“We’re bad guys, it’s what we do.”
After Batman vs Superman opened to less than glowing reviews, a lot of people pegged the future of the DCU on Suicide Squad. That may have been a mistake. DC’s inverted take on The Avengers isn’t bad, it’s actually a hell of a lot of fun, but I doubt it’s the resounding success most people had in mind. Luckily for DC it doesn’t really matter what critics think of the film; it’s what the audience thinks (and more importantly whether the audience pays to see it) but still, a lower Rotten Tomatoes score than even Batman vs Superman doesn’t exactly bode well. But hey, I really liked BvS (especially the ultimate cut) in spite of all the terribleness in it. Let’s see how Suicide Squad fares in comparison.
The plot is barely worth mentioning, but it follows a squad of villains assembled into a government task force with the prime job of taking down a world ending threat. This isn’t the raw of Suicide Squad as, like other superhero ensemble films before it, it’s appeal rests upon the sholders of the characters. Luckily this is the main thing the film gets right. Whether they all have enough screen time, or too much in some cases, is another matter. The core characters are unique enough and enjoyable enough to watch that you end up forgetting about the films other problems. Arguably the main characters are Deadshot and Harley Quinn, portrayed by the always brilliant Will Smith and Margot Robbie. They inject a little bit of A-lister magic to the film, something that comic book films tend to rely on. But their casting isn’t purely to get bums in seats, they do actually bring a lot of life to these characters and fit the roles perfectly. Will Smith is just playing Will Smith but it works very well for Deadshot. Robbie’s Harley Quinn might be the most enjoyable character in the film and makes the oft-annoying Harley a character who people would gladly see popping up again.
The smaller stars in the film are also pretty much perfect in their roles. House of Cards’ Joel Kinnaman as team leader and resident ‘good guy’ Rick Flag is great, further erasing the Robocop reboot from our minds. Charisma vacuum Jai Courtney is perhaps the biggest surprise in the film, in that he’s surprisingly decent. His Captain boomerang is the most useless team member (bar the abysmal Slipknot) but Courtney owns it. Perhaps being an exaggerated Australian stereotype is the limit of his acting range but you leave the film with slightly more respect for him. Courtney is moving up the Aussie acting ladder; the poor man’s Sam Worthington has moved a step closer to being the poor man’s Joel Edgerton. Brilliant actors such as Viola Davis and Jay Hernandez fill out the supporting roles, putting in more effort than is needed for this film but vastly improving it’s quality.
Suicide Squad’s characters are great but there are a few noticeable exceptions. Cara Delevingne’s Enchantress is just plain weird and under cooked, the aforementioned Slipknot (Adam Beach) is crap and Jared Leto’s much hyped Joker is disappointing. He’s not even given enough time to leave an impression on the audience. As it stands he’s the worst cinematic portrayal of the Joker but he’s not bad per say. Why he bothered with his extreme method acting is anybodies guess though. His performance has this overiding sense of unpleasantness that haunts even the best films of director David Ayer’s oeuvre. What works in gritty cop drama End of Watch perhaps isn’t the best for Sucide Squad. And it wouldn’t be too bad if the film chose this style and ran with it. But due to much publicised studio meddling the film is a result of several cuts, and it shows. The violence and general grimness of the film, like the Joker scenes or the overall depressing look of the film is pure Ayer. And it’s not always a bad thing, I love previous films by Ayer, and it frequently gives the film something to make it stand out, but due to Suicide Squad being the product of numerous competing cuts it sometime clashes with the more upbeat aspects of the film. Lots of popular retro music on soundtrack (no doubt added after the success of Guardians of The Galaxy); check. Funny back and forth between the squad; check. And all of this is good but it’s sometimes odd when the film switches between the modes so quickly. Haha, Viola Davis just gunned down a room of innocent people, cue funny joke.
Despite these clashes in tone, the individual aspects are good. The tone might be a mess but things like the quips between team members all work. The action is fun and creative too, even if the final battle feels like a throwback to an early time in superhero movie making. The flashbacks for the characters are shoe horned in and make the awful pacing even worse but they’re all very fun. Deadshot probably has the best ones (see above), but El Diablo’s are very good also. The soundtrack might be a blatant grab at Guardians of The Galaxy (it even has Spirit in the Sky in it) but the music is good, and fits the characters during their individual intros. The part of the film is probably the best as we meet the individual making up the squad and get to see them do thier thing. It’s very exposition heavy but Viola Davis delivers it all expertly, meaning you’re never bored.
The bottom line: Suicide Squad isn’t good. It’s a jumbled mess with problems on an absolute basic level. The tone is all over the place, the direction is mixed bag; sometimes great sometimes boring, and for a film about villains nobody is very villainous. They all just talk to other about being villains. Saying all that, Suicide Squad is a very enjoyable watch for the most part. The characters are pretty much all great, the interaction between them is very fun, and the individual flashbacks for them all are varied and enjoyable. It’s not nearly as good a DC’s previous effort BvS (which says it all) but Suicide Squad is unique is a very fun watch, providing you an ignore the problems.
Reviewed by Tom