After the under achieving and poorly received debacle that was Batman vs Superman: Dawn of Justice, the cinematic strand of DC Comics is crying out for a hit that will please the fans, appease the critics and generate the kind of box office returns that have become second nature for their Marvel rivals. Subsequently, expectations have been set high for David Ayer’s (End of Watch, Fury) much hyped Suicide Squad. With an acclaimed director, top notch cast and new breed of enticing characters on board, this was supposed to be the film where the expanded DC universe finally reached it’s potential. Unfortunately it’s not. Suicide Squad is an unfocused, poorly plotted, chaotic wreck of a film.
With Superman currently unavailable, the U.S government turn to a rogue, highly skilled group of super-criminals to help protect the world from hostile enemy threats. Cajoled into cooperating by the cold as steel Dr. Amanda Waller (Viola Davis), The Suicide Squad are formed. The opening segment of the film is pulsating. As each of the characters are introduced, there’s a frenetic energy and charismatic visual style on show that is nicely augmented by some cracking rock tunes. Unfortunately. the early momentum is lost as the film reverts into it’s banal and insipid main storyline which involves the reluctant anti-heroes becoming embroiled in a apocalyptic battle with an evil Enchantress (Carla Delevingne).
The motley crew of notorious villains that make up the squad are enthusiastically realised by Ayers and his distinctly capable cast. Deadshot (Will Smith), a lethal assassin, is the best of the bunch. Smith excels in the role, injecting the character with a perfect blend of brawn, bravado and wit. Margot Robbie gives a barnstorming performance too as unhinged punk temptress Harley Quinn. Her romantic relationship with The Joker (Jared Leto) is a key sub plot, but the film only scratches the surface of what could have been a truly enticing double act. Despite Leto’s impressively hyper performance, The Joker barely registers in the film. The same can be said for the other characters as well. For all their potential, the likes of El Diablo (Jay Hernandez), Killer Croc (Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje) and Boomerang (Jai Courtenay) are never fleshed out in a satisfactory manner and reduced to minor roles in the film’s overarching narrative. Their nemesis The Enchantress is initially an intriguing on-screen presence. Beautifully played by Delevingne, there is a genuine creepiness evoked in her early moments in the film. Unfortunately, as the story progresses, her character is transformed into a CGI behemoth that practically plagiarises Zuul from the original Ghostbusters film. Along with with her brother, The Incubus, they are supposed to act as formidable foes for The Suicide Squad. Their motivations are never explored though and their ultimate involvement has absolutely zero dramatic impact. The Incubus in particular is a woefully executed disaster.
Flashy set pieces, mind blowing visuals and great costume design elevate the film from the doldrums. The plot however represents Hollywood story telling at it’s laziest and most contrived. By the time we reach the utterly tedious final act, even the most dedicated DC fan boy will have had their patience pushed to the max. Nevertheless, the characters have enough dynamism to suggest better things are coming. Like many franchise films, Suicide Squad sets itself up nicely for a sequel, with a surprise post credits sequence hinting at what future instalments might have in store. The DC Universe is alive with an abundance of unrealised potential, but it still has a long way to go to fill the wide quality gap between itself and Marvel.