Suicide Squad – the review

It is safe to say that the recent offerings DC and Warner Bros have been underwhelming to say the least. I wasn’t the biggest fan of the Nolan Batman trilogy, but the real low point came with the decision to let Zack Snyder and his grey-filtered substance-less version of film-making dictate the DC cinematic Universe. But even before that fateful day, way back in 2009 DC and Warner Bros were trying to develop a movie version of the Suicide Squad; it never really took off.

Much to the chagrin of many a fanboy, it is pretty clear that despite having a massive lead back in the ’90s, DC are very much playing catch-up to Marvel when it comes to recent movie success. And it was after the success of Marvel’s Guardians Of The Galaxy in the summer of 2014, that DC/Warner Bros seemed to get really serious about the Suicide Squad, with David Ayer hired to write and direct the film in September of that year.

Cue a spate of rumours, leaks and casting news all of which helped to build the hype around the film. Initial reports of Ryan Gosling and Tom Hardy being offered roles came to nothing, but with Will Smith, Margot Robbie and recent Oscar winner Jared Leto all cast in prominent roles, the film is hardly lacking for star power, even if  the reaction to some of the early images from filming, Leto’s Joker in particular, was rather mixed.

The response to the trailers was generally positive, as the film appeared to show a welcomed move away from the turgid grey-filter approach Snyder had taken with the poorly made, poorly received Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. But can the film live up to the hopes and the hype, and start to redeem the DC Extended Universe movies?

Plot synopsis:

Well, it has already been covered by both the comics and the DC TV universe, but essentially the film revolves around a rag-tag band of DC baddies who are brought together to play the role of heroes. The official plot and trailer are below:

It feels good to be bad… Assemble a team of the world’s most dangerous, incarcerated Super Villains, provide them with the most powerful arsenal at the government’s disposal, and send them off on a mission to defeat an enigmatic, insuperable entity. U.S. intelligence officer Amanda Waller has determined only a secretly convened group of disparate, despicable individuals with next to nothing to lose will do. However, once they realize they weren’t picked to succeed but chosen for their patent culpability when they inevitably fail, will the Suicide Squad resolve to die trying, or decide it’s every man for himself?

Verdict

Despite having relatively high hopes that this could be the film to correct the course of DC’s wayward cinematic ship, Suicide Squad is yet another DCppointment.

Unfortunately the pacing of the film is poor and the character development is far too limited and uneven. In what is rapidly becoming a perennial problem for DC films, Suicide Squad shows all the hallmarks of DC playing catch-up to Marvel. They fast-forward through the things that make Marvel films so successful – allowing the audience to know and understand the characters and their motivations.

Despite having two recent films in which at least one of the Suicide Squad’s characters could have been introduced, the film instead relies on a short series of vignettes at the start of the film. It is a moderately effective way to introduce a few of the squad, but only because it was followed up with some action with those characters on screen. Unfortunately those characters that aren’t formally recruited by Amanda Waller do not benefit from this additional early screen-time and are therefore lacking somewhat throughout the film.

All but Margot Robbie’s Harley Quinn and Will Smith’s Deadshot struggle to get enough screen-time and development to become fully fleshed three-dimensional characters. The ones that particularly suffer are Captain Boomerang and Killer Croc, neither of whom are really given enough screen-time to make them into anything resembling full characters, with the former reduced to comic relief at times. Although on the positive side, it does at least show that Jai Courtney has much greater potential he hasn’t really shown in other films.

Deadshot and Harley Quinn are definitely lined up to be the stars of the film but even they do not quite reach their full potential. While Will Smith does just about manage to rein-in his more Will Smith traits in favour of portraying the character, he also spends a good 90% of the film out of his Deadshot mask. Surely if you are going to portray Deadshot, actually portray him with eye-piece and mask on when doing Deadshot things rather than only putting it on twice in the whole film. But besides the visuals, Smith does an admirable job of portraying the character.

Margot Robbie’s Harley Quinn was undoubtedly a highlight of the film. Along with Deadshot, Quinn brings a real sense of underlying pathos to the film, combined with humour and violence. Robbie embodies the essence of Harley Quinn and works well with Leto, Smith and the others in making her the centrepiece of the film. But even this portrayal isn’t without fault with her accent wandering at times during the film. Additionally, in what is a perennial problem for Hollywood at the moment, a lot of her highlights are in the trailers somewhat hindering their impact in the film as a whole.

For all the hype and press around Jared Leto’s Joker, the end result was rather bland and uninspiring. It was obviously going to be difficult going up against Heath Ledger’s Joker, which was probably the only real highlight from the Nolan trilogy, but there have also been interesting interpretations by Jack Nicholson and Cesar Romero, as well as Mark Hamill’s fantastic animated portrayal. Unfortunately Leto’s Joker lives up to none of those iconic takes. It is certainly an interesting visual choice, but the actual performance was rather uninspiring and somewhat forgettable. Leto’s Joker is more of a showy gangsta thug than a mentally unstable violent anarchist, and is underwhelming at best, although that may in part be down to the fairly limited screentime he gets.

Another issue with the film is the main villain. Without wanting to give too many spoilers away, the main villain has considerable amounts of power including some level of magic, and could potentially make a great villain for one of the main Justice League heroes. Instead, in Suicide Squad the main villain is pitted against a rag-tag band of mostly low-powered or unpowered villains with only one being an actual meta-human with powers. As a result, the Squad is massively outclassed and should be easily overwhelmed if it were not for some silly decisions by the villains which leads to a rather nonsensical finale to the film that doesn’t really make sense and falls into typical Hollywood flaw of trying to even up the fight with bad decisions.

On the positive side, Ayer doesn’t adopt a Snyder-esque grey-filter palette for the film, bringing a lot more colour to the screen without ever taking it to absurd or distracting levels. This also helps give the film a sense of reality and realism, and perhaps more importantly, made it visually enjoyable to watch.

It also brings a sense of humour, with jokes and comic asides littered throughout the film. These complement the actions sequences well while also helping to provide greater insight into some of the characters, although perhaps an R-rated cut would’ve been able take better advantage of it. It also helps to create a really interesting dynamic between some of the main characters and certainly brings a greater sense of bonding and camaraderie than other DC films of late.

The soundtrack for the film, much like the film itself, does start off well with the use of well-known pop/rock/hip-hop tunes to accompany the onscreen events. But it too slips somewhat as the film progresses. While it is by no means bad, it struggles to maintain the interesting and impressive start in a way that cannot be said for Guardians of the Galaxy’s Awesome Mix Vol. 1.

The Suicide Squad lacks sufficient character development ensuring that at times it relies too much on too few characters. As with the previous two DC films, it seems to lack a clear direction which makes the pacing rather uneven despite an exciting and enticing opening third, struggling to maintain the intrigue, humour and emotion of throughout the film. It suffers from some poor editing choices and as a result struggles to live up to the potential shown in the trailers, resorting to all too familiar superhero tropes of stopping world destruction without ever really earning the right to do so.

There is certainly lots of potential in the Suicide Squad franchise with some excellent actors and really good performances, but as with other recent DC offerings, Suicide Squad is let down by its writing and its plot.

 


Source: Suicide Squad

 

Ash

Ash is a technophile and Tolkienite at heart and has read the Silmarillion more than once – yes really, he’s one of those – with an enjoyment of the wider Sci-Fi and fantasy genres amongst others! When not engaged in hobbity pursuits, he is an avid gamer and movie watcher, and has had an affinity with all things technological and some things sporty.