Suicide Squad, the latest addition to the DC Comics extended cinematic universe is here and while it’s not a complete disaster, it certainly comes close.
In Suicide Squad, shady government agent Amanda Waller (Viola Davis) recruits a team of Super-villains known as Task Force X, in order to combat a mystical, world-ending sorceress in the Enchantress (Cara Delevingne). The team includes Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie), Deadshot (Will Smith), Boomerang (Jai Courtney), Diablo (Jay Hernandez) and Killer-Croc (Killer Croc). They’re led by the super-soldier Rick Flag (Joel Kinnaman), as they try to band together to take on a common enemy, all while being bound from cutting-and-running to freedom by the fear of death at the hands of Waller.
The plot in Suicide Squad is very thin and one we’ve seen over and over again – an evil presence threatens to end the world – cue the hero (in this case anti-hero) team-up to stop them. We saw it in both The Avengers films and most recently in X-Men: Apocalypse amongst countless others. One thing the film tries to do is establish a villain with a lot of depth, which films set in the DC universe have had success with over its long history, and they almost get there with Enchantress. Her character had the potential to be great, but they missed the mark by giving her the most basic of motivations. Cara Delevingne’s performance in that role could have also been great, if it weren’t for some awful dialogue and awkward delivery.
The rest of the performances were fine and the characters all well-written. Will Smith and Margot Robbie get a fair bit of character development time as Deadshot and Harley Quinn; Jay Hernandez, Jai Courtney and Rick Flag get the second-most amount of time in their development as Diablo, Boomerang and Rick Flag; and Killer-Croc, while definitely having and intriguing background, is unfortunately demoted to just a background character. Jared Leto’s Joker also gets a limited amount of screen-time, but his impact is prominent.
Both Harley Quinn and Joker steal the show in Suicide Squad. Margot Robbie and Jared Leto both hit the mark in their interpretations of the characters, giving the film a huge lift whenever they’re on screen, be it alone or together. They’re performances leave you itching for a Joker/Harley Quinn standalone film down the line.
The film gets the characters right, but unfortunately as a whole they’re all under-developed. With so many characters, it’s hard to find the right balance and make a cohesive story that does them all justice. This lack of balance plagues the film as a whole. For instance, the film’s tone is dark (true to the style the DC extended universe has been aiming for), but not dark enough. It’s funny, but not funny enough. It’s action-packed and very stylised visually, but doesn’t incite any dropping-of-jaws from the audience.
Director David Ayer does his best to give the characters, plot, action and visual style of the film its due credit, but it just doesn’t quite get there. Juggling this amount of characters, with a sub-standard plot and also trying to keep fans and critics alike happy is a hard task for any director, so credit must still be given to Ayer for his attempt. It’s also quite obvious that the film had been edited in a way to meet the agenda of the powers that be, as you get a sense that a lot was held back, or re-cut to meet certain criteria.
Suicide Squad is a decent introduction to these lesser known characters, and an excellent introduction into Harley Quinn and the new Joker. It might do enough to please a younger teen audience, and well enough at the box-office to warrant a sequel or some standalone films, but there’s there’s really nothing in it for anyone looking for a film with a bit of depth. As a cinematic event-film, it barely succeeds in offering enough entertainment value.
To try and find the perfect Joker laugh, Jared Leto publicly tried different laughs in New York City and Toronto to see which ones made people the most uncomfortable.