Sui­cide Squad

★★★

HK Magazine - - FILM - Eve­lyn Lok

(USA) Ac­tion. Di­rected by David Ayer. Star­ring Mar­got Rob­bie, Will Smith, Vi­ola Davis, Jared Leto, Cara Delev­ingne. Cat­e­gory IIA. 123 min­utes. Opened Aug 4.

Ex­pec­ta­tions for “Sui­cide Squad” were sky high as soon as the early trail­ers were re­leased at the be­gin­ning of the year. But if the trail­ers elicited a sense of hun­gry an­tic­i­pa­tion (can’t wait to see Jared Leto’s Joker! What crazy things is Har­ley Quinn go­ing to do? Mar­got Rob­bie is su­per hot!), the fea­ture it­self doesn’t come close to sat­ing that ap­petite.

Led by Vi­ola Davis as hardass gov­ern­ment in­tel­li­gence of­fi­cer Amanda Waller, the coun­try’s most dan­ger­ous, most se­curely in­car­cer­ated su­pervil­lains are forced to work for a se­cret gov­ern­ment agency to pro­tect Amer­ica against the threat of alien in­va­sion—that is to say, if Su­per­man goes rogue. If they refuse the mis­sion or run, they are killed by a pill-sized ex­plo­sive im­planted in their necks.

In an over­pop­u­lated genre sprin­kled with a few gen­uinely com­pelling films, you would think a movie about a band of deadly crim­i­nals who are forced to save the world would try to break the mold. But this is a pretty un­even at­tempt.

As the film rolls on, it be­comes ap­par­ent that too lit­tle time has been spent build­ing char­ac­ters ev­ery­one knows and wants to see (such as The Joker and Har­ley Quinn), while too much ef­fort has been de­voted to mi­nor char­ac­ters that peo­ple only sorta kinda know (Killer Croc? Boomerang?).

The filmmakers did try: Har­ley Quinn’s char­ac­ter is won­der­fully hu­man­ized by Mar­got Rob­bie, who demon­strates she’s much more than just legs and sass by show­ing what it re­ally means to be crazy in love—and in love with The Joker, no less. It’s only a shame that the ro­man­tic back­story of these two is given such scant treat­ment. And while Jared Leto turns in a solid per­for­mance with his manic, play­ful, wise-yet-un­hinged Joker, he’s as­suredly no Heath Ledger.

Nowa­days what sep­a­rates a great su­per­hero movie from the run-of-the-mill is a film’s abil­ity (or lack thereof) to ra­tio­nal­ize the char­ac­ters’ ex­is­tence: why, for ex­am­ple, are su­per­heroes still fly­ing around in capes in 2016? Some cru­cial plot points jar badly with the viewer’s will­ing sus­pen­sion of dis­be­lief, such as the in­tro­duc­tion of the 1,000-year-old quasi-de­ity En­chantress, who ends up as the film’s bad­dest bad­die by threat­en­ing to de­stroy the world (of course). But how can you set up some sort of god-like vil­lain sim­ply to have them (oh… spoil­ers!) de­stroyed by a mor­tal weapon?

Sim­i­larly, hir­ing a cast of en­tirely like­able ac­tors for the epony­mous squad makes it very dif­fi­cult to ac­cept that they’re su­pervil­lains. Case in point is Dead­shot, played by Will Smith, a mer­ce­nary “papa with a cause” who we can’t be­lieve har­bors an iota of evil in his be­ing.

Walk­ing out of the cin­ema, we’re left en­tirely un­con­vinced, though not un­en­ter­tained. “Sui­cide Squad” is drawn out, patchy, and dot­ted with un­nec­es­sary char­ac­ters and events that barely add up. But at least it’s not as bad as “Fan­tas­tic Four.”

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