Viola Davis is in command of a covert department within the CIA who decides that in order to combat the potential of an evil “Meta-Human” (person with superpowers) she must construct a team of captured and lesser known DC villains. These include Margot Robbie as Harley Quinn – girlfriend to Jared Leto’s Joker, Will Smith as Deadshot – the best hitman the world has ever seen and Cara Delevigne as Enchantress – a woman possessed by an all-powerful witch. There are a whole bunch of other characters but frankly they don’t really matter.
So this is the one we’ve all been waiting for – the most hyped movie of not just the summer but the year. It’s been shoved down all of our throats for what feels like an eternity and it’s finally here. So how is it?
There are good thing in Suicide Squad, and I think that there are maybe two really good movies hidden within the mess but you just end up with a film that doesn’t know what it wants to be and so isn’t really anything. For me it looked like there was a gritty antihero film about the struggles of 6 outsiders being forced to work together that was then told to become a quirky and anarchic comedy more in line with Dead pool. The trouble is they didn’t commit to either, so ended up trying to make both ending up with a film that isn’t anything special at all.
There is stuff I really liked about Suicide Squad. I thought for the most part it was a generally fast paced action romp, although it did lose steam during the third act though. The principal cast are generally very good. Will Smith is charismatic as always and has the majority of the good lines. Margot Robbie manages to rise above her poor writing and threatens to steal the film while on completely the other end of the female representation chart Viola Davis completely slays as the corrupt government official. Based around the solid Smith Robbie and Davis joust for the award of most compelling screen presence, though ultimately the fact that Robbie has to do nearly the entire film in a pair of apparently ever shrinking hot pants for no apparent reason is troubling enough for Davis to emerge from Suicide Squad the least damaged. Elsewhere Jai Courtney is actually quite good (never thought I’d be saying that), Cara Delavigne does well with what little she’s given and Ike Barinholtz shines in a small role as a corrupt and cowardly prison guard. However there are weak links: Joel Kinnaman despite having a fairly central role manages to go almost completely unnoticed throughout. And characters like Killer Croc (Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje), Diablo (Jay Hernandez) and Katana (Karen Fukuhara) have so little to do it’s impossible to pass judgement on the performances, and actually when they eventually do get included it tends to be some form of slightly uncomfortable racial stereotyping (She’s called Katana for crying out loud). And then there is of course the Joker. Now let me start by saying that while I personally don’t really agree with method acting – clearly Leto is very dedicated to the role and has tried very hard to make it work and I respect that. However for me he just didn’t work. I am intensely glad that his interpretation is different to any of the others that have come before it, but it’s not for me I’m afraid. I expect that for many this may become the definitive Joker because it is an entirely new version, but for me it contains none of the characteristics of the Joker that I personally find threatening and interesting. Oddly enough though, after all of the hype and advertising centred on his joker he’s barely in the film.
The action sequences of Suicide Squad are not it’s best feature and tend to be heavy on the CGI and low on lighting, so it all ends up just kind of looking like a dark brown blur with occasional flashes of colour – much like the final battle from Batman v Superman in fact (although it never looks quite that naff). When Suicide Squad is at its most enjoyable is when you are watching the fractured team dynamic and seeing as much of these genuinely interesting characters. The opening sequence which is essentially just a roll call of each character in turn each with their own popular music soundtrack is actually very fun. It may well be the least intelligent or interesting way of developing these characters but it’s fast paced, witty and contains some great songs. Sure all the songs seem like they were slapped on during post when some producer thought they should make it more like Guardians of the Galaxy, and sure there are far too many of them – the first five minutes is literally just pop song after pop song after pop song all in very quick succession, but you know what I’m a sucker for a good tune.
Overall though Suicide Squad is ultimately a crushing disappointment. Because while honestly I’ve always been a naysayer (I found the constant barrage of advertising quite sickening) I did really want to like Suicide Squad. I really want to be a DC fan again. But they just don’t know what they are doing. Suicide Squad is the best film in the DC extended universe, but then again so would Iron Man 2 so let’s not get ahead of ourselves eh team.