Thursday, 4 August 2016

Suicide Squad

(M) ★★

Director: David Ayers.

Cast: Will Smith, Margot Robbie, Joel Kinnaman, Viola Davis, Jared Leto, Jai Courtney, Jay Hernandez, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, Cara Delevingne.

"I just know there's a decent DC movie around here somewhere."

AT the risk of firing up the DC troll brigade again, Suicide Squad is another disappointment in the DC Extended Universe.

So that’s three films down, and three fumbles, for those of you playing along at home. On the plus side though, this is the best movie the DCEU has thrown up so far, but it’s still well short of where it could have landed.

After the lifeless Man Of Steel and the super-sized mess of Batman V Superman: Dawn Of Justice, DC has loaded up some of its most charismatic villains and let them loose in this stylised romp which works well from time to time but can’t quite get its act together.

In the wake of the events of Batman V Superman, government official Amanda Waller (Davis) decides the best way to deal with the rise of the “meta-humans” is to fight fire with fire. She puts together a team of super-powered prison inmates who can be used to save the day (and then quietly thrown under the bus if things go bad) – the assassin Deadshot (Smith), The Joker’s insane girlfriend Harley Quinn (Robbie), a sewer monster nicknamed Killer Croc (Akinnuoye-Agbaje), Aussie thief Boomerang (Courtney), the “human torch” Diablo (Hernandez), and a witch called The Enchantress (Delevingne).

Writer-director Ayers has some cool characters at his disposal and the film is at its best when they do their thing. Robbie’s Quinn owns every scene she’s in, Killer Croc is an impressively scary collection of prosthetics and tics, and Diablo proves to be a surprise packet.

With so many characters, it was always going to be hard to give them all the requisite amount of air – Slipknot (Adam Beach) and Katana (Karen Fukuhara) get ridiculously short shrift – but Ayers does a good job of balancing the load. What’s odd is that the least interesting character – Smith’s Deadshot – gets the most screentime, and one can only surmise that is because he’s played by the best (ie. highest paid) actor in the bunch. Let’s face it – no one is going to see this movie for Deadshot, yet he’s everywhere.

Setting up so many characters can be tricky and Suicide Squad does this incredibly efficiently, only to then do it again and again. For some reason, the film feels the need to keep introducing and re-introducing the key players, dragging the first act out and ruining a lot of the good work already done. There is also a scene where Waller outlines her proposal, which is then followed by her outlining her proposal again, to different people. This is bad writing, plain and simple.

The opposite tactic is then used to deal with the big event that the entire film is about, which flits by in a matter of moments and all of a sudden a whole city is in ruins, days have apparently elapsed, and the Suicide Squad is being brought in to deal with the baddies and their MacGuffin (what the hell is that thing? Seriously, I have no idea). It’s a jarring entry to the film’s actual plot, which is scant as it is.

Having given us too much of one thing and not enough of another, Suicide Squad finally settles into a rhythm of running battles, one-liners and cool character moments that range from awesome to underwhelming. The ending is the typical overblown CG assault we’ve come to expect in action movie finales these days, and the feeling afterwards is one of hollowness – there is plenty of style on show here, but at the expense of substance.

Thankfully, Robbie’s Quinn is worth the ticket price alone, and as questionable as Smith’s slice of screentime is, he’s a welcome presence who keeps the film grounded. The ragtag team of anti-heroes get laughs and varying degrees of depth, and are a highlight.

There are a couple of cameos from other DC notables, but the main one is Leto’s much-hyped Joker. Sadly, his “Mr J” skirts around the periphery of the film and is never in a scene for long, which makes it hard to get a handle on Leto’s interpretation of the character beyond “intense psychopath” (also, he adds nothing to the film). No doubt we’ll see him again when the DCEU gets around to a standalone Batman movie, but until then, the jury is well and truly out on how he stacks up against Jack Nicholson and Heath Ledger’s stellar efforts (although the initial feeling is one of vague disappointment).

Light on plot but loaded with style, Suicide Squad is all character and charisma but ultimately empty and unsatisfying, and is largely saved by Robbie and Smith.

DC trolls, come at me.


I really want to share this video with you. It's about the editing in Suicide Squad and why it's terrible. I learnt a lot from this. Folding Ideas often make great in-depth videos about film and this is one of their best.

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