Playing catch up with Marvel’s expansive cinematic universe was always going to be an uphill battle for DC, with Zack Snyder struggling to lay the foundations with Man of Steel and Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. A fresh perspective was needed and expectations were high as David Ayer was on board to write and direct, but has he been able to hit the first home run for DC?
Amanda Waller (Viola Davis), a senior government official decides to assemble a group of supervillains who she believes can “do some good” and more importantly are completely expendable. The squad consists of Deadshot (Will Smith), Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie), Captain Boomerang (Jai Courtney), El Diablo (Jay Hernandez), Killer Croc (Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje) and Slipknot (Adam Beach), with Colonel Rick Flag (Joel Kinnaman) and his bodyguard Katana (Karen Fukuhara) keeping them all in line.
Screen time is inevitably stretched thin between the multitude of characters, with Will Smith and Margot Robbie faring best and both offer sturdy performances. Cara Delevingne as Enchantress has more of a substantial role than originally thought, but the model-turned-actress falls short with a wooden and unconvincing outing. The highly anticipated return of the Joker sees Jared Leto fail to capture the cartoonish charm of Jack Nicholson or the deranged perfection of Heath Ledger. Although, I appreciate taking the Joker in an extremely different direction was the logical route, this incarnation of the character (although used sparingly) missed the mark.
Villains appear to be Marvel’s Achilles’ heel, with only Tom Hiddleston’s Loki leaving a lasting impact, therefore Suicide Squad should have been the film to rival Marvel’s dominance. However, despite relentlessly regurgitating “We’re the bad guys!”, the squad lacks a mean streak and any real villainous conviction.
Violently jumping from scene to scene, Suicide Squad has a lot of content to cram in, but skims over potentially gripping scenes such as Joker’s manipulation of Harley Quinn and instead focusses on a faceless army and bright flashing lights in the sky (failing to learn from the mistakes made by other superhero movies). The soundtrack consisting of pop hits is also a distraction, instead of being integral to the plot like Star-Lord’s mixtape in Guardians of the Galaxy, or seamlessly blending into scenes, viewers are pelted with track after track, with seemingly no thought as to whether it’s fitting.
Failure to trust a capable director results in another miss for DC.