Saturday, 6 August 2016

Suicide Squad Review

The third film in the DC Extended Universe could easily be hailed as the most anticipated. Collecting a group of comic book fan favourite villains together and putting them forward into a narrative usually reserved for heroes is something that is seldom seen and is possibly why David Ayer's Suicide Squad (2016) caused waves of excitement amongst fans everywhere. So, one questions remains. Did it live up to the hype?

Unfortunately, Suicide Squad's mish mashed narrative acts as its first call for alarm. The overall story is extremely basic and has a tendency to stall during the first act of the film thanks to many stories and flashbacks being intercut together within a short frame of time. We are given a brief idea of why Amanda Waller (Viola Davis) has decided to band together a team of villains to fight for the government, only the plot gets confused and we never learn who she intended them to fight against as they become sidetracked when a potential member of the squad goes rogue and turns into the film's main antagonist. Herein lies another problem; the audience simple receives an unrealised villain who spends the majority of the film either off screen, creating minions for their army, and whose only motive is the ever generic wanting to 'take over the world' for the sake of taking over the world.

A film about a team of newly assembled heroes, or villains in this case, is nothing new and recent examples include Joss Whedon's Avengers (2012) and James Gunn's Guardians of the Galaxy (2014), both of which manage to fairly establish each character within their respective teams. However, character establishment is not something that Suicide Squad succeeds in. In a desperate bid to cater to fans of Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie) and the Joker (Jared Leto), Ayer sporadicly throws in several flashback scenes of Dr. Harleen Quinzel/Harley Quinn and the Joker and the journey of their twisted relationship into the viewer's face. This is done in a way that seems as though Ayer is reminding them that these characters are fan favourites, and therefore his film should be revered because this is the first time their relationship has been realised in live action. This obsession with Harley Quinn's backstory highlights how neglected the other members of the Squad's pasts are, with the possible exception of Deadshot (Will Smith), and leaves you wanting more of the others whilst being forced to absorb all things Harley.

Besides the generic storyline and villain, Suicide Squad's second alarm bell starts to ring over the way that the film is sloppily edited together, which is surprising as the film's editor John Gilroy did some amazing work on Nightcrawler (2014). The intention of the editing is understandable, it tries to match the fast pace and insanity of the film and characters, but ultimately results in the viewer being bombarded by shot after shot after shot to the point of exhaustion. Though there are some fun scenes, particularly involving Deadshot, the same can be said for the cinematography thanks to the poorly framed, and often out of focus, shots. A technical aspect that is surprisingly effective comes in the form of the music. More than likely taking lead from Guardians of the Galaxy, Suicide Squad's is rock operatic and despite certain songs seeming slightly forced in, the majority of them work well within the film, Queen's Bohemian Rhapsody in particular.

Alarm bells aside, the film's main saving grace comes in the form of the cast. Will Smith stands firmly at the helm of the Squad as Deadshot, the assassin who never misses. As a wise cracking, deadly bad guy who underneath his armour and (rarely seen) mask is a concerned father, Deadshot embodies many of Smith's typical Will Smithisms. These Smithisms, though being nothing new in terms of his performance style and character choices, work well for Deadshot and give him a charismatic edge. Margot Robbie could have easily buckled under the weight of bring Harley Quinn to life, but she delivers a strong performance and even lands the majority of the film's jokes. It was also refreshing to see her in a role that didn't 100% rely on her body image. Jared Leto delivers a perfectly acceptable Joker who positively revels in the fantastic and the insane during his short time on screen. Finally, the most honourable mention must go to Jai Courtney's Captain Boomerang. As an Australian bank robber who totes a boomerang as a weapon, on paper this character doesn't sound particularly brilliant, however, Courtney breathes an almost Deadpoolesque sense of life and comedy into Boomerang that will surely cement him as a fan favourite. In the comics Boomerang was a common enemy of The Flash so it would be an added bonus if Courtney's Coomerang were to return as the central villain in 2018's The Flash.

Overall, Suicide Squad is an extremely flawed film and even though the majority of the cast do their absolute best, they can't save it from the terrible script that they were dealt. This being said, it remains a rather fun experience with a predominantly stellar cast and fun soundtrack, it's just unfortunate that it failed to live up to the hype.

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