Suicide Squad

2016 – USA

Director: David Ayer

Starring: Margot Robbie, Jared Leto, Will Smith, Jai Courtney, Cara Delevingne, Joel Kinnaman, Viola Davis

Words: S. Nix

After DC’s deeply divisive Dawn of Justice, Suicide Squad seems to be following the same vein in terms of a critical response. The studio has been struggling to come up with anything of the same calibre as Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy and it’s the general consensus that anything since has fallen pretty short. Not that that has stopped them being massive blockbusters anyway. But is Squad the hero this studio needs right now to stop even the most passive cinemagoer from getting tired of the increasingly comic-saturated big screen?

Well, the hype train has reached the terminus and we can safely say that as far as box office performance goes, star-studded Squad has smashed it. But it’s not as undeserved as some would have you believe. Sure, it adheres to the usual clichés you can find in every comic flick nowadays (big, supernatural threat to planet has superheroes unite, falter near the end, then win the day in a CGI-soaked finale with a budget to finance a small country) but it does have a subtle flavour all of its own. Think a darker Avengers, with villains as the protagonists and a faint flavour of Tarantino in a few scenes. A slightly less kooky Deadpool.
Will Smith and Margot Robbie head the cast as Deadshot and Harley Quinn respectively and make very watchable incarnations of their characters. A lot of the buzz surrounding this movie has been centred, of course, on Jared Leto’s take on Joker who actually plays a pretty backseat role in the film and has little to no impact on the actual story. I’m guessing the filmmakers have stuck him in as much as they have just because, ya know, he’s the Joker and enough time has passed since Heath Ledger’s legendary performance for someone else to hold the torch. To be fair, his presence does a lot to flesh out Quinn’s character and story. I digress. The point is, Leto does a very good job in his portrayal of a Marilyn Manson-Jack Sparrow lovechild on crack, and while it may not be to everyone’s taste, it is very true to the Joker as depicted in the Suicide Squad comic books and I for one am very interested to see what else he can do with the role in the future, given enough screen time.

Considering how many characters need introducing and setting up before the squad is launched on their suicide mission, the film manages to not get too bloated and lost in the build-up whilst still creating something to get attached to. It shoots for the heights of its Marvel counterparts and just falls short thanks to a couple of meandering set pieces and, without wanting to give too much away, moments where characters act in a way that is diametrically opposed to how they’ve been presented throughout the movie. All that being said, it’s a step in the right direction for this DC canon and it’s a pretty fun one at that.