Is Suicide Squad, DC Comics/Warner Bros. follow up to Batman V Superman Dawn of Justice, like it’s reluctant team of super-villains, more than the sum of it’s parts or a bad idea waiting to happen?
Following BvS with an adaptation of the relatively obscure Suicide Squad, especially with DC’s heavy hitters Wonder Woman and Flash still waiting in the wings, was a risky move and one that hasn’t quite paid off.
Having witnessed the terrifying power that “metahumns” can wield in BvS it was only a matter of time before shadowy government types started worrying about what would happen if the next Superman to come along wasn’t quite so friendly.
Cue Amanda Waller (Viola Davis), well known to fans of DC comics, The Flash and Arrow TV series and Justice League cartoons as the head of head of A.R.G.U.S /Checkmate/Cadmus, triggering the formation of Task Force X; a secret team made up of some of the most wanted (and most easily managed) villains in the DC Universe.
Comprising of Deadshot (Will Smith) an assassin who never misses; Enchantress (Cara Delevingne) an ancient evil spirit and her tormented human host June Moon; Harley Quinn(Margot Robbie) the Joker’s girlfriend and…psychopath with a baseball bat, I guess?; Killer Croc (Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje) the mutated, vicious but relatively dumb Batman villain; Captain Boomerang (Jai Courtney), Aussie thief from The Flash‘s rogues gallery, Slipknot (Adam Beach) who apparently scale anything and fire wielding gang member El Diablo(Jay Hernandez) . To say that they are not open to the idea of working for “the man”, or in this case “woman”, would be an understatement.
Trying to corral this gang of misfits is tough as nails soldier Rick Flag (Joel Kinnaman) who’s joined voluntarily by Katana (Karen Fukuhara), a ninja with a mystical yet tragic blade.
As soon as threat arises that the regular armed forces can’t handle the team is thrown together, implanted with explosives, just in case they feel like rebelling or escaping, and sent to rescue a VIP in an area where very weird, very bad things are going on.
What’s the plan?
Laid out like that, Suicide Squad sounds like a blast but as soon as the film starts it’s needlessly bogged down in repetitive pointless exposition that completely kills any forward momentum.
Around the half hour mark there’s a point where the squad are first recruited by Waller and Flag which neatly encapsulates all the background an audience needs on these mostly obscure comic book characters, which would be great if it wasn’t for a previous, overlong sequence which already provided background on each of the squad’s members.
Despite its supremely confident marketing, the film itself is plagued by moments like this that seem too indicate a lack of confidence by the filmmakers or the studio in their product, leading to more unnecessary, repetitive expository scenes like this rather than getting on with the action.
It’s not a spoiler to add that when the action does finally arrive, it’s slightly disappointing that the threat faced by Task Force X is one mostly of Waller’s own making rather than some crazy villain from the wider DC universe.
The enjoyable action is also broken up by interminable scenes of the characters trudging around Midway city, trading verbal barbs that don’t always land, leading to a staccato rhythm that prevented me from fully engaging with the film.
Bad to the bone
That said Suicide Squad is not a complete car crash (like BvS IMHO) and does have its moments. It’s frequently funny for one thing. Will Smith is as charming as ever, and gets some great scenes and banter with Kinnaman’s Flag and the other squad members. Margot Robbie is pretty much pitch perfect as Harley Quinn, even homaging her classic costume from Batman: The Animated Series (where the character originated) before donning her more modern attire, and the way she utters “Mistah J” at one point will make fans of the animated series swoon.
HA! HA! HA! HA! HA! HA! HA! HA!
Speaking of whom, Jared Leto’s Joker weaves his way in and out of the film like a predatory shark, both more than just a mere cameo, but yet still slightly less. While I enjoyed his moments in the cinema, upon reflection it becomes clear that this Joker is just a crime boss with an outré sense of style. There’s no sense of the madness behind his method. This is the only Joker that I can I recall who’d actually do anything as gauche as hang out in an actual nightclub.
The rest of the cast performs well with what their given with Jay Hernandez in particular having a strong arc as the slightly reformed gang member, El Diablo.
Even Jai Courtney (A Good Day to Die Hard, Terminator Genysis) manages to be bearable! Cara Delivigne however fares a little worse. As with Oscar Isaac in X-Men: Apocalypse she’s saddled with a distracting CGI makeover for most of the film, one that prevents any real performance from coming through and hampers any actual performance from emerging.
While “The Bat” and another cast-mate from 2017’s Justice League movie, make an appearance, a pointless tease during the credits shows how little DC/WB understands the template for shared comic book universes as put together over at Marvel Studios. Rather than use Marvel’s style as a jumping off point before forging their own path, DC/WB seems committed to making all their own mistakes first.
Suicide Squad manages to simultaneously feel like an extended music video while also going long periods where its forgotten what rhythm is. By turns funny exiting and boring it’s by no means a disaster it also doesn’t inspire hope for the rest of DC’s cinematic universe.
Starring: Will Smith, Margot Robbie, Viola Davis, Jared Leto, Jai Courtney, Jay Hernandez, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, Cara Delevingne, Joel Kinnaman, Joel Kinnaman, Adam Beach, Karen Fukuhara
Directed by: David Ayer
Official Site here.