SUICIDE SQUAD (USA/15A/130mins)
Directed by David Ayer. Starring Margot Robbie, Will Smith, Jai Courtney, Viola Davis, Jared Leto, Joel Kinnaman, Cara Delevigne.
THE PLOT:
“The world changed when Superman flew across the sky, and it changed again when he didn’t”, so says Amanda Waller (Viola Davis), as she gathers together a band of villains including Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie), hitman Deadshot (Will Smith), Captain Boomerang (Jai Courtney) and Killer Croc (Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje) to form Taskforce X. To incentivise the bad guys to work together, they are offered clemency or death, and unsurprisingly, they choose to live, but just how cooperative they are going to be remains to be seen, even when faced with a worse evil than they.
THE VERDICT: After months of trailers, TV spots and a frank overuse of the song “Ballroom Blitz”, ‘Suicide Squad’ is finally released in cinemas this week. Following on from the dark and muddled ‘Batman Vs Superman: Dawn of Justice’, ‘Suicide Squad’ promised to be a fun, funny and over the top action movie, and set up a whole new franchise to boot. The trouble is that while ‘Suicide Squad’ is a marked improvement over ‘Batman Vs Superman’, there is a feeling of familiarity about the whole thing, and that’s nothing to do with the characters.
Margot Robbie leads the cast as Harley Quinn, former psychiatrist turned paramour of The Joker (Jared Leto), and while she does well with what she is given, there is the feeling that Quinn is not as crazy as the dialogue would have us believe, since there are times when the character seems more mischievous than mad. Will Smith takes on the role of Deadshot, a hitman for hire whose only weak spot is for his young daughter. Smith is fine, but again, there is the feeling that Deadshot is less a villain and more a man obsessed with making money and a family bond with his daughter. Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje does well with the physicality of Killer Croc, but he, Jai Courtney and Jay Hernandez as Diablo have significantly less to do. Elsewhere, Viola Davis makes Amanda Waller tough, no-nonsense and often frightening in her coldness, Joel Kinnaman does fine with Rick Flag and Cara Delevigne gets the physicality of June Moon / Enchantress down, but once again does not have a lot to do. Jared Leto takes on the role of The Joker, and although his appearance has been long awaited, he does not get a lot of time to show off his version of the Clown Prince of Crime in the movie, but there is the feeling that this is a new cinematic version of The Joker. Just as the audience begins to warm to this new version of the character, however, he is taken off screen and out of the action.
As screenwriter, it really feels as though David Ayer is trying to take a page out of the uber successful ‘Guardians of the Galaxy’ book, and while there is nothing inherently wrong with this, it does give the film a strong feeling of familiarity. As well as this, the film is not quite as funny as it should be; Margot Robbie brings a lot of laughs as Harley Quinn, and Jai Courtney has some nice moments, but the comedy is left to just two of the crew, which means it feels patchy and uneven. The set up of all these new characters feels rushed at times – especially since we do not get a lot of time with some of them – and the overall story feels rather small stakes.
As director, David Ayer has made each of the characters strong in their physicality, but obviously spent more time on Harley and Deadshot than the rest of the team. The set pieces are fun but, as with ‘Batman Vs Superman’, are starved of light, making them feel a little muddled at times, and although the pacing works well, the feeling of familiarity throughout the film is just compounded by the admittedly great retro soundtrack, which includes Bohemian Rhapsody, Sympathy for the Devil, Super Freak and Spirit in the Sky. The use of these songs also makes the film feel episodic at times, as though we are watching a selection of music videos rather than a coherent film.
In all, ‘Suicide Squad’ is a vast improvement on the dark and depressing ‘Batman Vs Superman: Dawn of Justice’, but in trying to be fun and playful, begins to feel familiar and much like any comic book film to date. Margot Robbie stands out as Harley Quinn, and it will be interesting to see where Jared Leto takes his version of The Joker, but while there is fun to be had with ‘Suicide Squad’, it ends up feeling familiar and too much as though it is trying to be fun and funny without a strong enough script.
RATING: 3/5
Review by Brogen Hayes

  • filmbuff2011

    If Marvel’s Guardians Of The Galaxy was The Beatles, then the flipside is DC’s Suicide Squad, which is The Rolling Stones. Fitting very much into an ever-expanding DC cinematic universe, Suicide Squad is the superhero movie reverse engineered to become something sharp, cynical and slyly funny.

    Given concerns about the arrival of another Superman and the misuse of potentially devastating powers, hard-as-nuts Government spook Amanda (Viola Davis) sets out to counter-act this with a back-up plan: a group of really rotten incarcerated eggs who might just find find something in common and fight for good for a change. That is, if she can control them. There’s Deadshot (Will Smith), an ace hitman whose only weakness is his young daughter; loopy Harlequin (Margot Robbie), who is definitely a couple of sandwiches short of a picnic; roughneck Aussie Boomerang (Jai Courtney); one-man flamethrower Diablo (Jay Hernandez) and crocodile-skin hulk Killer Croc (Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje). Along for the ride is soldier Rick (Joel Kinnaman), who is tasked by Amanda to keep them under control. She has a bigger problem though: witch Enchantress (Cara Delevingne) who she practically keeps like a genie in a bottle but who is looking to escape. And then there’s the wild card: The Joker (Jared Leto), who wants his girlfriend Harlequin back…

    It’s hard to understand why film critics are flinging Kryptonite at Suicide Squad. Currently sitting at 29% on Rottentomatoes (which some superhero fans want to shut down simply because it makes a collective critical opinion), there could be a disconnect between critics and audiences on this film. A more measured view from a fan of the genre is that Suicide Squad, judged on its own terms, is actually pretty good fun.

    The script by uncompromising director David Ayer, with uncredited work by comic book artist John Ostrander, is loaded with smart one-liners and a dark, twisted sense of humour. This reviewer wouldn’t expect any less from Ayer, who has made a career out of hard-hitting films like End Of Watch and Harsh Times. Knowing that Marvel’s films are usually heroic and optimistic, Ayer plays around with the conventions of the superhero film here. There’s a wonderfully-written scene that occurs towards the end in which our misfit gang take a break and have a drink in a bar before gearing up for the finale. It’s the highlight of a film that is playful, violent and unpredictable at best.

    The cast really go full-throttle at their characters too. Perhaps wisely turning down Independence Day: Resurgence, Smith has scored one of his best roles in recent years with Deadshot. Robbie continues to charm with another role that shows her range – she’s much more than just a pretty face. Davis and Kinnaman also do solid work in supporting roles. And then there’s Leto’s Joker… Obviously conscious of previous incarnations (including Heath Ledger’s unforgettable turn), Leto has dug deep to find another shade for The Joker: one that is wilder and more punk-like. It’s an impressive turn that stands on its own, though a little under-used – maybe he’s being held back for now.

    While the grand finale can feel like a bunch of pixels bashing each other, Ayer refocuses the story on the real heroes, or rather anti-heroes, of the story. They’re a variable bunch when viewed solo, but they’re dynamite when working together. There’s definitely room for a sequel and a bigger role in the DC Cinematic Universe. That is, The B Team to The Justice League. Borrowing a leaf from Marvel’s playbook, there’s a mid-credits teaser which is worth staying for. Simply put, Suicide Squad is a riot and should hopefully go down well with audiences. ****

  • Sasha Kinch

    Having seen the slating reviews, I expected a sub-par plot line, badly crafted characters and weak script. And perhaps having low expectations coloured my view, however, I was very pleasantly surprised.

    Now before I continue, I must add that I have not read any of the Suicide Squad comics.

    The movie starts with an almost back-to-back montage of information slots. It felt weak, but was necessary to get the back stories of each of the soon-to-be members of the Suicide Squad. These montage stories formed the basis upon which character development continues. And the characters are delightful, from the rather serious Deadshot (Will Smith) to the incredibly fascinating Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie), there is depth, realism (in the face of fantasy) and growth for each of the characters. David Ayer’s careful directing means we see micromoments as the plot develops that add to the depth of the characters.

    The plot is weak at the start, mostly due to the montage-like treatment, but it does build well, and unlike so many DC films, doesn’t contain massive plot flaws. The realistic relationship dramas between the characters add to the layers – I came away dissecting each interpersonal relationship to see if they worked – and they did! With a sly (at times twisted) sense of humour, the film flows beautifully. That, accompanied by the spectacular cinematography and choreography are spectacular makes for a very enjoyable view.

    And as a bonus, the soundtrack is epic if you like semi dark urban indie/rap. Highly recommend.

  • emerb

    Without a doubt, “Suicide Squad” is one of this summer’s biggest hopes for movie fans worldwide. The hype and buzz surrounding this film has been phenomenal and while director David Ayer’s film may not always work, when it does, it’s a sheer delight. It takes a different approach to the standard superhero movie and after a number of recent flops, it comes at a time when this genre of movie has to evolve or basically die a death. We have seen Ayer’s work before in cop dramas and war movies – “End Of Watch” and “Fury” – so he seems like an unlikely choice to rescue a comic-book blockbuster series but thankfully he pulls it off in style.
    The world is under threat after Batman v Superman, and this is what pushes machiavellian government agent Amanda Waller (a cruel and ruthless but excellent Viola Davis) to try something pretty crazy. She intends to assemble a top secret mishmash band of psycho assassins – ‘meta-humans’- to fight evil. One by one the Squad is gathered and their modus operandi will be to work for her on deadly missions. The film’s opening 20 minutes is almost entirely made up of introductory sequences for each of the villains and I loved this part. Will Smith is Deadshot, a former gang member and cold-blooded assassin for hire who still loves his daughter and won’t kill any women or children. Margot Robbie is psychiatrist turned psychopath Harley Quinn who got seduced by the Joker (Jared Leto) and is now a superfreak bad girl, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje is the cannibalistic Killer Croc, El Diablo is a former gangman who can instantly incinerate half a prison yard if he gets too angry but now just wants a peaceful life and there are more! Waller has also recruited the Enchantress a/k/a June
    Moon (Cara Delevingne), an archaeologist who accidentally unleashed the soul of an ancient witch and can now pass through dimensions and cast spells. Heading up the team is Special Forces officer Colonel Rick Flag (Joel Kinnaman)
    who has fallen in love with Enchantress. Problem is that the Enchantress has no interest in being controlled by anyone. She finds a way to slip free from Waller’s grasp, and so the rest of the team must take her down, along with her ancient spirit brother Incubus (Alain Chanoine) before they the pair take over the world by building a machine to destroy humanity.
    What’s most interesting about this film is the friction between the wacky characters. Because of the size of the cast, some of the potentially interesting characters get side lined, for example samurai warrior Katana (Karen Fukuhara) and Australian hoodlum Captain Boomerang (Jai Courtney). Will Smith’s Deadshot is at the emotional centre of the film and this is one of his best roles in years, he fully convinces us in his bad ass role. Clearly Margot Robbie is having a blast as the gyrating, unhinged, acrobatic, utterly nutty Harley Quinn Harley and her undying love for the Joker is a hoot. Speaking of the Joker, Leto’s twistedly romantic villain may be a far cry from the character presented to us by
    the late Heath Ledger but yet it works. We see little of him but when we do, he steals every scene. He’s a real live wire, with his bright-green hair, shiny metal teeth and wide scary grin, himself and Robbie make a real lasting impression in their fleeting scenes together. Worth noting that Jay Hernandez also impresses as El Diablo, a fiery L.A. gang leader with a horrific backstory.
    “Suicide Squad” gets many things right and I liked it a lot. After all, what’s not to love about an all-star team of psychotically sociopathic antiheroes doing good by being bad?! In the end what makes it work for me is the characters. The plot itself is fairly standard save-the-city-from-destruction but the crew are great
    fun and we enjoy the way they banter and distrust each other, revealing who they are. This movie is a rare superhero movie where I found myself actually caring about the characters and their back stories. The dialogue is sharp and witty, the story moves along swiftly and it’s all presented stylishly. “Suicide Squad” is quirky, lively, fun and welcome addition to the superhero movie franchise. Mark my words, you ain’t seen the last of this bad ass crew!

  • Joseph McCarthy

    What was the Great White Hope of the DC Movie Universe starts out well, but quickly turns out to be a bit of a disjointed mess with seemingly random editing choices spoiling the flow of the movie, some characters introduced multiple times and others disappearing as quickly as they appear.