Suicide Squad (15)
Directed by: David Ayer
Starring: Will Smith, Margot Robbie, Viola Davis, Jared Leto, Jai Courtney and Joel Kinnaman
Running time: 2hr 3mins
When the world suddenly becomes aware – and afraid of – the presence of meta-humans, aliens and monsters, Amanda Waller (Davis) decides to use her unique position to put together a team of expendable/super-powered villains who she knows she can convince to do jobs no-one else will do. She calls them Task Force X but they know what they really are, they’re the Suicide Squad.
After the lacklustre reception of Batman V Superman’s theatrical cut (the Ultimate edition home release has gone some way to repairing the initial dislike for the movie), Suicide Squad has a lot to do.
The third entry in the DC Cinematic universe has had many believing it would be the Guardians of the Galaxy of the DC franchise and, going by the trailers, clips etc, that it would be the point where the DC universe becomes… fun.
Is it Guardians of the Galaxy? No, thankfully… this is DC so stop comparing to Marvel, apples and oranges, people.
Is it fun? Oh, yes, a lot of fun…
You would need to be under a stone to not have noticed at the vitriol aimed at this movie over the last few days since the mainstream reviews came out (don’t believe the hyperbole, many sites and critics loved it too but where’s the fun in reporting that?) and, shockingly, it seems that many people want DC to fail… this baffles me as a reviewer and as a fan.
I’m a DC guy before all others but do I want Marvel’s movies to fail? No! Why would I? I look forward to Marvel’s movies as much as any other movie. If you don’t like DC don’t go, but why wish for it to fail?
Either way, this movie is not a failure. In fact, in many – not all, but many – ways it’s a complete success.
What we get here is a movie that has blown the DC Cinematic universe wide open. Right from the get-go we hear about meta-humans, aliens, magic and cross dimensional creatures. We see many characters that even a few short years ago we would never have dreamed of seeing on the big screen… Killer Croc, Deadshot, Enchantress, El Diablo and, frankly, if you’re a fan, you’re going to have an absolute ball here.
Director David Ayer, of Training Day and End of Watch fame, was reportedly under extreme pressure here to deliver a movie to an unlikely release date. He wrote it in six weeks reportedly and, yes, in places it shows.
The story is not the strongest and it does suffer from pacing issues in places, especially in the third act where, after setting up all the characters and the world beyond Gotham and Metropolis, and getting the characters into the heart of the action, the movie seems to plod rather than up the ante… the whole world is at stake here, folks!
But in a truly contradictory move, there’s scene where, when everything reaches a seeming impass, the squad all go and have a drink and the movie shows an incredible amount of bravery shines as it gets into the heart of who the characters all are and they bond over a drink and try to decide of the world is worth it after all.
And it’s this beating heart of the movie that kept me glued – Deadshot (a never better Smith), Harley (Robbie) and a surprisingly awesome El Diablo (Jay Hernandez) give the movie an emotional centre that made this unlikely team of freaks worth caring for and, as a whole, made you root for the, em, bad guys.
And while some of the dialogue is really poor – “let’s just say I put them in a hole and threw away the hole” – the cast are so on the money they make it work and when it doesn’t it sort of feels like it’s in the spirit of the absurdity of all this madness.
Comic fans will definitely get a kick out of Robbie’s Harley Quinn who manages to channel the character as created by Bruce Timm for Batman: The animated Series all those years ago, while making her a real character, whose vulnerability is exposed as she tries to fit into a team without her Puddin’, The Joker. And when she’s with him, she’s a whole different character and becomes a scary and exciting bad guy. Her performance is a measured study in comic book duality.
Worth a special mention too is Viola Davis whose Amanda Waller is a study in cool ruthlessness, a woman who you feel would be a tough adversary for anyone… even Batman. And Jai Courtney – I honestly can’t believe I’m writing this – whose (Captain) Boomerang is just great.
But we’ve not spoken about the character who we all wanted to see most (after Harley?)… The Joker.
Does Jared Leto nail it as the Clown Prince of Crime? He most certainly does. Channelling Caesar Romero, Jack Nicholson, Heath Ledger and Mark Hamill. This is a scary, unpredictable, smart and funny take on the character.
He’s a force of nature and here, in this universe, he’s a crime boss whose name alone causes fear… and that’s just spot on. Many critics have complained that his time on screen is limited – it is – but that was the point. This Joker isn’t part of the overall story, he has a little agenda all of his own… he walks in, causes chaos, panic and disorder and then leaves.
And I love that. I love that Ayer put him in here as an established character and, like a lot of the movie, he’s a nod to a universe populated with gods, monsters and all sorts of amazing things. Just jump right it… the water is fine.
So, in the end, is it perfect? No. It’s deeply flawed but for all its shortcomings, it deserves to be seen and appreciated for the guts and glory it also possesses, the good far outweighs the bad here.
One thing I will say though, as I sat watching it, there were parts that had the life-long DC fan in me grinning like an idiot; simply because of the fact that I was finally seeing things I had no right to believe I’d ever see on screen. And a lot of this movie is for the fans… and that’s a wonderful thing, however, DC, like Marvel already do (I know I said not to compare the movies of these two studios but what can I say?), need to aim for the wider audience.
It’s awesome that they are giving all this to the fans but to be truly successful you need to earn new ones too. It’s a thin line.
And it certainly is good to be bad.
(Oh, and hold out for the mid-credit scene, it’s a cracker).
4 out of 5 Nerds