Directed by: David Ayer
Starring: Margo Robbie, Will Smith, Jared Leto, Jai Courtney, Viola Davis
In the wake of Superman's death, Amanda Waller is given the go-ahead to put together Project X, a team of gifted criminals, some with "abilities", who will be coerced to take on the most difficult missions on behalf of the USA. Her team consists of Harley Quinn, The Joker's psychotic girlfriend, Deadshot, an assassin who never misses his target, Captain Boomerang, Diablo, who can control fire from his palms, Killer Croc, a scaly mutant who lives in the sewers, and the Temptress, an ancient witch possessing the body of an beautiful archaeologist. Unfortunately, the Temptress is able to find a way around Waller's control over her and resurrects her brother, and the pair start to build a massive weapon of destruction, and turn innocent people into their lethal minions. Waller's Suicide Squad are suddenly called into action - but can they work as a team? Meanwhile, The Joker is still trying to get Harley back...
Oh, the internet and word-of-mouth. How loathesome sometimes you can be. Suicide Squad was given an over-inflated status thanks to some excellent trailers, all cut to some great music tracks (if Oscars were ever awarded for trailers, the Bohemian Rhapsody one would certainly win). Then came the preview screenings, and things started to unravel. Complaints abounded - too much studio interference. PG-13 level violence when every one expected - no, demanded - a full-blooded R movie. Too many flash-backs and uneven story. So after a hefty weekend at the box office, suddenly ticket sales for Suicide Squad plummeted.
Okay, so there are issues, but not as many as people are making out. The framing of the background exposition on some of the characters is clunky as hell. It would have been much better to let them play out without the wraparound section and voice-over by Waller. However there is absolutely nothing wrong with the flash-backs themselves, showing Deadshot in action, Harley's transformation at the hands of the Joker and both characters' run in with Batman.
The badguy threat is also a problem - the Temptress basically stands in one place creating her "machine" - an offensively bland miasma of CGI turds spinning in the sky - while her giant brother stretches out his tendon-like arms to ensnare anyone who gets too close. Plus the creatures they create out of hostages - there faces reminding me of things from 70's era Doctor Who.
But the Squad itself? I have absolutely no issues with. While the film focuses mostly on Deadshot and Harley, the rest of the team all get a look-in and get their moment in the spotlight. Fans and critics have been very short sighted and narrow minded in their criticism. Making Deadshot have a daughter he cares about doesn't soften the character, it gives Waller some plausible leverage to use on him. He's still a cold-blooded killer who admits that he enjoys killing. There have been moans about Jai Courtney's Captain Boomerang, which I consider unfair - after a number of bland turns in the likes of the last Die Hard movie, the last Terminator movie, and the first two Insurgent films, I found this to be his most immersive role to date, and his most likeable.
Some of the action is badly filmed, which unfortunately is the style of the past decade (thanks a lot, Greengrass!). It would have been nice to see more of the Squad being the bad-asses they're meant to be, instead of being lost in murky shakycam and hyper editing as we get with the Squad's first encounter with the Temptress's Minions. Thankfully there are better scenes later on before the full-screen CGI kicks in. Harley Quinn gets a good action scene inside a lift, for example.
The film does belong to Margo Robbie and Jared Leto. I thought The Joker's presence in the films was just about right - any more and it would have truly hijacked the film away from the Squad itself. After Heath Ledger's anarchic Joker, Leto dials up the crazy to 11, adding his psychotic love of Harley to make him an unpredictable wild card. And even moreso is Robbie, who truly brings Harley to life: sexually provocative and hyper violent. If Warner Brothers aren't considering a Joker/Harley spin-off, then they are the crazy ones.
Its fair to say that this isn't the film the trailers promised us. We were expecting something on the fringes of the mainstream characters and stories, like Marvel did with Deadpool. However, despite its 15 Cert in the UK, this is no more violent than the last Capt America film, and a lot less dark in theme than The Dark Knight. However, this is a step in the right direction for both DC and Warners, and there is hope for what's to come next year.