Another week, another superhero movie. Except, this one is a bit different…sort of…it features a collection of villains from the DC universe.
Suicide Squad is a movie which is supposed to be the counter to Deadpool and the opposite of the Avengers and Justice League movies. Whether it succeeds is another matter, and here the massive box office numbers are countered by the negative critical reviews. It will be interesting to see how the second week for this movie goes.
The movie itself has little plot to speak of. The villains are recruited to take down an escaped interdimensional spirit named Enchantress. They are held in control by Amanda Waller (Viola Davis) and her sidekick Rick Flag (Joel Kinnaman) and forced to battle the menace.
That’s really it, though there are a huge amount of flashbacks which form a large part of the beginning of the movie.
The plot is paper thin and in the end almost incidental to what is really a movie to showpiece characters. In this, the movie is very lucky to have Margot Robbie as Harley Quinn and Will Smith as Deadshot. Robbie is astonishingly good as Harley, a role very easy to get wrong, and transforms the cartoon and comic character to the big screen very well. Will Smith plays essentially the same role he always does, but his presence is a stable rock around which the somewhat random other characters can hang onto.
The rest of the team is given varying levels of development ranging from a brief flashback to an extensive backstory. Of these only Jay Hernandez as Diablo makes much of an impression. Most of the team does very little and is there just to provide backup and/or comic relief at certain times. In reality the movie could lose two of these characters and lose nothing. Of note is Jai Courtney as Boomerang, an irritating Australian stereotype of the sort which always annoys me.
One other character in this movie (for some reason) is Jared Leto as the Joker. I say ‘for some reason’ because his role is only to provide a plot point and backstory for Haley Quinn. Leto as the Joker backs the manic charm of Jack Nicolson or the downright frightening menace of Heath Ledger. He is, quite simply, forgettable, and the Joker should never be that. In any case his role in the movie is almost incidental.
Another presence in the movie mainly in flashbacks is Ben Affleck as Batman/Bruce Wayne. He continues his strong performance in the role from Batman v Superman even if this is just a minor role.
And so with a thin plot, to many flashbacks and too many unnecessary characters, what is the viewer left with? To me, I was left with two overriding takeaways:
  • Again DC have tried to rush into one movie what should have been more organically introduced over several. The assorted flashbacks easily take up 10-15 minutes, and are handled with poor bridging dialogue. Again, DC provides they are the latecomers and are simply not as good as Marvel at making this sort of thing.
  • Whoever did the trailers for this movie needs a promotion and a pay rise. They took practically every good joke and scene from this and put it to catchy music and made the film look amazing. The fact it is on track box office opening records shows the marketing was effective in papering over the faults.
DC were hoping to make a movie as edgy and subversive as Deadpool (as much a PG-13 rating allows) and also make us want more films in this universe. In both they really fail. The creators pull punches on these characters and despite frequent references to it the ‘villains’ don’t do anything which is especially evil.
Overall Suicide Squad is an entertaining movie with one great and several good performances and good visuals. On the other hand it has a very poor plot, poor villains, tedious action and a general lack of villainy. If you go to see this you might enjoy it, but it will likely not be the movie you were hoping for.