Starring: Will Smith, Margot Robbie, Cara Delevigne
Director: David Ayer
Running Time: 122 mins
Suicide Squad is an American film and the third in the DC Extended Universe. After a seemingly unbeatable force initiates havoc in the city of Midway, the US government calls into action nine villainous meta-humans. Under the supervision of the military, these supervillains are forced to do some good and save the world.
You’d think that a film with no less than nine major characters would be jam-packed, even overstuffed. That was a problem for DC with just four players in Batman v Superman, so I was hugely surprised to see what an empty film Suicide Squad is. Despite a decent start, the film descends into generic blockbuster territory, and we never get the zany, manic entertainment that the premise suggests.
However, before I get into what disappointed me so much about this film, I want to touch on the best part: the performances. For all the mistakes that David Ayer’s screenplay and directing make, the lead actors do a great job at injecting some life and energy, with Margot Robbie, Will Smith and Joel Kinnaman putting in both an impressive, and most importantly of all, entertaining show throughout.
In fact, the strong performances make for some a good few enjoyable moments throughout, moments that save this film from being a total mess. When we’re not focused on the overall plot, and in fact centre on the members of Suicide Squad either quarrelling or banding together, there’s a lot of fun to be had. The contrasting personalities make for some pretty entertaining clashes, and the fact that there are so many characters gives good variety too, which I was very glad to see.
Apart from that, however, Suicide Squad comes off as a bit of a nothing film. For starters, the story is almost entirely stationary for the first twenty minutes. The characters of course need some background to set up the film, but that can be done whilst advancing the story along. Anyway, the first act isn’t that bad in comparison to the rest, as we do get some good insight into the characters, and a good few laughs too.
What really disappointed me about this film is its main plot. A generic premise it may be, with a group of characters going to defeat a powerful being, but what you need to make that work is fast pacing, good humour, and entertaining action, and Suicide Squad had none of that.
Apart from the fact that the film features one of the least threatening (and often most laughable) villains ever put to the big screen, given the way that the villain ends up standing in a building flailing their arms about in front of a green screen for the entire movie, the story essentially features a team of a dozen or so people walking through a dark city, only with the goal of defeating a faceless and uninteresting adversary.
The few moments of squad joviality did make for good fun, but that just didn’t save my interest given the way that the film simply watches them move slowly through the city, with such little tension. I tried to keep my spirits high, and I expected the craziness to ramp up towards the final act, but I was so saddened to see how the film continuously got worse and worse, and never managed to provide a truly exciting and entertaining blockbuster experience.
Another thing that the film promised was Jared Leto’s Joker, so let’s talk about him for a second. On the plus side, Leto makes a very menacing villain, and I’m genuinely excited to see him tackle Batman or others in a future film. However, Leto’s rather serious and dark performance feels hugely out of place in this movie. Suicide Squad attempts to interject humour amongst its dullest periods, but that really clashes with Leto’s Joker, who seems much more at home in a gritty gangster thriller.
Finally, I want to talk about David Ayer. Ayer is a great director, and made films like Fury and End Of Watch. Unfortunately, his rather gritty directing style feels very much at odds with both his more comical screenplay, and DC’s typical visual palette. Ignoring the emptiness of the plot for a moment, Ayer’s normally visually thrilling style is undermined by a greyish and dull colour palette, whilst the more intense action moments (which worked beautifully in his other films) don’t work when the film tries to be funny too.
Overall, I was very disappointed by Suicide Squad. It’s a film that first and foremost lacks a strong screenplay, but is also a mess given its failed mixture of comedy, grit and action. On the whole, I felt Suicide Squad was a generally dull and empty blockbuster, and only the strong lead performances brought a glimmer of the craziness that we all expected, and that’s why it gets a 6.8 from me.