One thing Suicide Squad (the latest film in DC Extended Universe film series that started with Man of Steel and Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice) did right, was choosing a title that’s hard and awkward to portmanteau the word suck or meh or boring with. Unfortunately, the movie is still pretty meh. Sui-SUCK Squad, if you’d excuse the crudeness.
The film starts out with Will Smith’s Deadshot, Margot Robbie as Harley Quinn, and 3 other powerful, demented, and/or monstrous locked-up criminals who gets rounded up by government official Amanda Waller and field leader Rick Flag, as a nothing-to-lose team ready to save the world against superhuman threats.
However, it takes forever for the setup to be completed, and it’s still uncertain for a long time who exactly you’re supposed to be rooting for (predictably, it’s Will Smith and Margot Robbie).
And then it turns into a video game.
Levels upon levels of good guys (in this case, the bad guys mentioned above) fighting a faceless bad guy army (even worse guys) through endless repetitive action sequences.
One thing I’ve always liked about comic book movies is the constant reinterpretations of characters. Ben Affleck’s Batman, for example, being very different to Christian Bale’s, Michael Keaton’s, and especially Adam West‘s versions. And DC comics are being brave with the gritty, tough palette of their combined movie universe (especially when inevitably being compared to the super-successful Marvel Cinematic Universe), but after Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, it looks like they are tonally lighting up somewhat.
But in Suicide Squad specifically, the tone is a little inconsistent. The first half hour of the movie is reminiscent of the film’s marketing campaign – pop songs galore, bright neon titles, and a mix of action and humour.
Deadshot, a miraculous marksman has a daughter he’s pining for, Harley Quinn has the hots for The Joker (Jared Leto, with a tough guy gangster interpretation this time), and Rick Flag is a no-nonsense military man whose girlfriend is an evil, all-powerful witch. I simultaneously enjoyed how close Robbie’s Harley Quinn is to the original look and character of her Batman: The Animated Series origin, but her oversexualised costume, and on-and-off sense of humour isn’t great.
Quinn‘s actions are purely fueled by her infatuation with The Joker, and The Joker, in a relatively small role in the movie, seems to be uncharacteristicly motivated by love for Quinn. Isn’t he usually a loveless anarchist who throws his human plaything away at the first sign of trouble? [Maybe this particular interpretation just isn’t for me.]
But characters aside, this film feels like very familiar terrain filled with unexciting action sequences. There’s really nothing new in these CG-spectacular fight scenes, and the film even ends on a predictable happy note.
I think the film’s biggest sin is underusing some fantastic properties. These characters have the potential for such amazing drama and insanity-fuelled action scenes, that the lackluster Suicide Squad falls way short of what it could’ve been. And some spectacular Harley Quinn mallet-fighting should be too good to save for a sequel.
If you’re a die-hard fan of DC comics (or superhero in general), you’ll probably get some kicks out of Suicide Squad. But while the concept sounds intriguing and the characters really wants to be fallen in love with, Suicide Squad disappoints on most levels, and won’t have audiences begging for more.
PS. There’s a scene midway through the credits, so stick around if you’re into that kind of thing. However, it’s not very exciting, and confusingly takes place before the Justice League teaser that was recently unveiled at Comicon.
Suicide Squad releases in cinemas on 5 August.