It’s pretty much an understatement to say that DC Films are currently having a rocky time. They started off with a relatively solid first outing with Man of Steel only to then screw everything up and blow their load way too early with the crushingly disappointing Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, despite the recently released Ultimate Edition adding a bit more context to proceedings. After the fall out of BvS, DC and Warner Bros. needed something to boost the DC Extended Universe, and so, all eyes were certainly on Suicide Squad to do well. It was advertised, as being the wild card of the films in store by focusing on the villainous side of the DC Universe, and what we have here wasn’t good vs. evil, but bad vs. evil with villains against villains, making the Suicide Squad themselves being almost like the anti-Justice League. The marketing for the film was definitely eye-catching, being more radical and intriguing than it was for Batman v Superman, but does it live up to its hype? But more importantly, does this film get DC back on the right track again? To put it simply: sort of…
It is definitely a mixed bag, but a more enjoyable and less problematic one than BvS’s overblown and out-of-proportion mess. However, like last year’s catastrophic Fant4stic, you can tell it’s a scarred movie as evident by the choppy editing throughout with characters being repetitively introduced multiple times as well as multiple flashbacks edited in odd places. It’s clearly evident that huge chunks of this film was edited out and left on the cutting room floor, which are only glimpsed at in trailers and could be shown on the forthcoming home release either through deleted scenes or another “Ultimate Edition” ploy. The film’s tone, plot, and structure is completely all over the place, and with the recent reports circulating about possible production problems behind the scenes, you do begin to wonder whether David Ayer’s original cut would’ve been more preferable than the cut we have here on display.
The first third of the movie is a very solid and radical way of starting the movie with introducing the members of the Squad one by one through the combination of flashbacks and title graphics, which makes for a pretty entertaining and promising start. However, by the time you get to the second act and they start the actual mission itself, it starts to go somewhat pear-shaped. The mission itself is not very good and lacks the stakes needed to make this feel like as though this was a suicide mission. In the comics, the Squad were sent to different countries trying to stop vast organisations or crazed dictators, but here, we get something that feels very generic and ultimately lacklustre. Say what you will about the animated Suicide Squad movie, Batman: Assault on Arkham, but at least that had a focus and a great mission for the Squad to tackle.
The adversaries they face here are so poor it’s laughable. Cara Delevingne as the Enchantress gives a very wooden performance, pulling weird facial expressions, contorted movements and expressions that make it look as though she’s hula dancing, and a voice that feels incredibly artificial. As for Incubus, well he’s just another random CGI monster. At least they are better than both Jesse Eisenberg’s Lunatic Larry and the Ninja Turtle Cave Troll from BvS, even though that’s not saying much. But perhaps the film’s biggest sin is having the Joker involved but not using him very well as, despite massive hype surrounding Jared Leto’s radical and controversial new take, he’s allocated to roughly ten minutes of screen time. He constantly shows up and disappears throughout, and as a result, you kind of forget he was even there, which is a real shame considering that Joker is arguably the greatest villain in fictional literature. Also, even though Ben Affleck’s Batman was used effectively in the film (and actually better handled than in BvS), it does make you wish for a better movie with both him and Leto together on screen.
As for the Squad themselves, it’s very much mixed bag across the board. Will Smith exudes snarky charisma as Deadshot in a way that makes you on board with Smith’s performance, even if it is basically Will Smith playing Will Smith. As puppet master Amanda Waller, Viola Davis is an absolute powerhouse, delivering a threatening performance that easily makes her the most dangerous person on the team, despite lacking any superpowers whatsoever. However, even though Davis steals the show, Margot Robbie as Harley Quinn IS the show. From her personality to her voice, Robbie nails every single aspect of Harley’s character, and every single moment she’s on screen, the film finds its momentum. Plus, despite Captain Boomerang lacking any real purpose for being part of the Squad, Jai Courtney actually didn’t do such a bad job and even provided a few laughs. Guess miracles can happen after all. Both Killer Croc and Katana were absolutely wasted, and as the commander of Squad, Joel Kinnaman gave a pretty bland performance as Rick Flag and makes you almost wish that Tom Hardy were still attached to play that part. Oh, and what was the point of Slipknot?
Roman Vasyanov’s cinematography was vibrant enough to catch your eye, and some of the song choices were utilised effectively, even though some were used ineffectively and served no purpose other than to have a popular song choice thrown in. The score by Steven Price was solid enough, yet it lacked the epic, operatic grandness of Hans Zimmer and Junkie XL’s scores for Man of Steel and Batman v Superman. However, this film provided a much better introduction to the Justice League and the DC Extended Universe than the clunky, out-of-place inclusion of Youtube clips in BvS.
Overall, Suicide Squad is a step forward for the DC Extended Universe, but not by much. It doesn’t feel as cohesive or as fluid as Man of Steel, yet is more entertaining than the joyless results of Batman v Superman. Most of the characters were done justice by their comic counterparts, and actually acted more like heroes than Batman and Superman during the whole of BvS, yet some were just wasted or poorly served. If you are a massive fan of the comic, you will be delighted at the magnitude of callbacks. If not, then you will probably get lost by the multitude of characters and backstories being introduced. There is a stronger cohesive version of this film out there somewhere and whether we could get that film through an extended edition remains to be seen, but as it stands, this film is nothing more than a beautiful splat. Here’s hoping Wonder Woman finally gets the DC Extended Universe back on track.
Dir: David Ayer
Scr: David Ayer
Cast: Will Smith, Jared Leto, Margot Robbie, Joel Kinnaman, Viola Davis, Jai Courtney, Jay Hernandez, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, Ike Barinholtz, Scott Eastwood, Cara Delevingne, Karen Fukuhara, Adam Beach
Prd: Charles Roven, Richard Suckle
DOP: Roman Vasyanov
Music: Steven Price
Run time: 123 mins
Suicide Squad is out now in cinemas.