Amongst the many things I’ve been looking forward to this year, the movie adaptation of ‘Suicide Squad’ was high up on the list. It’s a comic book created by John Ostrander that will always have a special place in my heart. The first issues I came across were a gift from the only time I met my Grandfather before his death. The moment the intriguing teaser trailer debuted at San Diego Comic Con in 2015, I was hooked. I got myself ready for a fun thrill ride that would be gritty and outrageous just like the comics. Sadly, this movie didn’t meet my expectations and is only just enjoyable.
The Suicide Squad are a ragtag group of criminals and freaks assembled by government agent Amanda Waller in response to what she perceives to as the potential threat that may arise from the presence of ‘Meta-Humans’ (Superman, The Flash etc.) amongst us. When a new threat surfaces, Deadshot, Harley Quinn, El Diablo, Killer Croc, Captain Boomerang and Slipknot are released from prison (albeit with explosive devices in their necks) under the command of Col. Rick Flagg with a set of simple instructions; recuse a high value person and return them to safety or die. But, as he hastily gathered team are thrown into an increasingly bizarre and dangerous situation, they come to realise that all is not what it seems and the threat they face is unlike anything they could have imagined…
This movie really is a mess. There I said it. I’m not happy saying it because I really wanted to come of the cinema absolutely loving it, but there’s simply no denying it. Firstly, the positives. The performances of the key cast members are all terrific. Will Smith’s Deadshot is a charismatic and haunted soul. His character is given a lot of development and he mostly shines whilst on the screen. It was the most un-Will Smith(without the forced humour) like performance I have seen in awhile and it would be fascinating to see more of him, hopefully in that Ben Affleck solo Batman movie? Margot Robbie simply IS Harley Quinn. She is adorable and yet terrifying, funny and yet oddly stoic, her portrayal of the character is now very close to being the definitive and her popularity should quite rightly soar. Jay Hernandez is brilliant as El Diablo, he’s arguably the most sympathetic character in the film and he makes the most of it with a performance of subtlety and depth that gives the movie some much needed credibility. Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje gives Killer Croc lost of presence and a touch of humanity, and this must be the first film I’ve seen recently where I have not wanted to strangle Jai Courtney with a pair of my dirty socks. His Captain Boomerang is very, very funny! Kitana and Slipknot are not given much screen time, but Adam Beach and Karen Fukuhara do well with what they have. Joel Kinnaman is fine as Rick Flagg, but perhaps my favourite performance in the film came from Viola Davis as Amanda Waller. I was hoping to that Ms Davis would bring the goods, and boy did she deliver! Amanda Waller is as cold and calculating in the movie as she is in the comics, but Davis also brought considerable menace and intimidation to role. Fans are going to get a real kick out of seeing ‘The Wall’ being a ruthless manipulator who will do just about anything to get the job done. Jared Leto as The Joker will take some getting used to for some people, but I enjoyed this fresh take on a well worn character.
Having said all the above the characters, I have some major grumbles with the film and it’s presentation and I’m going to be covering some minor spoilers here, so skip to the end if you dont want to know anything! As you may have all heard by now, there are rumors circulating around Hollywood that the cut of the film shown in cinemas was not necessarily the original cut. This seems very plausible to me as the editing in this film leaves a lot to be desired. There are a number of scenes that have clearly been cut out of the film entirely, and as a result of this, the whole film feels like it is missing key information that would have explained certain characters motivations and whereabouts at certain points in the film. There is one particular point in the film where a character vanishes from the story, only to magically reappear at another point with no explanation for their absence! The plot also suffers because of this, feeling hugely disjointed in places and dialogue does not have the impact it should in some scenes. In particular, there is a scene which features the main characters in a bar reflecting on their next move. As a climax to this scene, Rick Flagg reveals some information that should have been given to Deadshot sometime ago. Deadshot’s reaction to this makes absolutely no sense in the context of the story up to that point and it undermines the fine work that the actors have done to create a sense of tension. The 3rd act of the film is also flat, as the mission the squad is on peters out meekly into a confrontation with the villain, it really loses steam. There are some nice visuals as El Diablo finally embraces his powers, but it was hard to shake the feeling that I had seen similar scenes executed in a far more convincing fashion in other movies. And speaking of villains, good grief what the hell was going on with Enchantress? The character moves like a body popper on acid, her motivations make no sense at all, and the climax with her character is once again let down by poor editing. If we do get a Suicide Squad sequel, I hope Enchantress is not a part of it. The character was deeply irritating every time she was on screen and she got a lot of screen time. The visual effects for her character are a mess, murky black clouds that I had hoped we had moved away from after the twin travesties of ‘Fantastic Four: Rise Of The Silver Surfer’ and ‘Green Lantern’ but I guess that that seems to be the only imaginative way to show anything other worldly in Hollywood.
Some of the action sequences are disappointingly sloppy and difficult to experience because they seem to be so poorly filmed. I had huge problems with the 3D rendering in this film, at times it was incredibly hard to distinguish exactly what was happening and to whom. Apart from one sequence in a battle scene where Deadshot gets to display his lethal skills, there’s really not a lot of stand out moments. One has to really appreciate the amount that Margot Robbie manages to pull off whilst wearing heels, it’s just shame no camera operator bothered to frame it properly so we could actually appreciate it!
Alot of the supporting characters are forgettable because there really is nothing for them to do in this film. Ike Barinholtz character mostly falls flat because it feels like a lot of his performance was left on the cutting room floor and Common’s cameo could frankly of been played by anybody.
The original soundtrack was actually really good, but there is then some tacked on ‘Greatest Hits’ compilation that just does not fit the movie as a whole. At points it actually led to me being taken out of the movie experience.
I would love to say that you should all rush out and see this movie, but unfortunately it’s very divisive. There’s things that you will enjoy about the movie, but there are also glaring problems. I would say that it is entirely up to the individual to decide on whether they intend to see this movie or not, but having seen it, I can only say that it should have been so much more than it actually was. I can only hope that in Wonder Woman, we get a DC movie that we can all get behind.
Final score: 2.5 out of 5.
Don forget, if you want an alternative viewpoint on the movie, you can check out Richard’s Bite Size review right here!