Directed & Written by: David Ayer
Cast: Jared Leto, Viola Davis, Margot Robbie, Will Smith, Joel Kinnaman & others.
Released: August 5th 2016
To say that Suicide Squad is exactly as advertised would be something of lie. Saying this in no way means that it wasn’t a well-made and thoroughly enjoyable film – it was. What it actually means is the vibe we were given from the extensive marketing and trailers, is not the one that translates on screen. Before the film’s release, we were treated to in depth looks at the characters, they were fleshed out in bios and footage – however, what we get in the film itself is some rushed backstories in the first half an hour of the runtime and then a whole lot of a single mission in less than a day that seems to cement the team completely.
With shoe-horned appearances from members of the Justice League (which would’ve had more impact if it weren’t for the fact most of us have already seen the trailer for the 2017 movie, well done DC) and forgettable villains, the plot for Suicide Squad is a means to an end. It gets us from A – Amanda Waller (Viola Davis) introduces us to the team, to B – the Suicide Squad saves the world, in classic superhero movie style. Even with this, however, Suicide Squad is (quite literally) lighter and brighter than DC’s past efforts. Though the film deals with themes that are arguably a lot darker than those of Batman vs Superman and Man of Steel, it does so with a fresh and original aesthetic that brings its crazy cast to life.
It is the cast that really makes the film so enjoyable, the crazy, but dangerous mix of personalities who bring the “story” to life. Time to be very honest here – the ‘cast of characters’ I refer to are Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie) and the Joker (Jared Leto). Leto in his role as the classic villain doesn’t have as much screen time as he should (or indeed as the promotions would have had you believe) but nevertheless his performance is as noteworthy as you would expect from the Oscar-winner who spent a year living as the Joker on set. Many will say that Heath Ledger was the ultimate Joker, but these are the people who do not recognise the multi-faceted nature of the character. Ledger’s performance was dark and gloriously insane, but Leto brings an intensity to the role that makes him chilling without actually having to personally take part in much of the violence, unlike Harley. Thankfully, their relationship features a lot less of the violence than there is in the comic books – to each other at least – and it is refreshing to see that in this story. Joker is the one who is more attached, doing whatever he needs to get Harley back, as she takes on the role of the Squad’s most badass character – a role rarely given to an actress over an actor. Their relationship, provides some of the most poignant moments in the film – the others surprisingly coming from Rick Flag (Joel Kinnaman) in his relationship with archaeologist/Enchantress aka June (Cara Delevigne), tested at the hands of Waller’s lead. In the characterisation of Waller and the US government, director David Ayer’s military background definitely does something to ground the story, by making their actions, both in the interest of national security and in their own interest more believable. But, despite not being the obvious villain of the story, Waller is definitely the most terrifying character. She is cold and calculating, has each member of the team in the palm of her hand, and she knows exactly where to hit them so it hurts the most.
As far as the other members of the Squad go, it’s a little lacklustre. Deadshot (Will Smith) is as funny and charismatic as you would expect, though his character amounts to ‘Will Smith with some guns’ – and the continuous spotlight on him means that other characters fade into the background, with sword-wielding Katana (Karen Fukuhara) and Killer Croc (Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje) having little impact on the story at all. Then, of course, there is Diablo (Jay Hernandez) who is so racially stereotyped, that it borders on offensive and even gets a little uncomfortable after a while. Yet, the exception to the bland secondary squad members is Digger Harkness a.k.a. Captain Boomerang (Jai Courtney) who provides excellent comic relief as the Aussie thief with a bizarre pink unicorn fetish, proving that, despite numerous bad performances, Courtney has found a role that he fits like a glove. As those of us who have been following the film closely are aware, Scott Eastwood’s role in the film has been closely guarded, with many suggesting that he might be taking on the role of Deathstroke. To avoid disappointment, his character has little to no impact on the story whatsoever and in fact doesn’t exist in the comic book universe, so don’t get your hopes up.
So, if you’re looking for a masterful cinematic experience, Suicide Squad might not be for you, but if you’re looking for a film you’ll enjoy, then look no further. With this film, Warner Bros. makes a decent attempt at a rival for Marvel’s recent hits, and proves once and for all that their villains are a lot more interesting than their heroes.
Suicide Squad gets 4 out of 5 pink unicorns – just keep them out of Boomerang’s reach.