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Should I Watch..? Suicide Squad
What's the big deal?
Suicide Squad is an action superhero film released in 2016, although the film's emphasis is actually on a group of supervillains instead of a heroic lead character. Based on the DC Comics characters of the same name, the film is the third entry in DC's Extended Universe and sees a number of incarcerated baddies team up to take on an unknown and extremely powerful enemy. The movie stars Will Smith, Margot Robbie, Jared Leto, Viola Davis and Joel Kinnaman and was written and directed by David Ayer. Setting box office records when it was first released, the film amassed global takings of over $745 million but received a largely negative reception from critics. The film is much better than the previous DC film - Batman v Superman: Dawn Of Justice (1) - but its success has been dwarfed by that of the fourth film, Wonder Woman (2).
What's it about?
After the events of Dawn Of Justice, intelligence officer Amanda Waller is under pressure to come up with a plan to help protect society against hostile meta-humans. Her scheme involves creating a team of unique individuals from inmates at the Belle Reve prison facility who will then combat any meta-human threat in exchange for reductions in their prison sentences. Controlled by a nano-explosive implant in their necks as well as the presence of Special Ops Colonel Rick Flagg, Waller recruits professional hitman Deadshot, pyromaniac gangster El Diablo, crazed psychiatrist Harley Quinn, hulking mutant Killer Croc, tactical assassin Slipknot and thief Captain Boomerang.
Before long, the so-called Suicide Squad are called into action after a supposed terrorist attack on Midway City. Joined by volunteer swordswoman and Flagg's bodyguard Katana, the team fly in to discover that not everything is as it seems. In addition to the danger posed by the vengeful Enchantress, Quinn's ex-lover The Joker finds out about Waller's schemes and sets out to rescue Harley before it's too late.
Floyd Lawton / Deadshot
Harleen Quinzel / Harley Quinn
Col. Rick Flagg
George "Digger" Harkness / Captain Boomerang
Chato Santana / El Diablo
Waylon Jones / Killer Croc
Dr June Moone / Enchantress
Tatsu Yamashiro / Katana
David Ayer *
Release Date (UK)
5th August, 2016
Action, Fantasy, Sci-Fi, Superhero
Best Makeup & Hairstyling
Razzie Award Nomination
Wrost Screenplay, Worst Supporting Actor (Leto)
What's to like?
Fearing a similar cock-up to Dawn Of Justice, I can honestly say that this is much better. For starters, it's more fun - Smith and Robbie especially deliver quality performances in the lead roles while Leto's interpretation of the Joker is perfectly fine, so long as you're not expecting a Heath Ledger-style reimagining. The interplay between the characters is also funnier, compared to the endless mutterings and threats that made up Dawn Of Justice. The action, when it does come, is also punchier and more exciting somehow. The film has a real edge to it that was sorely lacking in its equally over-hyped stablemate.
The film also has a couple of other nice things hiding up its sleeve besides Robbie in sparkly hot-pants. It has an excellent soundtrack that is full of rock numbers that I heartily enjoyed and visually, the film is also a winner. Akinnuoye-Agbaje is unrecognisable as Killer Croc and while Smith's Deadshot might not match the character in the source material, his performance is good enough to make you forget about such technicalities. But the film belongs to Robbie who turns what was once a cameo in a cartoon into a memorable and enjoyable punk princess - in fact, she is the most fleshed out of the characters and it shows.
- Leto stayed in character throughout the shoot and even sent the other cast members odd Joker-like gifts such as bullets and a live rat. Leto also never rehearsed with Robbie for their scenes together, giving the on-screen relationship even more unpredictability.
- It took the makeup team five hours each day to apply the prosthetics and makeup to the head and shoulders of Akinnuoye-Agbaje - the rest was simply body paint. Killer Croc only has eight lines of dialogue in the whole film.
- Ayer cast model Delevingne as the Enchantress before the script was finished. To get her to prepare for the role, he told her to strip naked and walk through the woods under a full moon. Apparently, she did although in the seclusion of her sister's mansion.
What's not to like?
This emphasis on Harley is forgivable when Robbie's performance is this good but tragically, the film fails to utilise the rest of the cast in the same way. Leto's Joker is a scarey and more believable incarnation than previously seen but his character appears to have been severely cut from the film as he only appears in a couple of largely throwaway scenes. At least he's memorable because the likes of Kinnaman, Courtney, Delevingne and Fukuhara feel hopelessly out of their depth and aren't even given that much to do. With the exception of Leto, Robbie and Smith, the film is populated by actors who are simply picking up a paycheck.
However, that is nothing compared to the almost incomprehensible script which has so much going on that it never stops to actually tell us. Plot twists come out of nowhere, apparent deaths are meaningless and I can't honestly explain exactly what the characters were supposed to be doing in the first place. Aside from brief introductions at the beginning, we never really feel like we know these characters and therefore, we don't care how much danger they find themselves in. Like Zack Snyder's Dawn Of Justice, it feels as though Ayer has brought together a bunch of his favourite baddies (or more likely, the ones they could secure the rights for) and simply threw them together. It feels, not unsurprisingly, like a wasted opportunity.
Should I watch it?
Suicide Squad is a mess of a movie, full of mostly forgettable characters doing unexplainable things. But it is still a fun watch if you can forgive its faults, mostly due to the sheer effort of Smith and Robbie at the film's helm and a great soundtrack. It is an improvement but it still feels a long way behind the ultra-polished efforts from Marvel's Cinematic Universe (MCU).
Great For: deviants, forgiving fans of superhero flicks, Kevin Smith
Not So Great For: hardcore DC fans, DC's over-worked hype machine and their attempts at reigning in Marvel's success
What else should I watch?
Until Wonder Woman took the box office by storm by finally giving audiences a proper female-led superhero film, DC's Extended Universe almost paled into insignificance compared to the ever-expanding MCU. Yes, the likes of Man Of Steel (3) and Batman V Superman: Dawn Of Justice made megabucks but they weren't exactly fun - in fact, both of them felt rather depressing in contrast to this bubbly outing for the Bad Guy B-Team.
Meanwhile, Marvel's movies seem to keep getting better. Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol. 2 (4) is just as enjoyable and entertaining as its parent picture while patient fans eagerly await the next Avengers movie, Infinity War (5), which will hopefully continue the trend established by the blisteringly good Avengers Assemble (6) which is the best superhero film not directed by Christopher Nolan.
© 2017 Benjamin Cox