After a highly mixed response to BvS: Dawn of Justice the DCEU has gotten off to a rather stuttering start which has placed Suicide Squad in the unenviable position of being a flagship release rather than an offbeat niche cinematic offering. Therefore we’ve heard rumours of reshoots being administered to the project in an attempt to add more humour to the film and the marketing departments changed the tone from the original trailers dark and grungy take to a more pop based style adding more fun and colour.
Following the death of Superman from the end of BvS government operative Amanda Waller (Viola Davis) assembles a team of incarcerated criminals in an attempt to form an expendable tactical squad who could contend with a possible meta-human threat. She recruits the hit-man Deadshot (Will Smith), mentally unstable Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie), possessed Witch June Moore/Enchantress (Cara Delevingne), pyrokinetic gangster (Jay Hernandez), Aussie bank-robber Captain Boomerang (Jai Courtenay), deformed man-beast Killer Croc (Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje) and really good climber (There’s little else to say) Slipknot (Adam Beach). Waller puts the squad under the guidance of Col. Rick Flag (Joel Kinnaman), a by the book military officer, and his bodyguard Katana (Karen Fukuhara). Following a suspected supernatural attack in Midway City the squad are sent out to retrieve a secret package all whilst Harley Quinn’s psychotic lover, the Joker (Jared Leto), attempts to rescue her.
Suicide Squad opens with a promising, energetic opening introducing the large array of characters with a high volume of pop song based montages. However following a relatively strong first act Suicide Squad sadly dissolves into a myriad of bland, uninteresting, action sequences occasionally highlighted by an interesting sequence or two all culminating in an anticlimactic third act finale. Needless to say I was monumentally disappointed by what was one of the most highly anticipated films of the year that despite a promising start stuttered to a halt forty minutes in and promptly self-destructed into a convoluted mess of poorly edited action, horrifically written dialogue and Cara Delevingne performing some sort of gyrating hula dance that opens portals to the sky.
Despite those shortcomings the cast, for the most part, do a good job. Will Smith delivers his most charismatic performance in years as Deadshot and Margot Robbie has an impressive screen presence though her performance is undercut by some poor writing in a lot of her scenes. As amusing as Robbie manages to be at times her dialogue is unfunny and conflictingly designed. Nowhere is this more apparent than in Robbie’s scenes with Jared Leto. Much has been made of Leto’s meticulous preparation in taking over the role of the Joker and he’s featured heavily in the promotional material for the film despite his role being minimal at most. With little more than five minutes of screen time Leto does manage to make a significant impact, a highly disappointing one at that. Leto’s Joker is a gangster, a career criminal, and it would have been interesting to see the character return to his golden age comic book routes with a modern twist. However this Joker is an impotent, posturing, flaccid man-child impossible to find interesting. Despite Leto’s silly voice affectation, his “quirky” mannerisms and David Ayer’s attempts to photograph him with faux artistic intent you never find him intimidating, amusing or anything at all beyond irritating. Perhaps the most ridiculous thing about suicide squad is watching a film in which Jai Courtenay playing a boomerang throwing bank robber is far more watchable than Jared Leto as a green haired gangster wannabe. The most impressive actor in Suicide squad, unsurprisingly, is Viola Davis as the terrifyingly fierce Amanda Waller who displays an air of vile disrepute none of the so called Suicide Squad can match. She’s an intimidating presence and owns every scene she’s in. Though they get little screen time Jay Hernandez, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje and Karen Fukuhara leave positive impressions while Joel Kinnaman and Cara Delevingne are somewhat lethargic in their roles lacking any real energy or charisma. There’s also a very funny brief appearance from Ike Barinholtz as a security guard and hopefully we will see more of him in a future film.
Suicide Squad is a mixed bag and despite my admiration for the past work of David Ayer and his grungy style seeming a good fit for this project if there is a sequel (which after a massive box office opening there will be) I hope a different director comes on board with a more coherent vision than what he has managed to capture, or at the very least a different screenwriter. At times DOP Roman Vasyanov manages to capture a large variety of interesting plateaus however these too seem to vanish once act two kicks into gear. Despite my disappointment I have hopes for the future of the Suicide Squad, Jared Leto aside, and hopefully the DCEU can find its stride following the huge financial success of the film.
Dir: David Ayer
Scr: David Ayer
Cast: Will Smith, Margot Robbie, Jared Leto, Viola Davis, Jai Courtenay, Jay Hernandez, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, Joel Kinnaman, Karen Fukuhara, Cara Delevingne, Adam Beach, Ben Affleck, Ike Barinholtz, Scott Eastwood
Prd: Charles Roven, Richard Suckle
DOP: Roman Vasyanov
Music: Steven Price
Runtime: 123 minutes
Suicide Squad is out now in UK cinemas.