Running Time: 123 Minutes
Director: David Ayer
Cast: Will Smith, Margot Robbie, Jared Leto, Jai Courtney, Scott Eastwood, Joel Kinnaman and Viola Davis.
(Movie House Cinemas preview screening)
Figuring they’re all expendable, a U.S. intelligence officer decides to assemble a team of dangerous, incarcerated supervillains for a top-secret mission. Now armed with government weapons, Deadshot (Will Smith), Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie), Captain Boomerang, Killer Croc and other despicable inmates must learn to work together. Dubbed Task Force X, the criminals unite to battle a mysterious and powerful entity, while the diabolical Joker (Jared Leto) launches an evil agenda of his own.
THERE’S nothing harder than sitting down to write a review that basically says a film is, well a little bit ‘meh’, every time I do I hear Russell Crowe’s Marcus Aurelius from Gladiator screaming in my ears asking me was I not entertained? If I’m brutally honest about Suicide Squad I’ve got to admit I wasn’t, yes it’s a better movie than Batman vs Superman, but that’s like saying getting a pin stuck in your foot isn’t as sore as a nail: at the end of the day they’re both unpleasant experiences.
Considering the largely negative reviews coming out about the film I’m not surprised I didn’t like it, but it’s not that I think Suicide Squad is a terrible movie, just like Batman vs Superman it’s more the sense of disappointment about the movie that really annoys me. I genuinely went in hoping to be proved wrong, I’d hoped this might be the film to halt my growing sense of ‘comic-book fatigue’ and the movie that kick-started DC’s cinematic universe: at the very least I’d hoped it would be fun, but how wrong was I? I’d hoped this film would be DC Comics’ version of The Dirty Dozen, but what they’ve served up is nothing more than a generic, bang-average superhero movie that feels like it’s been designed by a committee.
Yes there’s some pretty solid performances by most of the cast, all of whom are perfectly cast within their respective roles, but the film’s weak-script and schizophrenic tone just simply doesn’t give them much very much to do! There’s just so little room for character development, other than wafer thin token gestures and at the end of the day it all boils down to nothing more than a group of ‘meta-humans’ coming together to stop a cliché super-villain from destroying the world.
It’s well reported that in the wake of the wave of negativity surrounding Batman vs Superman Warner Bros. decided to do some serious retooling of their movie, adding more humour and upping the violence levels seemingly as a reaction to the huge success of Deadpool and it’s much heralded R Rating or 15 viewing certificate to us here in the UK. Whether the film’s flaws were already there within the script from the get-go, or they’ve been caused by the extensive reshoots we’ll never really know; but it’s just a mess of a film that fails to deliver on its fantastic premise, in a world without Superman humanity is forced to rely on the bad guys to save the day
Much like Batman vs Superman the film feels like it’s in a huge rush to get where it’s going; no sooner has Amanda Waller (Viola Davis) assembled Task Force X and they’re flying off to stop a megalomaniac super-villain from destroying the world. Cara Delevingne’s character Enchantress is a real disappointing element of the film, the actress just doesn’t get very much to do as the supposed big-bad, billed as the most powerful meta human mankind has ever encountered, much like Oscar Isaac’s character in X-Men: Apocalypse her character boils down to nothing more than a villain of the week who must be stopped by our rag-tag group of anti-heroes.
Once the group has been dispatched to Midway City everything quickly descends into one long fight scene after another, whilst it’s not as over the top as Batman vs Superman it nevertheless feels just as clunky. It’s a shame because when the film pauses for breath and lets the members of the squad just talk amongst themselves it really kicks into gear, it’s at its best whenever it’s the bad guys just talking about being bad, asking themselves why they should bother to do anything for humanity, when they’re the bad guys after all.
That’s the kinda stuff I wanted more off from this film, not endless gun porn and half-hearted attempts at humour, but then apparently because I’m a critic and not a comic book fan-boy I’m not who this film was made for. It’s such a copout by directors and producers when they claim that catering for fans means critics and non-comic book readers can’t enjoy their films. Whilst I’m not a huge comic-book reader, I’ve read most of Frank Miller’s work on Batman and love Alan Moore’s The Killing Joke, I never felt when I was watching Chris Nolan’s Dark Knight films that I was being treated like an imbecile.
I’ve also enjoyed most of Marvel Studios’ output, although don’t get me started on Iron Man 2, Why? Because they’ve given us characters we can believe in, characters who’ve been developed over various films and spout more than one-liners or reams of dialogue that merely explain the plot. Take Avengers Assemble for example, a film that’s premise is probably the closet to that of Suicide Squad’s: what made it work, well for me anyway, wasn’t the big CGI battles, but the clash of super egos and sadly we don’t really enough of that from Suicide Squad.
Yes Margot Robbie is excellent as Harley Quinn; the Australian actress steals the show as the Crown Prince of Crime’s love-interest, although I do have a serious issue with the leery way in which the camera ogles her throughout the movie. Will Smith too excels, he’s is on full Hancock mode throughout the film as Deadshot: even Jay Courtney who I usually find to be a charisma vacuum in most films is great as Captain Boomerang; but all of these great performances deserve a much better script. Jared Leto’s Joker, who’s been much hyped within the film’s promos and trailers is really only given very limited screen-time: what we see of him in the trailers is pretty much what we see of him within the whole film.
His performance will probably divide opinion, it’s very different from what we’ve seen onscreen before, he’s less of the anarchic figure we saw in Nolan’s Dark Knight and more like the deranged crime-boss seen in Tim Burton’s Batman: but what’s new about his version is that this is a Joker in love! His complicated relationship with Harley is probably one of the film’s stronger elements, particularly when it’s seen from Harley’s point of view; but it’s never really explored with any real confidence other than some fantastic flashback sequences.
Despite all these minor positives I still feel that Suicide Squad is ultimately an underwhelming mess of a movie. We all know that DC is playing catch-up with Marvel in their attempts to set up their own expanded universe, but after two cinematic attempts I’m still not feeling particularly excited about their prospects. When I buy my cinema ticket I want to be entertained, I want to lose myself at the for a few hours, I certainly don’t wanna be bored and left feeling short-changed, but that’s exactly how I feel about Suicide Squad.
Better than Batman vs Superman, but still a criminal disappointment! At least the soundtrack is great!