DC’s dim and dirty dozen

This self-con­scious ‘dark’ fan­tasy is at least bet­ter than Bat­man v Su­per­man, writes Don­ald Clarke

The Irish Times - Friday - The Ticket - - FILM REVIEWS -

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

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