Film Review – Suicide Squad (2016)

The DC Extended Universe, and Warner Bros’ attempt to recreate the kind of magic being dished out down the road at Disney, is fast descending into farce. Suffering from a severe case of post-Nolan blues, they served up a pair of muted, sombre and insufferably dull movies in the shape of Man of Steel and Batman v Superman. You can imagine jets of hot stream shooting out of the ears of Warner executives as they continue to lose pace with their rivals at Marvel, and David Ayer’s Suicide Squad is a clear attempt to redress the balance and give themselves a Guardians of the Galaxy-esque shot in the arm. With talks of hastily cobbled-together reshoots doing the rounds, Suicide Squad is a conscious effort to lighten the load and quicken the pace of the struggling DC movie brand. It’s snappy and banter-filled but it’s also choppy and inane. Like a desperately self-conscious teenage boy whose just found his dad’s Sex Pistols LP and radiates a forced sense of ‘edginess’ while simultaneously pleading to be loved.

The premise is a Dirty Dozen derivative that sees a clutch of the DC Universe’s most disreputable villains turfed out of jail to fight crime in order to win a reduced sentence. With Superman out of action following his tussle with Lex Luthor, the reasoning, according to Viola Davis’s security chief Amanda Waller, is that ‘meta-humans’ such as the Squad provide Earth with its best chance of protection from any super villains.

Suicide Squad begins with roughly twenty separate montage and flashback sequences lasting around forty minutes. The shotgun-blast opening hops around like an angry chimp on a space hopper, backwards and forwards, hither and yon, attempting to clue you in the new characters’ back-stories. It’s a curiously funny, and massively flawed, opening movement that succeeds in dragging out tiny moments to underwhelming effect and skipping over other seemingly important details. At the end of it, you feel like you’ve watched a couple of mini origin movies for a few of the squad and completely glossed over others. It’s a messy way to begin proceedings but it is, at the very least, moderately compelling, particularly as it includes an early Batman cameo and hints at a wider DC Universe that still holds promise.

The rest of the movie, as in the movie proper, is by comparison a muddled and tedious drag through mechanical set-piece action and paltry attempts at humour. The Squad is given the task of hunting down Cara Delevingne’s powerful Enchantress, an archaeologist possessed by an evil spirit and possessed of the ability to turn humans into an army of faceless (literally)soldiers. The slog through the crumbling city streets and down dimly-lit alleys is textbook gloomy DC stuff that is as inspiring as watching a friend play Call of Duty and looks like it’s been filmed through a glass of dirty ditch water.

Swimming against a tide of negative criticism, Warner Bros have made a calculated effort to inject a sense of fun into this latest effort, so the script is peppered with off-the-cuff quips and creaking one-liners, some of which feel like they have been added late in the process. You have to give Warner Bros a tiny amount of credit, they did attempt to brighten up the show, but only Margot Robbie’s Harley Quinn gets a chance to shine through the dense and brooding rain clouds.

[rating=2] | Chris Banks

action, comic-book | USA, 2016 | 12A | Warner Bros. | 5th August 2016 (UK) | Dir.David Ayer | Will Smith, Jared Leto, Margot Robbie, Viola Davis, Jay Hernandez, Jai Courtney, Cara Delevingne