Rated PG13 for sequences of violence and action, suggestive content and language.
Please be good. Please be good. This was the thought going through my head as I walked in to the midnight screening of Suicide Squad. The trailers for Suicide Squad had been fun, off-kilter and promised a breath of fresh air from the standard comic-book movie tropes, and helped ramp up the hype machine for the film. Along with the rest of the comic-book fans in the audience, I was really hoping that the latest movie from Warner Brothers would help jump-start the DC Expanded Universe, especially after the lacklustre box office performance of Batman V Superman. This was a win that Warner Bros really needed.
Suicide Squad exists in a time following the events in Batman V Superman. Living in a world now populated by super-powered beings, the government is desperately searching for a way to keep these meta-humans in check. U.S. intelligence officer Amanda Waller (Viola Davis) believes the only way to do this is to fight fire with fire, and assembles a team of criminals with unique abilities with nothing to lose and who are ultimately expendable. To ensure their loyalty, each member of the squad is implanted with an explosive that is triggered the moment they step out of line.
The titular team consists of Deadshot (Will Smith), an expert marksman who never misses his target; Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie), a former psychiatrist of the Joker who falls in love with him and is eventually driven insane; Enchantress (Cara Delevingne), an archaeologist who is possessed by an ancient deity; Captain Boomerang (Jai Courtney), a bank robber with a penchant for trick boomerangs; Killer Croc (Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje), a deformed animalistic criminal with armoured skin and superhuman strength; El Diablo (Jay Hernandez), a gangster with pyrokinetic powers who wants to put his past crimes behind him; Katana (Karen Fukuhara), a Japanese samurai who wields a sword that captures the souls of those she kills; Slipknot (Adam Beach), an individual who is an expert at tying ropes and lastly, Rick Flag (Joel Kinnaman), a military soldier tasked with keeping an eye on the squad.
With this impressive array of talent, Suicide Squad opens strong, delving into the characters back story, with the kinetic style shown in the trailers. With well-choreographed action beats, colourful text and information about the team members popping up on the screen, the audience is given a lot of back-story showing what made each of the squad the criminals they are today and often portraying them in a sympathetic light. This is particularly true of Deadshot and El Diablo. The script highlights their inner demons, showing the shades of grey in their personalities. While the world may see them as scum, there is good to be found inside of them.
It’s once the team is assembled and they are sent off on their first mission that the movie starts to falter. Poor and choppy editing made some scenes shorter than they needed to be, and some sequences jumped from one to another without any sort of cohesive flow. The fun, zany vibe that the movie starts off with also gets toned down and the rest of the film becomes another generic action film that is entirely predictable, along with the pre-requisite two dimensional villain.
While Deadshot, El Diablo and Harley Quinn are well served in their characterisation, Boomerang, Killer Croc, Katana and especially Slipknot are not really given that much to do. They are used for some groan-worthy comic relief, and their eventual change of heart doesn’t really feel earned at all. Rick Flag is the stereotypical tough guy, but he doesn’t really have the acting chops to pull it off, and the delivery of his lines often comes off as flat and dull. It didn’t help that the script also features some blatantly expositional dialogue that was painful in its ham-fistedness.
Then there’s the inclusion of the Joker (Jared Leto). His sub-plot was something that could have easily been excised of the film. He seemed to be there to service Harley’s story but it didn’t really go anywhere. Personally I felt like Leto’s performance was more like someone pretending to the Joker. It never felt as seminal as it did with either Nicholson or Ledger‘s portrayal of the Clown Prince.
On the whole, watching the group tackle their mission, it was actually puzzling why the Suicide Squad was needed in the first place. The henchmen that were the main baddies in the film were easily taken down by knives, guns, even punches. You would think a high trained military team would suffice to take on this kind of adversary, without having to resort to a team of elite criminals.
To be frank, Suicide Squad is an entertaining movie, but I don’t think it’ll be the home run that DC was hoping for.
PS, hang around to see the mid credit scene.
I give Suicide Squad a 7 out of 10.