Fresh on the trail of the overly disappointing ‘Batman v Superman: Dawn Of Justice’, comes an attempt to inject some fun, attitude and star quality to the DCU whilst ever-expanding their foundations in now just three films. Here we have a group of super-villains who belong to various members of the Justice League working together in their own movie which has lots of goals:
1) Set up more characters and relationships
2) Make the DCU seem fun again
3) Lay the setting for future films
While it ticks the boxes, it does so in a very underwhelming and generic way. I found it more entertaining than ‘BvS’, but only because we were allowed to laugh a little at cheeky, mature gags, able to see a good deal of what was going on and not having to sit through 2.5hrs of grim, boring story that never seemed to go anywhere. Anyway, I digress.
2hrs is used decently in run-time, but with so many characters the general audience won’t know about or even care for at the end of this, we have lots of quirky introductions that just waste time quite frankly. Mixed with quirky performances from our actors and a random use of classic pop-culture related music, it’s a strange tone to set in a series of films that, quite frankly, doesn’t know what it wants to be. I feel this film is directed straight to the teen audience, and the hardcore fans who will pretty much accept whatever is given to them from DC.
Will Smith is Will Smith – cool, has a heart, and has a story. He’s not believable as a villainous assassin, but he at least steals the show and lets you have fun with him. Margot Robbie is of course visually acceptable as Harley Quinn and looks the part, but soon becomes annoying after the initial few scenes we have with her; a very 2D character with a rushed backstory. Although if you like to look at her arse in hot-pants, you’ll be sorted because nearly every shot of Harley starts with a low-angle ass shot from behind. As I said…teens will love this.
Our other squad members are pretty basic and not very memorable. Jai Courtney is having a blast as Captain Boomerang (who?) and Jay Hernandez makes El Diablo (who?) a villain with a heart, and we have a few other characters just thrown in there. They are ok, but nothing ground-breaking. Joel Kinnamen plays the pissed-off, tough US soldier as expected when working with people he doesn’t like, and the supporting cast do a decent enough job. Scott Eastwood has never looked more like his father also in this – he’s got the chiselled jaw and piercing squint his father had at that age.
Jared Leto as the Joker doesn’t deserve much focus on because he’s hardly in it. You’ve seen all his scenes in trailers, and why he was marketed so much is beyond me. Well, it’s not – it was to sell the film on the basis of this iconic character. Once you’re there however, he pops up now and then, laughs a little, looks a bit perverse and tries to be intimidating. It doesn’t work. Again, a rushed intro, no idea to who or why he is what he is. At least with Jack Nicholson and Heath Ledger we were offered clues and insight into their Joker character. Leto is given nothing, and for an introduction to such an iconic villain, he falls flat. He’s just a gangster who likes gold and runs a strip-club with a fascination for Harley Quinn. That’s all I got out of it. He’s not a threat, he’s not really clever or calculating…he’s just…meh.
So basically everyone here is “ok”, but there isn’t much meat to chew on, and you just accept who they are and what they do, which is basically run, shout, stab and shoot. That’s it. Very few “super-powers” are used in the exception of Enchantress (a character who goes from creepy to comedic unintentionally) and Diablo (the most interesting of all the squad in the end). The problem is, by casting the big Hollywood stars to front this, all the “villains” turn out to be softies with hearts trying to do the right thing. They aren’t villains in the way you’d expect them to be, because we have to like them. So we have to like our heroes and villains in all films. That leaves future villains to be, what, soulless CGI creations? We’ve had that already DC, and it’s awful! Even here, the MAIN villain(s) of the piece are nothing but cast offs from ‘Gods Of Egypt’ in over-used CGI nonsense bordering on more inter-galactic action you don’t care about.
For such a big film that depends on the stars fronting it, it’s only Will Smith and Margot Robbie who just about hold it together in their own way, but not without the general blips like lack of chemistry, shoe-horning in of characters for no real reason and a very rushed narrative that starts to end as soon as it starts to get going.
Director David Ayer, known for his realistic action thrillers like ‘End Of Watch’ and the lacklustre ‘Sabotage’ brings his action to things here, giving us lots of military helicopter crashes and chases, gun-fights with US special forces and buildings being destroyed. That amounts to all the action you’ll get here, so just enjoy the quirky characters doing what they do as they do it amidst a whole heap of Zach Snyder’s cartoonish visuals and slo-mo shots that soon become tiresome.
That’s my problem – as much as a few scenes are entertaining for generic action film junkies, the tone and idea is a mess. DC don’t seem to know what they want from their films, and it shows with the jumbled mess of their presentations, be it pace, editing, characters or tone. Each film is trying to compensate for the faults addressed in the one before. All I can say from what I’ve seen of the DC future is at least ‘Wonder Woman’ has a chance to distance itself by doing a ‘Captain America’ and being set in a different time period so we don’t get daft cameos or links to other current events.
Best thing in this film for me? Aside from Katana who just seems to kick ass with her samurai sword and awesome looking mask, it’s all about Batman. And all of the minute he’s in it for – at least we get a glimpse of him doing what we expect Batman to do finally on screen rather than mope around battling Superman. Ben Affleck convinced me more in his short screen-time here than he did in the 2.5hrs he had before that his Batman could still yet deliver as a strong and dark super-hero in a future solo film.
So this may be a hit of course with bankable stars and a quirky, fan-boy pleasing roster of characters, but at the end of the day, it’s a generic action film that doesn’t feel much like a collection of villains at all, and certainly gives me a rather damp view on this supposed “Suicide Squad” I expected big things from.