Suicide Squad (2016)

Posted in Reviews by - February 23, 2020
Suicide Squad (2016)

Strangely inert, weightless and tonally abstract comic book caper from DC, attempting its own version of Marvel’s excellent and joyful Guardians of the Galaxy, but this never comes close to replicating that film’s heart, energy or pathos. There are attempts to revive the spirit of Guardians by retrofitting a soundtrack of ironic pop and rock classics, but no amount of Queen or AC/DC can cover over the film’s exposition-heavy dialogue, or its pervasive, washed-out and downbeat tone. There seems to be around three different films going on here – some more interesting than others – and it is constantly fidgeting between backstory, truncated set-pieces, and breadcrumbs hinting at other potential commercial opportunities within the DC Extended Universe.┬áIt means subtlety is sacrificed and we are left with a unfortunately compromised film, despite the best efforts of a formidable cast. Academy Award-winner Viola Davis plays a governmental stooge who assembles a crack team of Gotham City’s worst baddies to do their dirty work in a premise lifted from The Dirty Dozen. This mad idea is somehow given the green light by top brass at the FBI, and soon there’s a group of ‘meta-humans’ teaming with the US marines to take out an alien invasion. Will Smith leads the charge as Deadshot, adding a sense of emotional relatability despite playing an expert assassin with guns strapped to his arms. Margot Robbie’s violent and damaged Harley Quinn supports the film’s more anarchic sensibilities and – because she’s the only female anti-hero in a comic book film aimed at young boys – she is highly sexualised. It is through her flashback sequences which show her being groomed at the hands of the Joker (Jared Leto) where Robbie is given time to bestow Quinn with hidden depths, even if the camera is more interested in filming her from behind. Leto is placed in the rather unfortunate predicament of being the first actor to play the Joker after Heath Ledger’s exemplary turn in The Dark Knight. Whereas Nolan’s Joker was a nihilist harbouring a deep psychological vendetta against a society he deemed as morally corrupt, Ayer’s Joker is more of a materialistic cartoon pimp with tattoos and grills, causing chaos for seemingly individualistic gain (its never quite clear what the Joker’s motives are). Its complete style over substance, which is an apt description for most of the film.

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Editor and creator of Kung Fu Movie Guide and the host of the Kung Fu Movie Guide Podcast. I live behind a laptop in London, UK.

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