Mixed form for crazed crew

Rutherglen Reformer - - The Ticket -

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

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