy and confused as these blockbusters often do, is anybodies guess.
DC comics have form here. They have been trying vainly for quite some time now to catch up with the critical and box office success the Marvel Comic house has enjoyed over the last decade or so with little to no luck.
When I say little to no luck I am referring to the former part of that sentence. DC may be struggling to garner the sort of reviews they would wish with any of their recent films: Superman, Batman V Superman and now Suicide Squad but they have certainly not been struggling at the box office. Despite these films being hammered by critics, audiences are still flocking to them like its an 'Audience with the Pope' back when the pope was more famous than Jesus.
There are likely many reasons for this. A large proportion of the target audience for these films just don't bother with film criticism. Like reading books not screens this is just not a part of their world, and it is their world, the kids that grew up in the broadband age don't give two hoots what people like Donald Clarke, Peter Bradshaw and I think. Ok they probably care more about what the first two esteemed critics think than poor little me, but negative reviews are no longer putting mass audiences off films.
There are obvious positives and negatives inherent in this development. It could mean that the big production houses decide that critical reception is no longer the driver of box office success, that the two are no longer linked as they once were, it would seem this would be a correct assumption.
This could lead to more fan aimed work where these films are made for and by a specific mass audience. The public gets what the public wants. Critics seem unable to sink turkeys like they once had the power to do. In fact when the whole Batman V Superman farrago was playing out some critics actually received threats from fans who felt these people were stepping into and onto a world which was not made for them.
Batman V Superman got a serious battering from critics, nothing like the endless battering the two heroes dished out to each other in the film for 15 hours, but a battering none the less. Did this stop audiences from rushing to see it? Did it hell. If anything it brought a very angry comic book family out in force to not only prove these critics wrong but attempt to take the control of the so-called 'taste makers' off them.
The generation which came after my own and the ones since probably don't read film reviews like I used to growing up. Why should they? There is something satisfying about the canon being made redundant. I remember when I was doing my masters in film, several moons ago, and being increasingly bored with the so called classics that I was told where the best of the best.
More so than the idea of the canon which is to be fair, far from being without merit and is a great barometer of the great achievements in the medium, was the distasteful snobbery inherent in the dismissal of work which was not deemed to reach the high standards the same critics themselves have decided are the great films. It took me years to finally watch the work of Bergman because I had been told by so long by "those who know better" that I should be watching him so I chose not to. Feck 'em. (Which is a pity because when I did bother watching his work it changed everything for me.)
In many cases, much like Suicide Squad, the films aren't aimed at the critics who clearly don't understand them or pretend to. Suicide Squad while not being a great film and maybe even not being a good film is also not a film aimed at me. It has already broken records for opening weekend receipts in North America and under 18's have been granting it a score of A + when polled, though this rating plummets as you move up in age demographics.
We might be entering a new era when films like this become self contained bubbles, created for their specific audience which is huge enough to help the film weather any critical storms the old guardians of taste can throw at it.
Besides Suicide Squad is a better film than Batman V Superman and it does have two strong performances from its two female leads, Margot Robbies and Viola Davis'. (I will ignore the usual and repugnant sexualising of Robbie for now as that is another argument.) Peter Bradshaw in the Guardian newspaper was one of the few who gave it a good review though Donald Clarke in the Irish Times was also surprisingly generous in his.
Anywho if I was to give this film a bad review what would be achieved? Nothing but more negativity and that's something nobody needs. So in my good mood today I'll leave the stars blank for this film and anyone who goes see it can award it there own review. In the digital age we are all critics now. Call it democratisation, call it revolution, call it an uprising but whatever you do don't say it's rubbish.
_ out of 5