Suicide Squad is director, David Ayer’s ultraviolent, electric exploration into the darker side of the DC Universe, bringing some of its lesser known supervillains into a psychedelic alternative reality. Pre-empting new ‘meta-human’ security threats, Amanda Waller (Viola Davis) assembles a team of anarchic, malevolent supervillains to protect the nation, coerced into duty in exchange for reduced prison sentences.
Firstly, the concept of Suicide Squad is promising and original: an unruly team of innately evil anti-heroes reluctantly fighting for good after having their agendas manipulated by Waller. The idea of an unfamiliar ‘meta-human’ terror threat has potential for interesting parallels with global affairs and the US’ aggressive self-defence policy. However, the latter concept is unexplored, and the former is abandoned somewhat; the supposedly unapologetically wicked group are disappointingly decent, and instead of constructing a sound incentive to fight, they are also unimaginatively threatened with instant death should they defect.
Again, an encouraging aspect of the film is that each character has their own backstory, which should add depth and complexity to the narrative. Unfortunately, Ayer took on too much by overloading the story with characters; the team comprises of Deadshot (Will Smith) Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie), Diablo (Jay Hernandez), Killer Croc (Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje -bearing an uncanny resemblance to Thing from Marvel’s Fantastic Four), Captain Boomerang (Jai Courtney), Enchantress (Cara Delavingne), Katana (Karen Fukuhara) and Slipknot (Adam Beach) – the latter two being included almost as an afterthought. There is no time to develop any of them adequately, perhaps with the exception of Deadshot. The resulting interweaving of relationships, motives, and histories is messy and disappointing.
Finally, the plot is unforgivably bad, unlike the concept or character development; it is difficult to appreciate what Ayer is even attempting to do. It is easy to get lost, though not because of a particularly sophisticated narrative; there are many irrelevant diversions and the rationale for the whole story is weak. The ending is anticlimactic, unimaginative and ruins the energetic momentum of the film.
Smith is perfectly cast as Deadshot, delivering witty one-liners with attitude, keeping the film light and watchable. Viola Davis gives the best performance of the film as the ruthless Waller – she delivers her sarcastic lines perfectly, leaving Waller standing out as the most believable and likeable character. Jared Leto is admittedly faced with a formidable challenge to hone his own distinct characterisation of the infamous and maniacal Joker, following both Heath Ledger and Jack Nicholson’s memorable portrayals of the role. However, in his desperation for originality, his painful overacting removes any mystique the Joker might have had.
Overall, the film’s punky aesthetic, dynamic pace, and eccentric characters make the film easy and enjoyable to watch, however the chaotic story and underdeveloped characters leave the film lacking relevance. Mirroring Leto’s attention-grabbing method acting but over the top execution, Suicide Squad has far more style than it does substance.
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