Suicide Squad is a cinematic failure for so many unique reasons—confusing editing, bad acting, cheesy plot line, insane soundtrack, etc.—but the most entertainingly bad part of it was Jared Leto’s Joker, which is truly some of the of the Oscar-winning actor’s worst acting. Considering all the the stories of him being a shithead on set in the name of “method-acting”—sending his costars used condoms, anal beads, dildos, dead pigs, and bullet casings—you’d expect him to at least be scary and sexually deranged. Instead, Leto channeled the spirit of a Hot Topic employee who takes his image way too seriously.
A major plot point in the movie is hinged upon a cell phone that the Joker forces the head prison guard, played by Ike Barinholtz, to give to Harley Quinn. Throughout the film, the Joker texts Harley to keep her updated on his plan to rescue her from her imprisonment. A good 5-10 minutes of screen time is devoted just to the Joker figuring out how to get Harley the phone.
This raises the question: How would the Joker text?
Text messaging is difficult to convey on film—some directors opt to just have characters read the texts aloud, shows like House of Cards just have graphics of message bubbles as opposed to showing the actual phone screen and sometimes texting is largely ignored as a medium of communication because it’s not especially screen-friendly. If the director chooses to show text messages, as Ayers did in Suicide Squad, it automatically places the film in a specific moment in time. (I mean, iOS 6 basically looks ancient these days and it’s only been two years since Apple did a major redesign of its iOS when the company introduced 7.)
I’m not sure why Ayers chose to make the phone so integral to the plot—it seems pretty arbitrary to the narrative of the movie—but since he devoted a considerable amount of screen time to this, it’s fair game to pick apart. Comedian Patrick Monahan points out on Twitter that if Ayers is going to make the Joker text, he might as well spice up his message. Considering Leto’s character is basically set up to be the most twisted, edgy freak ever, he should’ve considered infusing some of his wild personality into his text messages.
Not only did Ayers miss out on having the Joker sUbV3r† the English language via text, I would’ve also loved to see what emojis he’s into. (I bet he uses 💉 a lot. ‘Cause he’s hardcore like that.)
There could have been something nice about an object we all use being central to the plot of a movie like Suicide Squad, imagining the Joker doing mundane activities like going to the Verizon store to take out a plan, setting up his contact info in the phone, uploading that lil’ dumb avi. The phone, however, seems like a complete afterthought. I mean didn’t anyone working in the props department question why there’s both a “close” and “ignore” button underneath the Joker’s text message. Why does the interface look like a mashup on iOS 6 and Windows XP?
Suicide Squad had the potential to be a good-bad movie—imagine if it skewed toward a more Evil Dead style of camp—but it was so sloppily put together, it ended up drowning in a viscous puddle of mediocrity. The phone is just an illustration of a largely arbitrary plot point failing to even develop any of the characters in an interesting way.
[H/T Patrick Monahan]