DC’s dim and dirty dozen
This self-conscious ‘dark’ fantasy is at least better than Batman v Superman, writes Donald Clarke
SUICIDE SQUAD ★★ Directed by David Ayer. Starring Will Smith, Jared Leto, Margot Robbie, Joel Kinnaman, Viola Davis, Jai Courtney, Cara Delevingne, Jay Hernandez. 15A cert, general release, 123 min
Have you not heard? The DC Universe is “darker” than its primary-coloured Marvel equivalent. All those who endured the murky sludge that was Batman v Superman will attest that this is literally so. The masters of this universe are, however, keener to stress the spiritual “darkness” at their films’ cores.
Is Suicide Squad “dark” in the manner of, say, Endgame or Cries and Whispers? Not so much. Picture a heavy metal bar in suburban Duluth and you’ll get some sense of the generic Goth aesthetic. How creaky is this approach? Do they so lack imagination as to play Sympathy for the Devil over the opening credits? Count on it, sister.
The scenario for the original comic looks to have been culled from The Dirty Dozen. Following the funeral of Superman (because he’s, like, dead and won’t ever be coming back, right?), the planet has fallen into a state of chaos.
Viola Davis, one of our greatest living actors, brings unnecessary class to the role of ruthless government wonk who has a plan: bring together the nastiest super-villains in custody and, offering them clemency, form the “darkest” of all crime-fighting teams.
It’s hard to think of a film whose opening third has been so swallowed up with exposition. Davis’s Amanda Waller takes the top brass to a nice restaurant and begins talking them (and us) through the vast dramatis personæ. Each hyper-being possesses a special talent, a globule of humanising back-story and a name more suited to a Mexican wrestler.
So, Deadshot (Will Smith) is an expert marksman who cares very much for his young daughter. El Diablo (Jay Hernandez), able to summon fire, appears to have immolated his own family. Boomerang (Jai Courtney) throws magic boomerangs. Pancakeman has waffle irons for hands.
Okay, I made the last one up, but such a being would not be out of place beside Crocodile Man and the female samurai whose sword captures her victims’ souls (or something).
It’s scarcely possible for anybody not already soaked in this stuff to take in all the information. It’s like being stuck at a bad fancy dress party with a host who insists on introducing you to every one of his guests.
The most charismatic, played by Margot Robbie at