GENRE: Superhero, Action, Comedy, Adventure
DIRECTOR: David Ayer
WRITER: David Ayer
STARS: Margot Robbie, Jared Leto, Will Smith, Viola Davis, Cara Delevingne, Joel Kinnaman, Jai Courtney, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, Jay Hernandez, Karen Fukuhara
PLOT: With fear of meta-humans rising, the government authorises the mysterious and single-minded Amanda Waller to assemble a group of super villains in order to combat potential new threats.
One can imagine suits at DC and Warner Bros envious over the success of the Marvel movies since 2008. The rise of (in particular) of Captain America, Iron Man and the Avengers appears to be a calculated assault on cinema-goers, now enhanced further with relatively minor characters such as Ant Man and Doctor Strange getting their own successful origin story tales. The DC extended universe, however, first launched with Man Of Steel in 2013, appears to be a chaotic and jumbled mess so far, and Suicide Squad, while enjoyable, does little to dispel that notion.
Suicide Squad follows the logic of classic wartime revenge saga, The Dirty Dozen. With the world gripped with fear following the death of Superman (in Batman Vs Superman), a government agent is given permission to create a team of super-villains to combat any possible future threat. Expendable, and likely to be the patsies for any potential fall out, the team is assembled and ‘persuaded’ to co-operate thanks to a bomb injected in their necks. And naturally, the world-threatening event is just around the corner as the ancient Enchantress, an uber-powerful being inhabiting the body of the Lara Croft-esque June Moone, awakens her brother and begins to transform Midway City into an apocalyptic wasteland, and its inhabitants into strange bubble-faced walking minerals. Facing up against these seemingly impossible odds are the psychotic Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie), hitman Dead Shot (Will Smith) and a bunch of assorted other DC c-listers including Killer Croc, Diablo and Boomerang. All are given a brief introduction and background skit, accompanied by a rock soundtrack that engenders the film a glossy MTV look in its opening 30 minutes, rather than that of an epic superhero tale, before flying off them all off to the fateful battle with supernatural forces.
To go into all the issues of pacing, storyline and logic with Suicide Squad would take several pages, and half of them you’d expect anyway – even the best Marvel movies are hardly exercises in coherent storytelling. Suffice to say, all the jump-cuts, flashy – but dull – visuals and explosions are present and correct although the dream sequences and slow motion are mercifully kept to a restrained level. The performances range from excellent (Robbie) to average (Will Smith does Will Smith) with most, including a criminally-underused Karen Fukuhara as Katana, hardly given any time to shine. The ruthless Amanda Waller, played coolly by Viola Davis, does impress, especially the character’s ability to survive copious life-threatening situations.
But despite the technical exuberances and nagging doubts over the whole idea (isn’t Harley Quinn essentially a young woman with a baseball bat?), the wastefulness of the Joker character and muddled exposition, Suicide Squad manages to at least entertain, and amuse in parts, thanks chiefly to Quinn’s playful interaction with her captors and colleagues, and Will Smith’s standard wise-cracking schtick. After the mundanity of Man Of Steel and the crass pretentiousness of Batman Vs Superman, this is a relative breath of fresh air, although it remains to be seen if the movie generates enough income and positive word-of-mouth to save the rapidly-expanding movie money machine that DC has clearly set its sights on.
Review by Graeme Mason