Mixed form for crazed crew
DC Comics’ latest attempt to build a cinematic universe capable of challenging rival Marvel sees the studio turn to some of their best known bad guys... and girls.
The menagerie of maniacs – including assassin Deadshot (Will Smith), criminal Boomerang ( Jai Courtney) and the monstrous Killer Croc (Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje) – are forced to team up by the government to execute dangerous missions in exchange for clemency.
Suicide Squad has a difficult act to follow coming hot on the heels of Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice – not in terms of that film’s quality, but the critical pounding it took across the globe.
Thankfully Suicide Squad makes for a better watch – but only by a very fine margin as it fails to deliver on the promise shown by the multitude of trailers and TV spots.
Writer-director David Ayer is no stranger to testosterone-fuelled ensemble pieces (Fury, Sabotage) and gritty banter (End of Watch, his script for Training Day) but the uneven tone, at times shoddy special effects and addition of DC heroes to the mix screams of studio tinkering.
One of the biggest flaws in Batman v Superman was the lack of humour and its stern, too-dark tone, and Suicide Squad deserves credit for addressing that elephant in the room.
Smith – in his highest profile role since 2012’s Men in Black 3 – returns to the wise-cracking, smart-mouth he plays best, Courtney – not my favourite actor – is bristling with charisma... and then there’s Margot Robbie’s Harley Quinn.
Robbie has stolen the show in the movie’s marketing campaign as the manic psychiatristturned-jester finally gets her time to shine on film, and the Aussie’s unhinged, cute-and-crazy turn is like seeing the comic book incarnation literally leap onto the screen.
Jared Leto does well too as the latest take on iconic villain The Joker. He’s no Heath Ledger, but his chilling cackle, mobster boss edge and romantic leanings towards Harley ensure the pre-release controversy relating to his tattooed, metal-toothed appearance is quickly forgotten.
It’s just a shame we don’t see more of him – and Ben Affleck’s cameoing Batman – and less of some of the inferior performers in the Squad.
Akinnuoye-Agbaje, Jay Hernandez (Diablo) and Cara Delevingne (Enchantress) are the more super-powered members of the team but find themselves hindered by mediocre makeup and CGI, and the likes of Karen Fukuhara (Katana) and Joel Kinnaman (Rick Flag) just make up the – too large – numbers.
Guessing who makes it out alive keeps interest alive, and there are many visuals to live long in the memory, but events never quite live up to the early promise and the mix of day-glo and grim and grimy never feels like a happy marriage.
However, for DC’s cinematic output it’s still round one to the bad guys – just – and now it’s over to Gal Gadot’s Wonder Woman to take things to the next level – and ensure the critics’ knives are left in their drawers.
Bad to the bone Some of the Squad huddle up