SPOILERS!! YE BE WARNED!!
Ever since the arrival of the Suicide Squad comic con trailer last year, the most anticipated movie of 2016 looked set to be the saving grace of the DC Film Universe to rival the dizzying success of the Marvel film canon. Although Batman Vs Superman did make over $800 million in box office tickets, the film was universally slammed by critics, the studio also hoping to make the billion dollar territory, it was considered a “flop.” All hopes turned to the baddest heroes ever assembled to save the day. With major hype from actors, director and the marketing campaign, Squad promised to be the biggest and best film of the year. So how did it fare? The film opened to a huge $115m weekend in the cinemas, the third highest of 2016, behind Captain America and BVS no less. Great! But is the film an improvement on Dawn Of Justice? Unfortunately not. Like Batman V Superman, the film has dropped significantly in the box office. OK, not the greatest news, so what do people think? Well, unfortunately, the film has been panned by critics. Ah…. Most of it justified, most of it harsh. Suicide Squad has a much lighter tone going for it than BVS could ever dream of, bringing more fun and humour to the proceedings. An awesome opening to film, you wonder why this film ever got bad reviews in the first place. It is when the second act begins, so too does the frustrations. All the hopes of what could’ve been, shot down as the movie becomes too predictable, and even worse, boring. If you were hoping for DC’s version of Guardians Of The Galaxy, don’t get your hopes up.
So what are the positive aspects? It all starts so promisingly. All our super villains are locked up, but not for long. In steps Amanda Waller, played in devilish fashion by Viola Davis, a US Government Agent operating Top Secret Missions. Her idea is to bring in “the worst of the worst” for a mission, using them as leverage if anything goes pair-shaped. Built in deniability. Each character is given a summary of their powers/personality and skill, and who they are. Flicking through each page in Waller’s folder, a character bio is shown on-screen with every introduction. It’s a nice touch, and the perfect start, setting the film up nicely and making sure we know what to expect from each of the baddies. A film about the Dark Knight’s villains wouldn’t be right without the big man showing his bat ears once in a while. And that’s exactly what we get. It may be brief, but it’s a welcome addition to the already blistering opening the film has produced. From arresting Will Smith’s Deadshot in front of his daughter, to ruining date night for Harley Quinn by punching her in the face. It goes to show how ruthless Affleck’s Batman is compared to any other portrayals gone before him.
So what about the actors? Let’s start with the most talked about addition of the film: Margot Robbie. A fantastic choice for Harley. Mixing sexiness with downright crazy, no one could’ve played her better. Ditching the jester outfit for a more scantily clad model, she’s already a trend setter for a new generation of cosplayers, and a wet dream for many. Never without her trusty bat, she’s also mean and throws down a mighty wallop. With a mouth to boot, for every pop of her bubblegum, there’s a wise-crack in between. While some of the jokes miss the mark, she steals nearly every scene she’s in. Never taking your eye off Daddy’s Lil’ Monster when on-screen.
Jai Courtney is also another example of masterstroke casting for Captain Boomerang. Dry wit aplenty, he too provides laughs, while also not really interested in fighting, just happy to be along for the ride. Will Smith is his normal Will Smith self. Humanizing Deadshot with the added background of his daughter, you sympathise with the character, knowing as the film goes on, he’s doing everything for his kid, hoping to see her again, even if it’s just one last time. Being one of the biggest villains in Batman’s rogue gallery in the film, aside from the joker, it’s no surprise why Will Smith was cast. This isn’t his first blockbuster, so for someone who needs to show leadership, you wouldn’t name anyone else captain if Will Smith was in your line up…. Unless of course Captain was in your name, like Boomerang… But you get what i mean…
Other characters don’t really get a lot to do. Joel Kinnaman plays Rick Flag as straight and plain as ever with his Special Forces officer tasked to keep the ant-heroes in check. Jay Hernandez’s El Diablo keeps his fiery powers at bay until it’s necessary. Killer Croc has a lot of teeth but not much bite in the old ‘gator. Katana shows she’s good with a samurai sword but not good stealing the show so much. And less said about Slipknot the better. RIP big guy.
Characters set up nicely, now what about the story? In the words of Rick Flag: “you’re going somewhere very bad, to do something that’ll get you killed.”…. That’s it i hear you ask? yup, that’s pretty much it. And herein lies the major problem for Suicide Squad: There is no real plot in sight. From one dull shootout to the next, the film becomes too repetitive and tiresome to watch. Just when you hope for anything exciting to happen, in comes more bullets and pointless action. It becomes one big mess, and I’m not talking about all the bullet shells and smashed windows laying on the Midway City pavement. The team also lack a serious, intimidating big bad to contend with. Cara Delevingne’s Enchantress is a huge cgi clusterfuck of a villain that you don’t feel threatened by her, and when she finally is defeated, you just don’t care.
But wait, aren’t you forgetting one important character?… Well, I haven’t forgotten about him, but the film evidently did : Jared Leto’s Joker. Playing him more as a gangster prince of crime, Jared is as sinister as they come with the clown. Snarling at his prey before shooting them in the face, he looks set to be a formidable foe for Batfleck. One of the major issues with the Joker, however, is not so much at Leto’s performance, but the screen time. With the film clocking in at 130 mins, the joker is only shown a grand total of 15 minutes. Disgraceful for an actor that had so much anticipation and expectation for playing such an iconic character. Legendary are the stories of Leto staying in character as Mr. J the whole shoot, he barely has a chance to flex his muscles in the final product, adding absolutely nothing of value to the film. His whole purpose is to rescue Harley Quinn?? Seriously??!! To not even have a master plan up his sleeve or even try to make the Squad’s lives hell is a complete waste. You either use The Joker as the main villain or not at all. The relationship between him and Harley was quite strange to see too. Playing them more lovey dovey than an abusive mess is not the right fit for these crazies. Hopefully more can be seen from these two later on in the future, be it a spin-off or in the Ben Affleck solo movie. Jared Leto needs more of a story to get his grilled teeth into and really show what he’s capable of, because from what was seen of him, he was superb.
Though the film doesn’t fall into Fantastic Four disaster territory, it does falls short of what could’ve been a shining light in the DC library. A talented cast and a solid first 45 minutes can’t save a mess of a film, and we’re still trying to search for those Joker scenes. As fun as the film is at times, it’s a shame the actors had nothing really to work with in terms of the story at hand. Over to you, Justice League.
By George Millard