The Art of Editing and Suicide Squad

Let’s do this. [theme music] I didn’t get out to nearly as many films this year as I would have liked. And many of the films I did see just kind of… ran right through me. Well, so, ‘Under the Shadow’ was a really good, really effective horror-thriller. Um.. ‘Lace Crater’ was an inventive, personal drama with a supernatural twist. ‘Nuts!’ was a clever documentary about quack doctors Um.. ‘Arrival’! ‘Arrival’ was another good personal drama with a supernatural twist. Uh.. I enjoyed ‘Deadpool,’ And-and ‘Rogue One.’ Uh, ‘Kubo’ ‘Zootopia’ ‘Finding Dory’ Uh Oh! I actually really liked ’10 Cloverfield Lane,’ – ending and all! So. I mean- There were a lot of good films this year There were a lot of, y’know, niche genre films and some broad stuff but i mean Overall just… y’know “That is a three-syllable word for any thought too big for little minds.” “Save… …Martha…” My original plan was to talk about a cross-section of some of the worst editing that I saw this year because my LORD Editing is going down the crapper these days So I lined up a few films to showcase some of the particular trends in the ways that films are being cut these days Uh ‘Gods of Egypt’ for its bad action, ‘Ms. Peregrines Home for Peculiar Children’ for its poor dialogue cutting ‘Batman v. Superman’ for its awful, awful just- plot construction But…no. ‘Suicide Squad’ It was just- It was-it was shockingly awful That’s how I described Suicide Squad when I came out of the theatre The editing was SHOCKINGLY awful in every way. See, ‘Gods of Egypt’ has generically mediocre action and overall flow The focus in many scenes doesn’t really go anywhere, the camera often just floats around, moving without purpose or intent and there’s a few…egregious, specific cuts in the movie. [panicked noises] [roars] [panicked noises] ‘Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children’ is a generally enjoyable film with some charm, But it’s marred by some really, really bad dialogue editing, where there’s no tension or flow to the dialogue, and there’s zero breathing room between scenes. It isn’t a pervasive problem but it happens a lot throughout the movie. Taken as a whole, it’s a problem of over-tightening the film with a scattering of just bad, aimless edits. “I’m sorry buddy, I know how much you worshipped him, but there it is.” ‘Batman v. Superman’… is its… …It’s own can of worms “MARTHA” The first thing that needs to be acknowledged about Suicide Squad is its troubled development. The specifics are hard to nail down because the people who actually know aren’t going to say what happened because they either need to play nice for the sake of their careers, or they’re contractually restricted from ever mentioning it. But here’s what we know: David Ayer had only 6 weeks to bash out the script and then shot about 230 hours worth of footage Basically trying to find the movie in the process of shooting it. At some point, Warner Brothers hires Trailer Park- -The team that cut ‘The Queen’ trailer back in January- -to do an alternate cut of the film, and test-screens both of them However, audiences still didn’t particularly like either cut, So a very expensive round of reshoots was scheduled for April, May, and a compromised THIRD cut – -based principally on Ayer’s version merged with the reshoots, and some ideas lifted from the Trailer Park cut -is screened for audiences in June, with something fundamentally the same released to theaters in August. The result is more or less what you think it would be from that description. We’re mainly going to be focusing, but not exclusively, on the film’s bad editing. To really get into this, first, a primer When people say a movie has “bad editing” they’re going to be mainly talking about two different kinds of editing: Shot-to-shot and scene-to-scene Or Momentary editing, And Structural Editing Momentary editing is the nitty-gritty editing: What kinds of cuts are used, where are they placed, how far apart are they spaced, and how well is continuity preserved. Does a match edit actually work? Does intercut dialogue feel right? Can we follow the action properly? And so on and so forth. Structural editng is the bigger picture: What order are scenes in, how is the movie as a whole paced, when are flashbacks inserted, Are locations and geography properly established, are foreshadowing and callbacks properly implemented, and…all of that. Man of Steel is a good example for illustrating the difference The Momentary editing in Man of Steel is generally okay, The editing problems are all structural; with the flow from scene to scene being really poorly executed. Ideas and themes are abandoned, or strung out in the wrong order And the overall package is really poorly paced. In equal measure, The Last Airbender is a great example of bad momentary editing. With lots of poorly selected cuts, bad reverse shots, and just a lot of terrible decisions all around. Suicide Squad, likewise, is so full of problems from structural to momentary, that I would seriously advise anyone with an interest in the art of cinematic editing do their own full autopsy to see just how much went wrong and plain old doesn’t work. Now whenever a studio starts to meld with a film, there’s an instinctive response, a desire for a clean narrative that casts one side as the villains and the other as either the heroes or victims The evil, greedy, heartless corporation beating up on the poor, misunderstood, visionary artist. Now there have been a few times in history where a potentially great film was ruined by a studio that either didn’t get it or maybe an executive had a personal beef with the director, or just something else happened that led to a chain of bad decisions. Most of the time, though, the underlying movie wasn’t that good to begin with. Notoriously, Sony meddled heavily with Josh Trank’s 2015 Fantastic Four film, Fanfourstic, ordering a round of heavy reshoots that, as a result of Kate Mara’s awful wig, stand out like a sore thumb The problem is that if you actually look at Fan4stic as a whole, the stuff that wasn’t reshot isn’t that good either. Trank’s cut of the film was likely better in the sense that it was more cohesive, but it wasn’t a lost masterpiece. From Sony’s perspective, they had a worst-case scenario on their hands: Something that was neither broadly marketable, nor particularly good on its own merits. And this is the situation that Suicide Squad was almost certainly sitting in. The unfocused production resulting in a movie too grim and moody for mass appeal, while being too…loose and meandering to draw an audience through critical acclaim and positive word of mouth. Like Fan4stic, The earlier cuts of the film were likely more coherent, but would’ve been paced even worse and still plagued with various plot incoherencies. So there’s an element in Suicide Squad It-it’s a tiny thing An insignificant thing in the scope of it all, but I’m going to start with it because it’s emblematic of the kind of problems that the movie has as a pretty direct result of it’s chaotic development. There’s this really old standby rule in screenwriting: The Rule of Threes: You set up an idea, you remind the audience, then you pay it off It’s a rule because it’s a really effective way of keeping the audience informed about smaller details that the characters would be familiar with so that when they come into play, they don’t feel like they’re coming out of nowhere. So it really stands out when Suicide Squad manages to screw it up even though they were sort-of clearly using it? Alright: Captain Boomerang has this pink unicorn It’s first introduced as a gag during his titlecard where it flashes, “Fetish: Pink Unicorns” Leaving aside the sexual implications, during the gearing up segments, he pulls a pink unicorn stuffed animal out of his duffel bag and covertly tucks it inside his jacket. So that right there is the setup We’re shown a prop, and we’re shown exactly where it’s put: Inside his jacket, left side. It’s a very deliberate action. Moving forward to the first big action scene, Boomerang gets knocked around a bit, fights a bit, and the stuffie flies out of his jacket during the melee. And afterwards, he again, covertly stuffs it into his jacket, left side Again, super deliberate. There’s the reminder. Then, in the tower brawl, Captain Boomerang is wrestling with a tar monster who stabs him right in the heart And, for a second, you go “Oh no!” But, being a savvy and attentive viewer, you immediately go “Ah, wait! The unicorn.” And you pat yourself on the back as Boomerang pulls out the knife… …stuck in a wad of money. The unicorn, incidentally, is never seen again after the reminder. Now, the apologetic reaction is to assume that this is intentional. That it’s deliberate misdirection, a subversion of expectations. You’re expecting the unicorn, but are surprised when it’s not the unicorn. However, if you were trying to subvert the expectation, you would still want to show the unicorn at the moment of subversion So, what happened? Well, maybe the unicorn was orignally a wad of bills, but one day Jai Courtney decided a unicorn was funnier, but they’d already shot the office brawl a month earlier and no one caught it in the chaos. Well maybe there was a payoff for the unicorn but it hit the cutting room floor. Well maybe the unicorn was never meant to pay off, and the wad of cash was better established, but later edits biased towards the unicorn because its funnier, and establishing the cash hit the cutting room floor. Like, maybe amidst Boomerang’s looting he finds the cash and stashes it in his vest or something but we never saw that in the finished cut. Either way, it’s a pretty bad edit for something really minor And it’s a microcosm of the problems with this film: How the edit does a poor job of keeping track of all the balls that are in the air, how it foreshadows things that never pay off, and how its plagued with extraneous elements that exist only as set up for future films. Swinging to the other end of the spectrum is an element that the movie actually does establish well and clearly, and then just ruins. So the antagonist of the movie is ‘The Enchantress’ An ancient witch who’s weakness is her heart: this wicker-looking thing that Waller keeps in a box strapped to a bomb So we’re told about the heart, “Some say the witch has a secret buried heart, and whoever finds it can control the witch.” Then the functionality of the heart is demonstrated [screams] Then it’s reinforced, [speaks foreign language] [foreign language] It’s the raising of the stakes when Enchantress gets her heart back And going into the final fight, Rick Flag lays out the plan: “You got a move here Flagg?” “We gotta cut her heart out!” And just in case you weren’t aware of the jeopardy, the visual design of Enchantress reminds you constantly by giving her a visibly glowing green heart. This is, at this point, INCREDIBLY well-established It’s the single best established rule of the films fiction If there were anything in this movie, that you could feel 100% confident trusting the audience to follow along in a chaotic moment, this is it: The Enchantress’ weakness is her heart. And then THIS happens “You messed with my friends!” “Her hearts out, we can end this!” “Her heart’s out, we can end this!” [distorted] “HER HEARTS OUT” So all the momentum, both emotional and kinetic, the flow of action across the screen is stopped dead, So that Flagg can reexplain what’s going on. Then, just to keep it awful, the edit completely loses track of where Enchantress is. She doesn’t come back onscreen until this super-close -up shot that does nothing to help orient where she is in the room, We cut before she fell down, so from the point of view of the rest of these slow-mo shots, she just kind-of…vanishes and Harley, who was standing right next to her, isn’t anymore And, just.. Okay? Oh, and then the heart! Harley pulls the heart out with her hand, Rips it right out, full-fist! And then it’s just -poof!- gone until Boomerang picks it up under a bench after everything’s over Normally a detail like that wouldn’t matter, except it’s the object that the jeopardy revolves around. Now editing is a process of decision making. What do you show? What do you NOT show? And it’s often a zero-sum game, with huge opportunity-costs because you’re working within relatively small chunks of time in order to communicate everything vital while still managing making the timing feel – and here’s a big word: verisimilitudinous. That doesn’t mean real, That means a plausible simulation of real You know it’s fake, but it feels acceptable. You can buy in, you can suspend disbelief. So, that opportunity cost, they either didn’t shoot or chose to cut Enchantress falling down, Harley throwing away the heart – Anything that would help keep track of the action, but… they included a re-explanation of the one thing the audience should thoroughly understand. [distorted] HER HEARTS OUT That right there, is bad editing. Alright, so this one is just a singularly awful edit. “-games with you man. It’s not real!” “He’s right. It’s not real.” There’s no motion to lead into the cut, We’re focused on the wrong character leading into the cut, And the crew is already way too far into the action on the far side of the cut. In a moment where they’re trying to build up momentum and action, they end up skipping too much time and space The difference between the two sides of the edit are too discontinuous, making the edit feel jarring in a moment where it should feel fluid. This is honestly the kind of edit you’d expect to see from a mediocre film student, or, well. A trailer house. Speaking of things that feel like they should be cut by a trailer house the opening seconds of a movie are so critical. I mean – I-I shouldn’t even need to explain that There’s a littany of terrible movies out there that at least managed to get their opening few seconds right, And Suicide Squad doesn’t even manage that. The opening shots of the film live in the void between punchy, fast-paced cuts and slow, deliberate cuts. They don’t hang out long enough for you to really take in what they’re trying to tell you, but they’re not fast enough to blur together into a single conceptual image. This is a problem that’s aggravated by the fact that the movie throws up a lot of hard-to-read-text in the first few seconds Like, let’s look at this opening shot: This is actually an example of how a bunch of good ideas can be layered together to create a single bad idea This transition is really three different transitions that, combined, turn the opening seconds into visual soup. We transition into the shot through the slit in the rotating DC Comics logo, so right off the bat we got lines all pulling our focus right to the horizon. which… works with the first frames being the dark blob of terrain in the middle of the shot. because on TOP of that transition we also have a focus racks. so it actually takes a handful of frames for things to snap into focus for your eyes can really grab something. And then, on top of that, is this surreal, neon-color grade, which, itself, takes a few more frames to transition into the awful shades of concrete that is the films’ normal color grade. So that’s a really visually busy first two seconds. And, in the midst of that, they toss up location titles in the lower right. And, before you have a chance to read it – -because your eyes were almost certainly focused on this tower and these two white balls as the primary objects of interest in the frame- -the camera starts flying over dark grass. So, now you have black text in a hard-to-read font flying over noisy, dark, dark, green grass, And then it’s gone because we immediately cut to this: Now, your eyes, which were down in the lower right, trying to read the location, are first going to reset to the middle of the frame Both out of instinct, and because there’s a skull, and the brain is hard-wired to seek faces. Next priority is all the text, but first a truck drives in front of everything, Then soldiers walk past the camera, then you actually get a chance to read, and around the time that you’re getting frustrated by this half-demolished word, we cut into the guard post. And you’ve got about two seconds to absorb any pertinent information, before we cut to inside Deadshot’s cell. And it was at this point I knew I was in for an editing nightmare. There’s a phenomenon in film called ‘The Kuleshov Effect,’ which we could talk about in length but the underlying idea is that more meaning is created from the interaction of two shots than of a single shot in isolation. We can already see this in the movie: We start flying over the water towards the compound, and then cut to the writing on the wall, and assume that this wall is a detail of the building from the previous shot. And then we cut to the guard room, which we assume is inside the building we were just looking at, and then it falls apart, in a very small way when we go inside the cell. This guard is sitting here, watching these monitors We’re instinctively going to follow, or try to follow this person’s eyeline. But, rather than cutting to an angle that reflect’s the guard’s perspective via the security cameras, we’re instead much lower to the ground, looking up at Deadshot working his punching bag. It’s a cut that’s….technically correct, in that we’re moving deeper into the facility with each cut But, it’s off. It’s the cinematic version of putting the emfases on the wrong sillabbles. And here’s the thing: they use this exact technique that I’m describing in reverse when the next scene with Harley ends. Heck, they use it again at the end of the movie They’re clearly not trying out some methodical avant-garde style of editing, It’s – it’s just bad. So the first 20 minutes of the film are consumed by a bad musical montage It’s also highly redundant and full of dead ends Now Suicide Squad has a big cast – it’s an ensemble piece with like, eight core characters. It’s a lot of people to introduce with the added complexity of explaining what their comic book gimmick is, and maneuvering them into place within the plot. Further complicated by the fact that the underlying conceit of the film is that the cast are all antisocial villains working for the government more or less against their will. That’s a lot to set up. Now they introduce almost everyone with capsule sized flashbacks narrated by Waller, which…. …is a pretty bad way of introducing your protagonists Suicide Squad, like ogres, has layers, except in this case its layers of bad, awkward decisions. So the bad musical montage is bad because it’s cut like a movie trailer. It’s all sizzle at a time where the film should be busy establishing themes and conflict. As with many things we’ve already addressed, what they’re doing here isn’t 100 percent wrong, It’s not an idea that’s rotten to the core, it’s just incredibly inefficient. Cutting your opening for sizzle isn’t a bad idea until it’s gone on for 30 minutes and you’re just starting to get around to the actual plot. The original movie would’ve been much longer, and much slower paced but by cutting the introductions for sizzle, trying to turn it all into a high-energy peppy montage, that inefficiency stands out because they keep needing to come back to the introductions over and over again. To the point that halfway through the movie, they’re JUST finishing introducing the first four characters. So where a five to eight minute scene with Deadshot could easily fit in all the pertinent details plus some, trying to do it all in poppy trailer-style means that they need to keep coming back Which in turn means there’s no time for anyone else, putting the story in a place where the core conceit doesn’t work because they were only able to squeeze in negotiations with Deadshot and no one else. And I haven’t even addressed the soundtrack yet This trailer-style peppy montage relies heavily on pop music in the bluntest way possible. It’s a prison in Louisiana! ‘House of the Rising Sun’ by the Animals! Harley isn’t your plaything, ‘You Don’t Own Me,’ by Lesley Gore Amanda Waller is bad and she’s going to introduce a bunch of devils ‘Sympathy for the Devil!’ Harley’s a superfreak, so Let’s just play ‘Superfreak.’ An Aussie? Who does dirty deeds? ‘Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap.’ El Diablo lost control and he’s ♪ ‘Slippin into Darkness!’♪ Jesus, this writes itself. Killer Croc is unfortunate so, hey! ‘Fortunate Son!’ Will Smith is black and he shaved his head! ‘Black Skinhead!’ They’re assembling? Like an army? ‘Seven Nation Army’ They’re flying in a helicopter? ‘Spirit in the Sky!’ Like, any one of these on it’s own would be blunt, but appropriate. However, when it’s you’re one trick that you use over, and over again? Oh yeah, and that wasn’t even all of them. In fact, from the opening shot to the title card, it’s end to end. They’ve already used three different songs before the title even comes up. Baz Luhrmann has more restraint than this!! On repeat viewings, the first half of this movie becomes almost unbearable because you already know how it ends, so you spend the first 50 minutes sitting through numerous threads that you know don’t matter One of the most obvious is this guy, Griggs Griggs is one of the head guards at Belle Reve, And the first three minutes of the movie aren’t spent introducing us to Deadshot and Harley, they’re spent showing us just how awful Griggs is. Not Belle Reve, not being locked up in general, Griggs in specific. Now if they wanted him to be a bit of comic relief, that’s fine In fact, if there’s one thing that this movie actually really needed, it was a lot more…meh…antagonistic rapport between the squad and the rest of the world So our fist bit is this back and forth between Griggs and Deadshot which could’ve built up to that kind of a beat: Grigg ribs Deadshot, Deadshot ribbs back, they both laugh, call each other an asshole, walk away. Instead… Griggs has Deadshot beat with batons by a dozen guards. Next up is Harley – and it’s the same deal. This could be banter Antagonistic banter, but still banter. Instead, the scene cuts to a flashback of Griggs outright abusing and humiliating her. These are the opening scenes of the movie. This is the pace and tone being set. They’re clearly setting up a direct obvious antagonism between the squad and Griggs. Through that first 40 minutes they keep reinforcing that antagonism and upping the stakes: Foreshadowing future resolution to the point that Harley outright tells Griggs, “You’re SO screwed” “What do you mean by that?” [Harley laughs] “What do you mean by that?”
[Harley continues laughing] “Get off, me, get off!” “Harley what do you mean by that?!?” And…that’s the last we see of Griggs. He doesn’t even show up at the end of the movie when the squad are back in prison. Now, there’s a couple different problems going on here. The first is a scripting problem, Griggs was overdeveloped in the first half of the movie and then dropped. The second, is an editing problem. Because of that lack of payoff, Griggs should have been significantly trimmed down Well, there’s another scripting problem, which is that the staff at Belle Reve are so consistently absurdly abusive to the squad, that it strains the credulity when it comes to the plan of recruiting them to do missions. I mean, these aren’t people who are going to be cooperative and useful, because you’ve treated them like absolute garbage In turn, this doesn’t make Waller look like a master tactician Someone who is, as she claims, “the best at getting people to act against their own self-interests,” It-it just makes her look like an idiot. “Psychotic anti-social freaks – it makes no sense.” So a twist is a surprise subversion of the audience’s expectation. But, in order for a twist to work, expectations need to be established before they can be subverted. So there’s a twist in the middle of the movie where Boomerang tricks Slipknot into trying to escape and Flagg blows up the bomb in Slipknot’s neck The twist doesn’t work though because Slipknot was clearly introduced as disposable. Everyone else in this squad is introduced with the heavy-handed soundtrack choices, name cards, logos and a bio from Waller. It’s bad, but it still sets a precedent. So when Slipknot steps out of an SUV and gets a one-line introduction, “Here comes Slipknot, the man who can climb anything. Wonderful.”
[Seven Nation Army plays in the background] It’s a pretty clear tell to the audience that he’s not important and you shouldn’t care. So when he dies, it doesn’t mean anything. It’s…. Who cares? You were told not to care. I suppose we should take some time to talk about the actual antagonist of the film, Enchantress who’s possessing the body of June Moon, who’s in love with Rick Flagg. Now there’s a lot of problems here and this is going back to the underdeveloped script, I mean, the biggest that she’s being an absurdly powerful opponent for a team that should be busy doing…like, a heist or something I mean this speaks to the basic fiction of the movie, that Waller’s putting together a task force because…..what if, “What if Superman had decided to fly down, rip off the roof of the White House and grab the President of the United States right out of the Oval Office? Who would’ve stopped him?” But if that’s the case why is Captain Boomerang here? Or Harley Quinn? Or Killer Croc? Or Slipknot? Like, sure, Killer Croc is a big guy and he’s scary, and he can take a punch, but at the end of the day, he’s a linebacker with a skin condition. He’s not superhumanly strong, he’s just…regular strong. Boomerang isn’t even special. He’s just a thief with a gimmick. Harley? Harley is pure liability. Anyway-okay-So- Enchantress is introduced as part of the team, and then her powers demonstrated to the brass at the Pentagon, And then she more or less immediately betrays Waller and releases her brother in Midway City as part of her plan to escape But, at the same time, in between those points, And this is speaking directly to the poor structure, There’s the demonstration at the Pentagon, followed by a second montage of introductions to the Squad None of which move the plot forward at all because the parts where Waller and Flagg try to negotiate with Croc, Boomerang and Harley were all cut, And Diablo just tells them to piss off, so the only one they actually get to negotiate with is Deadshot. But, that doesn’t go anywhere either, because they then immediately ignore the entire conversation, so… Okay? The only one that tells us anything new is the conversation with Diablo. Which builds his character a bit, shows the audience that he’s basically at peace with his punishment, So that’s useful character development, even if the structure of the scene does nothing to progress the movie itself. Also, keeping in mind that the actual plot hasn’t started yet. Oh, also they bring June Moon to the prison and highlight her presence with a close-up reaction shot, as they arrive But she never interacts with any of the rest of the Squad, so when she goes rogue, no one on the team except Flagg has any emotional stake in the situation. Anyway, all of these largely pointless meetings culminate in Flagg telling Waller that it’s a dumb plan because they’re mostly worthless and their hostility just makes them a liability in any operation where loyalty would be an asset. Which is every operation ever. The scene ends with this ominous line where Flagg asks Waller what she’s really up to And Waller tells him “Its a need-to-know and all you need to know is you work for me.” Now, that’s actually important, because it tells the audience that she is, in fact, up to something. It’s foreshadowing a reveal. Waller has secret plans, that are at odds with the interests of either her bosses, or the Squad, or both. Don’t worry though, we don’t find out what they are. Because she doesn’t actually have secret plans. At least not as far as this movie is concerned. So…. Yeah? Then there’s a couple scenes with the Joker and he starts to orchestrate Harley’s break-out… And then we finally get the plot rolling with Enchantress releasing her brother in Midway City. And – oh yeah! Her brother! So, if this feels like it comes out of left field half an hour into the movie, that’s because it more or less comes out of left field a half hour into the movie. Now, prior to this, Enchantress’ brother Incubus is only mentioned in her title card which were all written by Trailer Park for comedy, and freeze-frame easter eggs for the home audience. Like, Flagg’s list his golf handicap. The point is these are jokes. The next glancing reference is Enchantress looking at this page, during the demonstration at the Pentagon. Except, when the camera is looking at this page, Waller is talking about Enchantress and telling the room “Everything we know about her is in your briefing packs.” So the relevance of this shot, that it represents some potential jeopardy, really isn’t clear until you’re already familiar with the plot. The visual difference, between what we’re being shown, and what we’ve been shown in the past is nominal. No one’s mentioned that there’s a second statue that poses a similar risk and Waller is summing up information that we’re already familiar with, All of the film’s signifiers are telling us that ‘this is old information, we don’t need to care.’ So, when Enchantress is snooping around Waller’s apartment and finds her brother’s statue sitting on the shelf like a tchotchke, It….comes out of nowhere. And this whole ‘betrayal’ culminates in one of the best worst moments in the movie. So, from the audience’s perspective, Incubus is wrecking Midway City and we know that Flagg knows that Enchantress was up to no good. He doesn’t know exactly what she did, but, presumably, he can put two and two together. Well, he clearly doesn’t, and he doesn’t even bother to tell his boss that maybe we can’t trust the witch right now, because she might be responsible But, anyway, putting that aside, Flagg and Moon are suddenly in the subway under Incubus, and he berates her into transforming, and.. [whispers] “Enchantress” “Flagg, talk to me, what’s going on down there?”
[phone rings] “Amanda, she bolted.” “Say it again?!” “She bolted!” Okay, so, this is an important moment: This is the moment that Flagg realizes he’s made a big mistake And it’s the moment that really kicks the plot into high gear, and instead of using that to build tension, Hard cut, and we learned what happened, Over the radio. A masterpiece of bad decisions. Coming back to the subject of twists, This movie actually has a twist, I guess? But… It’s bad. Surprise. After the squad finally gets assembled, at the midpoint of the movie, Waller gives them their mission, which is rescue HVT-1, which… I mean, wasn’t the whole point of Task Force X to throw them at metahumans that are wrecking stuff? “What if Superman had decided to fly down, rip off the roof of the White House, and grab the President of the United States right out of the Oval Office?” “NY City’s under attack. It’s nonhuman entity.” “I take it you know what to do, sir.” “Activate Task Force X. Get Amanda Waller and her whole circus on scene ASAP” Okay so that’s confusing in it’s own right but they eventually get to HVT-1 And it turns out it’s…Waller… She was in Midway City this whole time… So this is a twist that isn’t actually a twist because it’s pointless. Nothing changes by hiding that information, Nothing changes when you find out that Waller is the target. Waller being in the city doesn’t make sense in the first place, and..and then Waller kills her staff and says, “What? They weren’t cleared for any of this. Any of it.” Well, then-then who were they? What’s going on? Why are you here? Why were they here? What are you ACTUALLY doing? This is one of those moments that exists to try and surprise the audience, but it just raises more questions than it could ever answer And they’re bad questions, it’s not enticing questions it’s… …questions of confusion. There’s-there’s a lot more that I havent even touched on. Like how the Joker’s plot culdesac is used, How Harley’s story was gutted because it was an endless downer that still didn’t pay off How the wrap up doesn’t even mention that Diablo sacrificed himself for the squad, But instead I’ll just rattle those off in list form to give you the idea that they’re there. This, I think, is a pretty good vertical slice of the kind of editing problems that plague Suicide Squad from beginning to end. 2016. [bottle drops on floor] [slightly upbeat music]

Comments 100

  • "Harley? Harley is pure liability." ASJHSJSKAKAN I like Harley and that's completely accurate

  • I tried to watch this movie twice but I couldn't keep attention of anything and fell asleep

  • Diablo was severely underappreciated. I felt like his performance was on par with Harley, but it was really The Deadshot and Harley Show. And this is coming from a huge Harley fan. I loved that aspect of the movie, but it was so clearly unfair to the rest of the cast that it was distracting.

  • Me when the movie was being advertised "that's silly superman wouldnt ever kidnap the president. He's a good guy who just wants to help people."

    Trump gets elected "ok now it makes sense"

  • :/ save some cough syrup for the rest of us

  • Chekov's gun serves as an illustration here, as this movie's an inch away from a literal failure at it: Deadshot's introduction spends a few seconds lingering on his odd proficiency with the musket. That's not impressive enough to reiterate Deadshot's skill, and it's superfluous anyway if that's the intent. It's a solid set-up, though, for a later-act gag in some appropriate location: crack of a gunshot, threat falls, cut to Deadshot with a smoking musket. Never happens.

  • This is so late being a 2016 video on a 2018 idea in a 2019 comment. But your point on the heart on problem is done in the exact same way in avenger infinity war except good.

    Thanos does this particular motion with his hand to activate the gauntlet in the Titan planet fight, and doctor strange points this out to his cape (and the viewer) and now thanos has a weakness and we get the pay off as the whole team works together to execute it.

  • It must suck being a movie critic. Harder to gain enjoyment out of movies with flaws

  • The music was the biggest sin for me. Every track (while good) was so cliche and used in such an obtuse way, it felt like they were trying to sell a licensed music soundtrack than actually using music to set up scenes.

  • Thanks for actually going through how the movie played (or didn't play) on the back and forth between the viewer and what's happening on screen. Lots of good critique without going into cliche 'hur dur plot holes', or just jumping on common critiques just because you don't like it.

  • 1:25 big spicie plate of irony

  • Here for the 2 million milestone :D.

  • Rogue One with those memorable characters right?

  • congrats on 2 million

  • I have a very specific secondhand experience that popped in my head when you immediately started glugging that NyQuil and I laughed my fucking ass off.

  • Fun video, why are likes and dislikes off?

  • Celebrating 2M!

  • "Your eyes were almost certainly focused on this tower and these two white balls"
    ( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°)

  • You liked rouge one…. yikes

  • Rewatching this had the random though James Gun could technically possibly hire CCH Pounder to play waller in the the next one.

  • I know this video was about editing but I do really appreciate the story takedown at ~27 minutes in.

    This movie makes NO sense. Croc is a C-list Batman Villain whose abilities are "be a strong guy". Harley's got even less going for her and is a colossal liability. Diablo is powerful but has renounced violence… presumably something any sane person would encourage in a dangerous convict. Climbs-anything guy is worthless in a world where a guy can FLY. Literally none of them are up to the rhetorical goal of fighting "a superhero like Superman". Flagg is totally in the right when he says that this squad is a terrible idea… and so Wahler looks like a complete moron when she insists it goes ahead anyway.

    This movie should not exist even by comic-book logic. I'd have been 500% onboard with a Will Smith-as-Deadshot buddy-buddy movie with Flagg, where they do some black-ops together. I could have been into that. But the rest of the movie is arguing that the titular Squad is a terrible idea, and the plot reinforces it after one of the members goes immediately rogue, and then… it barely manages to come together to stop more damage from being caused by its own existence?

  • Baz Luhrman knocks back a shot and says, "Hold my beer."

  • Congrats on 2mil views

  • I always just assumed the intention was to imply that he loved the unicorn simply becayse if was stuffed with cash rather than some sentimental value like we all likely assumed

  • they needed to establish that the only macguffin function of the heart is to get removed from witch woman's chest(as opposed to like if they had to/could actually do something with it once it gets removed), at which point shooting the Old World-Generating Machine becomes "object that the jeopardy revolves around". do you really think this isn't abstract enough (especially by populist hollywood editing standards) to warrant a six word dialogue primer? also the disappearance of the enchantress in the edits is pretty self evident as it's cliche levels of awkward to repeatedly cut back to an antagonist recovering ground read: standing up(cuz that really is all the enchatress does in the slowmo-not-helping-things time it takes for harley to throw to deadshot, croc to throw, and deadshot to shoot) while a hero tries to use the delay to accomplish something very important(especially with the already forceful and out-of-nowhere score they used for this). you could say these are all base conceptual problems with the scene rather than the fault of editing. like there was just no way for anyone to make both kinetic AND sensible the rube goldberg of removing the heart, throwing the gun, shooting the grenades all in the time it takes for the antagonist to stand up straight.

  • Aw, I can't click the kitten video anymore.

  • Why is a 'suicide squad' even necessary when the government sent in soldiers with them?
    Just have the soldiers do it.

  • Fant 4 stick was Fox not Sony. Great video though.

  • 10 Cloverfield Lane was really GOOOOD

  • true fact: every single person who went to see that movie, without exception, can be put in any of the following three categories:
    a) critics / reviewers, or people otherwise professionally obligated to go
    b) horny teenage or young adult couples, where the guy hoped to convince the girl to wear a slutty costume for halloween
    c) horny teenage or young adult couples going to make out more so than for the movie itself

  • what is he drinking?

  • Captain Boomerang's deception of Slipknot is actually extremely important. It establishes him as the true hero of the movie- using his guile and wits to assist others is escaping it despite their own fear of doing what would be required. In this scene, he cunningly tricks Slipknot, a member of the long-suffering indigenous American race and the only such representative of such in the film, into fleeing from the hellscape of this film before he becomes mired in it, for the rest of the cast is already bound by opening cards and the dreaded montage and marketing curses. Now, some may make derisive commentary on the movie killing its only Amerindian in such a off-handed way and without giving him any character, but out of all the cast this leaves him free, free to do literally anything else with his life than this dumpster fire.

  • i disliked because you turned off ratings :)))

  • I applaud you. I got so confused on my first viewing that maybe 15 mins in I completely dissociated and watched it like a baby watches Teletubbies. With no understanding and just enjoying the pretty colors. Yeah that was disappointing too.
    Edit: case in point. I listened to the soundtrack and could not match one song to any scene. Not one. It was just "that was in the movie? I like that song. I do not remember it."

  • Yh I agree sept Rogue one sucks

  • "Sony and Fan4stic" oof…I know you probably meant Fox, but Sony was the wrong company

  • 16:42 oh shit, I laughed. Time to hand in my adult license. XD

  • I’m starting to get the feeling that the reason I loved a lot of “bad” movies (Suicide Squad not included) is because my ADHD brain absolutely LOVES this kind of editing, and I’m not ticking down the seconds until the next scene

  • A friend who wanted to go into film was saying to me how awesome this movie was and was making me watch it…I remember being so unimpressed to the point I thought I just wasn't a movie person. Now I know their taste in movies is mediocre at best, with a love of bright, flashy cliches. And loving Harley Quinn's character…which, sure, whatever floats your boat I guess…

  • My new favorite channel….

  • Are you drinking cough syrup

  • It's still a cool trashy bad movie, I like it at least

  • i hate this planet and everyone in this comment section

  • They shouldve done that "roll call" throughout the entire movie, but every characters little adventure has something to do with the overal plot weaved through the story

  • Thump kitten indeed.

  • I know I’m mega late to the party, but I’m binge watching the entire channel.

    I honestly feel that the editing is just rotten icing on a rotten cake made with rotten ingredients. It’s not just the editing, it’s also the script and plot. It makes no sense for the Suicide Squad to be used for world ending threats- that’s what the Justice League is for. And if one of them goes rogue, you’ve got the rest of the League.

    No, the Suicide Squad is for government missions that the government needs deniability for. Black Ops, basically. Which…. is exactly what the story is in the comics. It’s never about big threats, because that doesn’t make sense. All they had to do was stick to the pre-established story about these pre-established characters!

    But no, they wanted their BvS tie in, so had to use that line. This, I feel is the very base of the problems. Yes, the editing was atrocious, but it’s a movie built on a shitty foundation, and that can’t be fixed except by rewriting the entire thing.

    It’s a pity, because the acting was actually pretty good- not surprising, they got in very good actors here. And, the concept (the original concept) is good! It’s interesting- having a bunch of criminals being brought in to do Black Ops for the government.

    And, you can use it to say a lot of things about government corruption, or how governments try to look all above board, but will get their hands very dirty. And that has plenty of real life history that it makes a good theme- are governments ever justified in doing these things? Whether they have deniability or otherwise? And if the Justice League is also working for this government, how clean are they? Do they even know? – hey, there’s a sequel idea!

    While I agree the editing was just abysmal, even if it were okay, we still wouldn’t have gotten a decent movie. Because the very concept it was built on was fatally flawed. What’s the theme? Does this even make sense? What are the contradictions that drive antagonisms? This was shit from the beginning, and could not have been saved. And I’m so disappointed, because it could have been awesome.

  • How you calculate the amount of recording time a movie have before editing????

  • Spend the whole time bitching about bad continuity, cutting and plot telling whilst managing to display your own horrible execution of video editing. Is this just irony or your own form of those who can't do teach?

  • Honestly, I know this might be an issue just with the archetype and I personally haven't read the DC comics so I wouldn't know if their stories go any deeper(PS. I also will be trying to focus on examples from the movie specifically ) , but I was sort of surprised that all of the villains seemed to have a Tragic Backstory™. For most of the characters it just seemed cheesy and cliché in the worst way. The movie never really let them be portrayed as just having an evil side. I think the reason the it was so backstory heavy was 1) a weird way to get non-dc fans interested in what happens to these the characters as, the initial premise and character recognition pulled people in but wouldn't have had most people lasting long unless they were die hard fans. 2) they wanted these characters to be good from all angles(you get my drift) these people were not allowed to have negative traits that led them to these actions, sure a villain can have a tragic backstory, but most people dont turn to crime unless they have a fundamental character flaw like pride, or rage, etc. I spent a bit of time looking around on the wiki's and all and I know that comics had much more range to their characters than some of them portrayed in this movie. It makes me wonder who wrote and storyboarded the movie. They wanted flashing lights and neon signs and cool villains doing non villain things I guess. It makes me want to read the original source material because the movie doesn't set up much for someone who hasn't invested in reading DC comics. Like for the most part I only knew of harlequin at the time and barely knew about the rest of the characters, it was a weird disconnect to root for these people when I was given a title card and a small clip of a sad backstory or their superhero arresting them. It's like going to a presidential rally and they give you a sheet with the guys favorite color and food and then play a sad video about him for you. Would you feel invested in something like that? Over all I think we've all come to terms with the fact that Warner bros tend to be hit and miss with theses things.

  • When I saw the movie in theaters I thought I didn't get the twist. Made me feel dumb because I couldn't make any sense of it, as if some important plot point completely went over my head. Turns out it didn't make any sense in the first place.

  • mArThA

  • I swear, the film Suicide Squad felt like it was edited by the Suicide Squad. The movie was as bad as the characters were supposed to be.

  • 34:15 Ok so where is this list? Is this a tongue in cheek example of bad editing or what?

  • Katana is such a weird name, a character named after it's own weapon
    Imagine a character named Gun

  • I really wanted to enjoy the movie, but just… couldn't.
    One of the things I think I liked least was that the movie is called Suicide SQUAD but the characters never really worked as a cohesive team. It was mostly just "look at Harley Quinn do funny/cool stuff while everyone else reacts to her."

  • a good example of bad editing that i have seen recently is an indie movie called Slasher house 2 on prime. The first one was bad in its pacing and script, but the second one…that was all of these edits at once being bogged up. I sometimes like to see low to zero budget movies because you can find extremely inventive stuff in them, but the whole of the director's movies seem to strive on making deliberately bad choices. This makes me wonder if somehow these types of people are sought after so they win a buck or two.

  • I think the Unicorn was just added later, because they saw deadpool and wanted to make the movie funnier.

  • Viola Davis's character in this movie is basically her character in How to Get Away With Murder only instead of killing lawyer and yelling in courtrooms she's killing her staff and yelling in board rooms.

  • House of the Rising Sun isn't by the Animals, it's originally an old Louisiana folk song

  • TBF, you can't just edit what you want when you want. If there is a scene that needs to be edited in but it hasn't been shot then you can not edit it in. Also, you can't edit scenes out of order. For example, if the movie needs extra action beats in the first act you can't take footage from the 3rd act action scenes and edit them in there. Basically, what I'm saying is, you can only edit with the locked footage you've been given.

  • your tastes….are….interesting.

  • I don't know…. I kind of assumed the Unicorn turned into a wad of cash magically or the cash was stashed inside and he at some point cut the cash out when no cameras were rolling. I think the cut was good. The "her heart's out, now we can finish it" cut was egregious!

  • The sheer scale problems were the thing that annoyed me the most when the film came out; this is a group that works in the comics because they do secret and ridiculous missions that no one else would agree to (eg. fight an entire stadium full of zombies to find one person), and that they're all disposable. But the movie made it this grandiose superweapon, and followed it around with something akin to a private army, and never really used the fact that they're villains for any sort of significant payoff…
    Your video made me realize just how much the way the movie is put together highlights each of its fundamental issues…
    Anyway, great analysis, bad movie.

  • I have to wonder, how much of the editing plague is a secondary symptom of executive meddling in effects and rough cuts that eat up time before release? Studio demands re-shoots? Now you have to get the actors back, re-build sets, and THEN the effects team has to get all the color keyed right, AND potentially work on hundreds of hours of CGI. Meanwhile, editors are just stuck waiting for new material while the clock keeps ticking and they have to get something done.

  • It tells something about a movie when you start thinking that letting go of the pointless plot and just introducing and re-introducing characters for an hour and a half, as much for the fun of it than the implicit comment on the superhero genre, would have been more enjoyable.

  • The thing that makes this movie sad for me, is that the Suicide Squad isn't meant to be a team to fight metahumans. They're supposed to do covert government opperations that are highly likely to involve casualties, and if anything goes wrong, the government can wipe their hands clean of it and pretend they had no idea, and it's just villians doing villiany stuff.

    Ex) Russia plans to nuke USA. We need to make sure that those bombs never leave the ground. Go destory them.

  • Belle reve ? Is it a ref to a streetcar named desire or is it just a bad joke ?

  • What are we, some kind of comment section?
    I love how they test-screened both cuts – both times the test audience voiced dissatisfaction. So, naturally they combined the two cuts together – presumably because "WE SPENT TOO MUCH ON DIS SUICIDE PICTUH WE GOTTA GET SOMETHING BACK!"


  • I just want to mention that the trailers for suicide squad gave the impression that the squad was going to be taking on The Joker, and that even Enchantress (the real villain of the piece) "reacted" to him in the trailer. So the fact that Joker is not even in the movie for 15 minutes was disappointing as all hell. That's gotta be some form of false advertising, right? Enchantress wasn't even a fake-out villain, she was just the villain the whole time.

  • Where is that hidden kitten video I demand it


  • Not all that familiar with the production pipeline but I feel that so many of these issues could have been fixed or avoided if they had storyboarded the movie. Studios should allow, nay mandate, longer pre-production planning time. Its just stupid bad business to invest so much on something you handicap from conception.

  • I kept just as poor track of the details as the editors did. As such, I genuinely enjoyed the movie. 😂 🤷🏼‍♀️

  • The cut where we learned what happened over the radio threw me so much when i watched it. Like i honestly didn't get at first that something had gone wrong – that he had made a mistake. I thought flag had made a plan with her to betray waller, and that's why we didn't see his reaction. Like he radioed her only Acting like something had gone wrong, when in fact setting enchantress loose had been his plan all along. Then when that wasn't the case and it's revealed that he honestly had actually fucked up my reaction was one of confusion like "why did you have her transform in the first place, you idiot?" Lmao it was a lot of useless whiplash and disappointment

  • Apparently the joker good in the panda outfit was meant to be more a main goon and have a back story…
    As soon as I heard that it struck me that thats what happened to the guard that disappears
    Joker kidnaps, mentally tortures, turn him into one one his goons. All edited out

  • i liked for the bonus hidden video at the end, thank you

  • Old video is old, but I couldn't help but notice this… the "payoff" is a wad of cash… I mean I just hope that if that's the joke they weren't really expecting it to land properly

  • Putting the word "art" next to Suicide Squad makes me want to commit-

  • See, funny thing is I saw this in theaters and just assumed the problem was my inability to keep a focus on the characters (being unfamiliar with them) and not being able to keep up in an action scene.

    So I feel better now. Thank

  • The ensemble film of the villains, as a blockbuster, should probably have come after the ensemble film of the Heroes, which should have been after the Heroes all hard their own films, which at least referenced the villains, better introduced them.
    Now it you want a low budget film of the villains, where the financial risk is lower, that is fine.

  • I think suicide squad more than any other movie shows the difference between Marvel and D.C. Marvel wants to put out a good story that makes money, D.C. wants to make money. and as so with out the cartoons and one or two Netflix series D.C. might be dead in the water. so maybe get someone that knows comic books to write and direct there movies

  • Great video. Congratulations. You said bullshit about Batman V Superman (that is a great movie) but now you're definitely forgiven LOL

  • I think the movie's first half was entirely modified and they reshot a lot of the stuff. If you watch the movie you get snipbits of scenes giving you an idea what they took out. I think the original order would have been this, Superman dies (big funeral), introduction of all the cast in long form, all in order so maybe Harley Quinn( 10/15 min with her origin story), maybe having the different stories run in parralel with Deadshot doing hits ect… Then they all get caught (scenes which have been deleted except for Deadshot and Harley), they also all get tortured (edited out or put in with light hearted music to lighten the movie's mood), Then the black lady tries creating the Sucide Squad where she has the files (first scene of the movie), and the movie progresses into the second half which was not modified. The unicorn is an example of something that was added to litghten the mood (maybe added in reshots) but not in the ladder part of the movie. They just fucked the entire pacing, atmosphere and character development of the movie.

    They just tried placing the Marvel light hearted mood that made a lot of money into what would have a been a very gritty movie. They added all the songs and cut out all the torture scenes (or diminshed them) to do this. But the movie doesnt make any sense as a result, and it flops.

  • I alWays EMphasIZE THE wrong sylLABle

  • Amanda Waller
    Powers: tactical idiot
    Information: pointless
    Title cards: makes way too many

  • Not sure if anyone said this and this vid is pretty old now but uh Fan4Stic is by 20th Century Fox. I'm really enjoying this video tho.

  • I think with the unicorn the reminder one of the squad should've seen it. Then asked why do you have it. He could say it was my daughter's, it's my lucky charm. Something like that I think.

  • The thing about the opening scene I had no problem with it. It's clearly a prison even if I didn't read the text. Shit movie tho.

  • Shave your hair dude, it’ll be ok- I promise

  • The cuts of you drinking is attrocious is it suppose to be funny?

  • Martha? That's the only thing you got from BVS? That's the only thing people got from BVS? Really I mean? Did you were paying attention or are just being haters?
    Batman v Superman Ultimate Edition is not a bad film at all.

  • Nice hoodie? Where'd you get it?

  • Probably, it is like America of 40s thinking that Stalin can be a dissent man.


    Suicide Squad is to bad filmmaking as heist movies are to good filmmaking. In-universe, the Squad is a terrible idea given form by an enormous black-ops budget, zero understanding of super-powers, and the existance of Superman. This movie was a terrible idea given form by an enormous movie budget, zero understanding of Superhero stories and the existence of the MCU.

    The terrible plot structure, horrible editing, and dead-on-arrival production just make the whole thing AUTHENTIC.

  • david harbour was too good for this movie…

  • The other day I saw a katana action figure.
    I had a good laugh to myself and wanted to die.

  • Maybe the wad of cash was in the unicorn
    But they didn't state it.
    It probably wasn't but maybe.

  • The movie has really bad editing problems, but, more than editing, I think is a bad script.

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