David Ayer directs Margot Robbie, Will Smith and Jared Leto in this DC villains on a mission, anti hero action flick.
Mixed emotions. If you thought the underrated Batman Vs Superman was flawed / an interesting mess / just plain awful then back away from the ticket counter now – this actually is all those slurs, and often. But not a total SNAFU… as while it fails fundamentally in terms of plot, humour and set pieces (fucking hell!), Suicide Squad has a strange energy and some mesmerising star turns that keep you glued to the screen. So the good first; and it’s the great, really. Robbie’s Harley Quinn just walks away with the movie, raises it under a new name and mind washes it to kill its own parents. Sexy, devious, naive and stroppy. She just rocks, turning bad lines into laugh raisers and repetitive action into a slapstick ballet. The movie flags whenever she is off screen. Smith is daftly street as Deadshot too, pleasingly so. Although he could have worn the mask a little more, even Stallone wore Dredd’s helmet for more scenes than this. Mr Jiggy With It hasn’t had this much on brand fun, Fresh Prince with an assault rifle persuasiveness since Bad Boys 2. In fact all the cast do better than expected; Jai Courtney’s Captain Boomerang, Viola Davis’ Waller and Cara Delevigne all have effective moments commensurate to their varying acting talents. Leto’s Joker is fine in performance but the 00’s gangsta rap LP cover makeover is a shortsighted and unnecessary update. He works best as a romantic interest for Harley Quinn than a villian in his own right. But that worthwhile stuff is surrounded, almost overwhelmed, by a desperately muddled and uncertain movie. Scenes of the exact same plot content are repeated in succession due to reshoots, the soundtrack achingly obvious and noticeably there to cover up gaping chasms in tone after butchering edits and re-edits, the action is unengaging and unshifting in stakes. Intangible threats; a score of blackberry headed mutants we’ve survived once already are defeated in an office and through the next door we get exactly the same amount of blackberry headed mutants, the CGI mega freak can crash scores of helicopters from the air with whiplash accuracy yet merely knocks anyone whose name is on the poster down to their butts in close quarter combat. You get the feeling the core idea has been lost after constantly trying to tinker with everything. There are easy wrinkles I’d personally have introduced that could have saved the whole schizophrenic endeavour but it feels like a project where too many cooks are already involved. Here’s what I would change. Have very few of Suicide Squad survive the mission. If Harley and Deadshot solely emerged from the dust then you’d feel like the mission truly was a challenge rather than an excuse to give the team something to team about. Sure OneScene and Never Heard Of Him Man didn’t make the finish line but wouldn’t Suicide Squad be a more powerful franchise if everyone but the tentpoles were palpably expendable… Like… Ahem… key inspiration The Dirty Doxen. Likewise actually write an end of game boss that requires them to use their varying powers in unison to defuse the threat – that’s a basic requirement, no? And even more likewise… let them be villains, not mere reluctant, naughty heroes. The drone mutant soldiers that swarm on them in street after street used to be decent humans – maybe a scene where the regular troops sent in with our goodie-baddies can’t open fire on citizens no matter how warped… “Lucky for us, we have these psychopaths who have no such qualms and who’d relish the chance.” I’m basically suggesting go darker and embrace the power the premise naturally gives you to do that. As a DC fan I’m saddened we have a film that actually deserves the scorn it was bound to get anyway… I’m frustrated we’ve been fobbed off with a Joker who at best makes a nice Bill Pullman for a scorching Harley Quinn – the most potent villian in literature should never be second banana… Worst yet a cameoing Batman who hides behind an 11 year old girl from a gun… In an alley. Just wouldn’t happen, who signed off on that… There is no hand on the rudder with a consistent vision for the future. “Add more jokes. Add more Batman.” We end up with not just the wobbliest comic book movie in a long time but not even the best Suicide Squad movie made this year… The original cut cannot have been this shambolic.