What should mankind do if a Superman level threat were ever to attack the United States? Amanda Waller (who appears to be on the Weight Watchers plan) proposes fighting fire with fire, by assembling a team of villainous meta-human protectors. One quick search later and the titular Suicide Squad are formed, made up of the meanest inmates presently serving time. The line-up includes sniper Deadshot, pyro-kinesis master El Diablo, amphibian strongman Killer Croc, obnoxious Australian Captain Boomerang, soul-sapping sword wielder Katana and the Joker’s insane love interest Harley Quinn. How a crazy chick swinging a baseball bat is supposed to counter someone like Doomsday is anyone’s guess, but whatever.
On their inaugural mission the Suicide Squad are tasked with taking down Enchantress, a mighty witch who is rather miffed that humanity no longer worships her as a god. The story is pretty straightforward. Suicide Squad go on a walk, Suicide Squad beat up lackeys, Suicide Squad continue to walk, Suicide Squad thrash some more henchmen, Suicide Squad walk some more and finally the Suicide Squad battle the final boss. The walk/fight cycle reminds me a little of Lord of the Rings, but the Fellowship get a pass from me because their ambling did at least treat us to some beautiful cinematography of New Zealand’s landscapes. On the other hand all you’ll see in this Warner Bros blockbuster are grimy streets and poorly lit alleyways.
Like many DC movies Suicide Squad is a bit of a mixed bag. The early scenes, which introduce us to the characters, are fun to watch and the banter between Waller’s team of misfits is witty. I liked how a sequence near the end of the film, were the group chill out at a bar, helped humanize what is essentially a band of despicable killers. The action choreography wasn’t to my liking however. Deadshot simply shoots guys – making me wonder why he is considered to be more valuable than a troop of soldiers. Captain Boomerang seems to favour melee combat for some reason, despite being named after a ranged weapon. El Diablo has the flashiest power, but for a good portion of the movie he refuses to set enemies ablaze. Waller should “fire” his pacifist ass from the team.
My rating for Suicide Squad is two and a half stars. When compared to other live action movies from the DC comics stable it is better than Green Lantern but worse than Man of Steel. Is David Ayer’s script to blame or is studio interference at fault? Who knows. Either way the movie didn’t click with me. I especially disliked Jared Leto’s take on the Joker. Just like Lex Luthor in Batman v Superman, the suspect casting did not work out. In this film the clown prince of crime is portrayed as a mob boss who has a thing for excessive makeup and garish suits. Leto couldn’t even deliver a convincing laugh, making me wonder how he got past the audition process. Thank goodness then that the Joker’s screen time is limited to a paltry fifteen minutes.
On the flip side Margot Robbie was great as Harley Quinn. Her quips stole the show, even if her performance doesn’t explain why Harley is so infatuated with Joker. Robbie eclipsed co-star Will Smith’s mediocre interpretation of Deadshot – the paid assassin who loves his daughter and refuses to kill children or women (um maybe someone should tell him the gender of Enchantress.) Overall I think Suicide Squad would have been more to my liking had I not recently watched Batman: Assault on Arkham. Said animated feature stars the same anti-hero team but manages to deliver a smarter storyline, funnier comedy and better action in the space of just seventy-five minutes. Oh how I wish Suicide Squad was that concise, because I found myself constantly glancing at my watch during its two-hour duration. After another sub-par release it now falls on Wonder Woman to save DC’s movie universe from the doldrums.