A secret government agency recruits imprisoned supervillains to execute dangerous black ops missions in exchange for clemency.
Following on from the disappointment of ‘Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice’, DC Comics must have been hoping for a hit with the more offbeat ‘Suicide Squad’, a film focusing on a collection of well known villains from their back catalogue as they try to expand on the comic book universe ahead of the upcoming ‘Justice League’. Time will tell if the film will be a success commercially, but unfortunately this is another mediocre and muddled effort and I didn’t find much to like. ‘Suicide Squad’ is loud and brash in all the worst ways, with a poor script, some cringeworthy dialogue and a premise that makes very little sense to begin with. Perhaps the most disappointing element of a film marketed and touted as something a little more out there and leftfield is that hidden underneath everything is a generic comic book movie with nothing original or fresh to add.
The premise of ‘Suicide Squad’ focuses on a secret government agency with a remit to recruit imprisoned supervillains to take part in dangerous missions in exchange for reduced prison time. This is explained in a flashy opening, as Amanda Waller (Viola Davis) tries to get the mission signed off by her superiors, but it doesn’t really explain why you would turn to a group of evil criminals in a world where the likes of Batman exists. Regardless, there’s no point dwelling on the plausibility of the premise given what we seem to be set up for has some promise, particularly once we get to know the supervillains. This is the best bit of the film as we’re speedily introduced to all the characters in a way that feels pacey but not rushed, and if the remainder of the film could have maintained the tone of these introductions this movie would have been a lot more fun. Instead, ‘Suicide Squad’ descends into a generic action movie and it’s not nearly as interesting. Ultimately, ‘Suicide Squad’ is nowhere near as fun or as engaging as it could be, and it gets genuinely awful with some of the more ‘serious’ dialogue that gets thrown in towards the end of the movie.
I liked elements of the film and I think David Ayer does a good job of giving us a feel for who these characters are, and I’ll be intrigued to see more of them going forward. Like ‘Batman v Superman’, this isn’t a good film, but it does provide some of the character development and set up that will help with future DC films, providing they don’t hit the reboot button. The performances are pretty good across the board, with the highly anticipated turn from Jared Leto as The Joker living up to its potential. Leto is menacing and unsettling in a role that had a very high bar set by Heath Ledger and it’s a shame that we didn’t see more of him in this film. Perhaps the biggest failing of ‘Suicide Squad’ is in the atrocious villain, another mess of effects and CGI with a boring world destruction motivation as filtered through Cara Delevingne. In a film that introduces a series of essentially evil supervillains and tries to shade them in a little, we really could have done with something smaller scale or subtle to provide an intriguing balance. The overly fantastical elements of the enchantress feels like a step too far even for a comic book universe and the world domination plot provides little scope to deliver something more engaging than a standard good vs evil climax.
DC are really struggling to develop their cinematic universe effectively and ‘Suicide Squad’ is another dent in their attempts, but if they can build on some of the strong performances and signs of promise and move away from an approach that is too safe, uninspiring and predictable then all may not be lost.
Directed By: David Ayer
Starring: Will Smith, Jared Leto, Margot Robbie, Joel Kinnaman, Viola Davis, Jai Courtney, Jay Hernandez, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, Ike Barinholtz, Scott Eastwood and Cara Delevingne