Verge Reviews: Suicide Squad

Suicide Squad unintentionally perfectly reflects Hollywood blockbusters of the last few years.

On the wall facing me as I write is a DC Comics poster of Batman and his arch-nemesis The Joker. In my room at my Mum and Dad’s house, there is a similar sized canvas painting of the painfully late, but beautifully great, Heath Ledger’s Joker. To cut a long and probably boring story short, I am fascinated by pretty much all aspects Gotham’s most terrifying psychopath. So when news broke in December 2014 that Jared Leto would be the latest actor tasked with bringing this wonderfully evil character to life in Warner Bros. blockbuster Suicide Squad, it’s safe to I say I was fairly excited. In fact, thanks to their incredible marketing campaign, phenomenal budget, the leaked trailers, production and cast pictures and all-star cast all I can really say is this: I can’t remember the last film I was this excited about seeing.

Let’s be real. For over a year now, we have been teased with more than enough Suicide Squad news to sufficiently whet our appetites. From the infamous trailer that was leaked at last years San Diego Comic Con to The Joker’s new laugh and even Will Smith and Margot Robbie’s costumes, you simply can’t say Suicide Squad has been lacking any kind of promotion. But have Warner Bros completely overdone it and stitched themselves up? The short answer is yes.

Let me explain. With a rumoured budget of $175 million and pretty much a whole year of promotional work it was always going to be a huge challenge to live up to people’s expectations. But surely, with a budget that big, an exciting and clever script along with some kick-ass special effects would be the very least that is served up to its audience? Yeah, about that. See, as far as I’m concerned if the script and special effects had been as heavily invested in as the promotional work then yeah, Suicide Squad may have been able to live up to the hype but honestly, some parts of it were laughable.

I’ll do my best to describe the plot. Government Amanda Waller (Viola Davis) is tasked with capturing the worst criminals that Gotham (and the DC Universe) has to offer in the event that their talents or powers are placed into the wrong hands. Enter Will Smith as Deadshot, Margot Robbie as Harley Quinn, Jai Courtney as Captain Boomerang, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje as Killer Croc, Jay Hernandez as El Diablo, Adam Beach as Slipknott, Karen Fukuhara as Katana and Cara Delevingne as June Moon/ Enchantress. They are then placed under the commands of soldier Rick Flagg (Joel Kinnaman) who leads them into battle against Enchantress and her giant monster brother who are destroying the city and then…the world. See what I mean?

Ok, so let’s look past the dodgy plot. What did I make of the film? Honestly, I loved the first 30-45 minutes. I thought the characters were introduced in a punchy, comical way which gave you a good idea of who these guys were and why they were so important to the Government’s plans. It was also nice to see glimpses of Batman on the roofs of cars and on the mean streets of Gotham again in a more comic-book way than Christopher Nolan’s trilogy, almost in the middle of Tim Burton’s and Joel Schumacher’s DC worlds. After that well, not so much. Put it this way, if it had been on TV, I would’ve turned over. It just seemed like they concentrated on completely the wrong things by trying to squeeze in too many one liners and attempting to get a close-up of Margot Robbie’s shorts in pretty much every shot which resulted in the relationship between Harley Quinn and The Joker being rushed and poorly executed, with the latter just becoming a bit part player in a film that was supposed to be built upon his revival, if the marketing campaign was to be believed. In my eyes, it would have been an absolute necessity to build this film around The Joker’s clear talent for manipulation and chaos whilst being surrounded by the most dangerous criminals around, imagine the potential storylines you could get out of that?

Moving onto the performances then and by and large, they are very good with Will Smith, Margot Robbie and Jai Courtney who are the ones that stand out. Smith plays a downbeat Deadshot, who’s only wish is to be with his daughter, perfectly. His comic timing is excellent and is really the saving grace of the film. Margot Robbie gets in more than her fair share of one-liners and does well to not overplay Harley Quinn’s deliciously deranged mind, and Jai Courtney’s Captain Boomerang is as funny as he is intimidating. Viola Davis is an excellent blazer-wearing antagonist, and her performance does make you wonder why she isn’t locked up with the rest of the supposed super villains. I would’ve loved to have seen more from Akinnuoye-Agbaje’s Killer Croc, his shy, naive and innocent approach was a lovely contradiction to his physical performance especially when you consider his giant structure but for some reason, he regularly got overlooked. As did Jared Leto which is a huge shame because he brought a convincing and menacing Joker back to the big screen, but it’s unlikely his version will be held in as high regards as Heath Ledger’s or Jack Nicholson’s.

I suppose my biggest gripe with Suicide Squad is as I mentioned before the lack of a good quality script and in some parts, embarrassing CGI. I’m not a huge CGI endorser at the best of times, but I completely get that in some films it is an integral part in making the stories credible and believable. So if you can scrape by and save yourself a few million quid by using scrappy CGI effects in mega-budget films like Suicide Squad then what does that say about how the budget was spent? It’s a well-known fact that these days you can mask a rubbish film with great special effects. If a film is lacking a good storyline but has excellent CGI, then you go away from the cinema thinking ‘Oh well, the story wasn’t great, but those effects were amazing!’ and you are at least somewhat satisfied. But Suicide Squad sadly has neither of these fundamental qualities, which is quite frankly shocking when making a Superhero movie in 2016.

Suicide Squad unintentionally perfectly reflects Hollywood blockbusters of the last few years. Mixing all the ingredients, you need to make yourself a hit at the box office: Superheroes and super villains, a mediocre story line, lots of explosions, the over-sexualisation of female characters and a big money line-up of mega stars being used as the perfect remedy to wash all this unhealthy shit down our throats. As sad as it is to realise, studio execs know that if they pull in Will Smith and a scantily-clad Margot Robbie as well as reintroducing The Joker in the form of Jared Leto into their movie, then no matter how bad the story or the film is people will flock to watch it. But you know what? Having said all of this and despite how I feel about the overused Superhero obsession that we seem to be stuck in at the moment, I would probably go and watch it again because admittedly I did have fun. It was never going to be another Dark Knight and to be fair, it was never meant to be either. What is it then? Honestly, it’s an OK movie. But what saddens me is that it could’ve been so much better.

Rating: 2.5/5

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