Suicide Squad

Director: David Ayers

Starring : Will Smith, Jared Leto, Margot Robbie, Jai Courtney, Viola Davis, Joe Kinnaman, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, Jay Hernandez, Cara Delevingne

Written by: David Ayers and (based on the comic book) John Ostrander

Running Time: 123 mins

Cert: 15

Release date: 5th August 2016

With Marvel seeming to rule the roost when it comes to superhero movies, after the disaster that was Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice, the second DC inspired comic book to film this year has been hyped to the hills with TV commercials and bus stops proudly showing the green poster for weeks now. Could this be the film that finally gives Iron Man and his clan a run for their money?

Tough, no-nonsense Amanda Waller is forming a secret government recruitment team made up of the worst villains around. Implanting an explosive in their necks, she can control their every move, as they are sent into the city on a suicide mission to save mankind from destruction. What she doesn’t know is that while they are fighting forces they don’t understand, a super villain is out to reclaim on of his own.

The idea of turning the superhero spotlight on the villains that infiltrate the world of Batman, Superman and other DC heroes is intriguing, crossing the Dirty Dozen with Escape From New York. It is often said that the most interesting characters in these movies are the bad guys. They allow actors to let themselves go and really go to town on making them outrageous and dangerous at the same time. Yet writer and director David Ayer, having this wonderful array of badness, doesn’t allow any room for them to chew the scenery, instead, he’s made them, well, soft.

The trouble with this is many. Firstly, having an array of characters like this and throwing them into a story without allowing us to spend time getting to know them does cause us to care very little for them. Actually, the first half hour plays out like several origin movies so we can understand why they are bad to the bones, even if these shorts don’t explain too much. Compared to the Avengers films, we were given several other movies to get under the skin of each protagonist, which then helped to understand their relationships to each other and how they got to where they are.

Ayers seems quite happy to think that the viewers already know about these people, which isn’t the case. Then instead of exploring their motives, he throws them into a pot of shooting, fighting, more shooting and even more shooting, occasionally having a quiet moment where they might explain who they are, which is interrupted by more shooting and fighting.

This is major problem number two. The film’s plot is complicated enough without having to have long scenes of destruction and violence. After a while, you start saying to yourself, you saw one shootout, you’ve seen them all. There never seems to be any development, just a mass of destruction leading to the inevitable showdown between bad guys and even worse guys.

What also doesn’t help matters is that there anti-heroes’ backstories make them more sympathetic. Will Smith, playing master hitman, Deadshot, can’t be all bad. He’s Will Smith, and Will Smith is a nice guy. So he gets to cuss a little more than usual and looks like a badass but he still has redeemable characteristics (in the shape of an 11-year-old daughter he dotes upon).  Jai Courtney’s Captain Boomerang, an Australian with a skill in boomerang throwing but a liking of pink unicorns, isn’t explained whatsoever, whereas Jay Hernandez’s Diablo, a fire-raising villain, is given a long backstory that tells us why he refuses to use his powers.

Which leads us onto Jared Leto’s Joker and Margot Robbie’s Harley Quinn. Leto, stepping into the manic madman’s shoes last worn by Heath Ledger in The Dark Knight, gives us elements of a crazed psychopath, dressing more like Tony Montana from Scarface, yet his screen time is so limited that there isn’t room for him to really make an impression. Whereas Robbie’s slutty psycho killer is the film’s saving grace and yet you feel that she is being restrained. Robbie has that twinkle in her eye that is both seductive and deadly, yet Ayers doesn’t give her room to really steal every scene she is in, instead she borrows the occasional scene and then gracefully gives it back. If the planned Quinn movie comes about, then the director must trust in Robbie to give her enough rope to take her to new heights.

Suicide Squad wants to be The Avengers while wanting the self-depreciation of Deadpool but this takes itself far too seriously, doesn’t give us any memorable set pieces and allows the characters to merge into the background instead of stepping forward. The whole thing feels rushed and not properly thought out, asif Warner Bros needed to make that charge on the superhero market while Marvel were dormant. Not as bad as Batman V Superman but not a huge improvement either. Wants to be The Avengers but comes off more like Fantastic Four. Marvel can sit strong on its mighty throne for a little longer.

2/5

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