Reviews and entertainment articles by Dave Simpson
Director David Ayer faced a daunting task in bringing the much talked about third chapter of the burgeoning DCEU to the big screen. Not only did the burden of doing justice to iconic characters such as Deadshot, The Joker and Harley Quinn rest upon his shoulders, he was also expected to appease fans who were dissatisfied with Batman V Superman. Being under so much pressure to impress, he probably never really stood a chance of making a movie that met everyone’s expectations, but that doesn’t mean that what he delivered isn’t entertaining.
Following on from the events of Dawn of Justice, his story centres on a group of gifted but dysfunctional individuals as they’re forced to set aside their differences and work together for the greater good. It’s a scenario seen in many superhero movies before, but Suicide Squad turns the genre upside down by allowing the antagonists to take charge. This puts a refreshing spin on an otherwise conventional concept and, even though it’s no game changer, there’s quite a lot to like about this quirky comic book caper.
It starts strong with a series of exciting vignettes which offer insight into several key characters, as well as featuring some fun but fleeting cameos. Unfortunately the rest of the film doesn’t manage to match the intrigue generated by these early detours, but the titular team become embroiled in more than enough gun fights, aerial assaults and explosive set-pieces to ensure that there’s never a dull moment.
It all eventually culminates in a special effects laden showdown that serves as an enjoyable denouement, even if the formulaic nature of the movie’s main threat means that there’s not much in the way of tension. What really makes Suicide Squad stand out though isn’t its action, it’s the impeccable performances of its headlining stars.
Will Smith is typically entrancing as ace assassin Floyd Lawton. Exuding charm and intensity in equal measures, Smith is believable as both a capable leader and a master marksman. At the same time, he effectively conveys the character’s compassionate side by demonstrating that Deadshot’s main motivator is his desire to do right by his daughter. This results in a well-rounded and relatively relatable protagonist in whom it is easy to invest.
As brilliant as Big Will is though, it’s his former Focus co-star who steals the show. Margot Robbie is absolutely exemplary as psychiatrist turned sociopath Harley Quinn. The Australian actress does a phenomenal job of emphasizing the malefactor’s manic mind-set while simultaneously showing that she harbours a lot of vulnerability due to her twisted relationship with The Joker.
Speaking of which, Jared Leto is suitably unsettling as the clown prince of Gotham. However, it’s debatable as to whether he actually needs to be in the movie outside of Harley’s flashbacks. On one hand, The Joker acts as a wild card who provides some entertaining digressions. But on the other hand, it would be difficult to disagree with anyone who’s of the opinion that he facilitates a fruitless subplot that makes no difference to the main narrative whatsoever. Either way, it will be interesting to see where DC decide to take the character from here.
Jai Courtney is surprisingly compelling as famous Flash opponent Captain Boomerang. After failing to prove himself worthy of leading man status in the likes of Terminator: Genisys and A Good Day to Die Hard, it’s about time he displayed some dexterity and considering how effortlessly he slips into the role of a beer-chugging lunatic here, maybe he should stick to playing zany supervillains from now on.
Cara Delevingne is engrossingly eerie as the enigmatic Enchantress. Her booming voice and tendency to do an odd dance while delivering dialogue should have been silly, but these strange traits actually augment her creepiness. Her motivations are a little murky and her arc is disappointingly generic, but her mystical nature makes her intriguing all the same.
Viola Davis endows Amanda Waller with an appropriately cold and calculating demeanour, although her characterisation comes across as a little contrived. There’s too much of an effort to accentuate her insensitivity through random acts of callousness rather than attempting to explore what actually makes her tick. To her credit, Davis does do well with the material she’s given, but Waller definitely ends up suffering from “tell, don’t show” syndrome.
Of the rest of the cast, Jay Hernandez adds some extra emotional weight to the proceedings by adeptly channelling the inner torment of pyrokinetic street thug El Diablo. Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje gets a handful of funny moments as Killer Croc, despite spending a lot of his time confined to the background. Then there’s Joel Kinnaman and Karen Fukuhara, neither of whom make much of an impact as Rick Flagg and Katana, respectively. The former serves as an unnecessary foil to Deadshot whose depiction is bland and boring, while the latter receives so little screen time that she’s essentially nothing more than a sword wielding extra.
Weak links aside though, the group dynamic is generally endearing and most of the major players are on fine form throughout. The fact that they’re portraying a collection of colourful villains injects just enough originality into the plot to offset its otherwise familiar feel. This, combined with a quick pace and engaging action, means that Suicide Squad makes for a sufficiently satisfying cinema-going experience.
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