Starring: Will Smith, Margot Robbie, Jai Courtney, Joel Kinnamann
Runtime: 123 minutes
Suicide Squad is the third instalment in DC's fledging cinematic universe; following on from the events of Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, it sees a top secret government organisation called ARGUS form a deadly group of villains and criminals that can work under the radar to combat otherworldly threats and tackle enemies that superheroes won't.
Is anyone starting to see a pattern here? I'm starting to think that DC might continually disappoint us on a biannual basis until they completely deplete our collective reserves of patience. I hate to be the bearer of bad news - after all, a film like this should be a slam-dunk for fan like myself - but Suicide Squad isn't a good movie. It's a clumsy, jumbled mess that feels suffocated by the weight of a million studio notes, most of which seem to scream 'make this more like Marvel.'
Writer/director David Ayer is the lucky duck handed the keys to DC's nastiest team of villains; his film assembles a sprawling roster that includes gun-for-hire Deadshot (Will Smith), psychiatrist turned psychopath Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie), wisecracking thief Boomerang (Jai Courtney) and fire starting gang banger El Diablo (Jay Hernandez).
Leading the team into battle is military man Rick Flag (Joel Kinnaman) and his right-hand woman Katana (Karen Fukuhara); their foe comes in the form of Enchantress (Cara Delevingne), an ancient witch that breaks free of the group to wreak havoc on Midway City.
Let's start with the positives, shall we? Well, the film does feature a quartet of great performances that help keep the film above water during some rough narrative patches. Chief among them is Smith; clearly enjoying the chance to share the screen with an ensemble instead of his usual leading man role, Smith regularly steals the show and makes the best of a bad situation. He's one of the few characters that we actually care about thanks to some compelling depth.
Robbie is another huge plus as Harley Quinn; her demented performance is pitch perfect. Sexy and psychotic, Harley is a hoot as she trots around chattering about voices in her head and flirting with anyone with a heartbeat. Similarly, Hernandez really brings the heat (pun intended) as twisted pyromaniac metahuman El Diablo. Completing the quartet of greatness is Courtney as Boomerang; his madcap Aussie burglar serves up a large portion of the laughs.
The rest? Eh, they're forgettable. Rick Flag is merely serviceable, Katana isn't done justice, Killer Croc (Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje) just sways back and forth in the background and Slipknot must receive less screentime than it takes to read this sentence. Enchantress is 50% of a villainous duo who aren't given a great deal of motivation other than 'ancient force that yearns to destroy the whole world.' We even get a generic sky portal and a towering CGI enemy thing in the third act! Throw in some faceless cannon fodder for our 'heroes' to carve through and guys, we're on our way to superhero film bingo!
Cameos from Batman (Ben Affleck) and The Flash (Ezra Miller) place the film inside the greater DC universe, but unfortunately this is where the cracks start to widen. The first 40 minutes of the movie are overstuffed with flashbacks and exposition, causing the pacing to suffer and plot to zig-zag all over the place. One minute we're sharing dinner with ARGUS head honcho Amanda Waller (Viola Davis), the next we're sitting through yet another flashback that recalls Captain Boomerang or Enchantress' origin. It's really messy and unnecessary, just a ream of unending backstory that doesn't stir interest or drive the story forward.
Now, you'll notice I've yet to mention Jared Leto's Joker. I'm not going to sugar coat it - he's terrible. Truly awful. His portrayal doesn't even come close to capturing the mixture of maniacal menace and mirth that we've seen in the past from Caesar Romero, Jack Nicholson, Mark Hamill and Heath Ledger. He's easily the worst part of the film, despite not even being in it very much. That's the other downside - his entire role could be sliced out of the film and it wouldn't make a lick of difference! His contribution is so inconsequential and pointless. Not to mention the garish gangster chic costuming that still looks godawful.
The use of music doesn't work either; tonally, it just doesn't compliment the film or the action at all. We get everything from Queen, Eminem, The White Stripes, Creedence, Kanye and everything in between. The whole affair reeks of a desperate attempt at aping the success of Guardians of the Galaxy's seamless use of its Awesome Mix soundtrack.
The Verdict: 5.5/10
Suicide Squad could've had the midas touch to bring DC on par with Marvel; instead, it's a jumbled mishmash hamstrung by choppy editing, thin characters and a plot that goes nowhere. It's not all bad - Robbie, Smith, Courtney and Hernandez are great - but it's a really clumsy effort that feels like the product of 'too many cooks' trying to be cool.
Suicide Squad is in cinemas across Australia now