The Good: Amazing chemistry among cast, perfect portrayal of comic book characters, well written dark humour, intense action.
The Bad: Mediocre music, uninspired directing style, garish cinematography, erratic pacing, shallow narrative, never delves into deeper themes.
3D Readiness: Post production 3D conversion. Murky cinematography and frantic camera work do not translate well to 3D
Villains get the spotlight in SUICIDE SQUAD, a movie which is in as much of a dismal situation as its protagonists with an almost bipolar personality caused by an indecision on a proper tone or themes. What could have been a gripping ensemble piece about camaraderie among unlikely companions forged in the fires of conflict becomes yet another loud, messy, superficial blockbuster affair. A movie about second chances and an exploration of the minds behind the monsters that are these supervillains dials back on all this potential depth in the name of making itself more “fun”.
From the get go, SUICIDE SQUAD had a tall order to tackle. It had to introduce not one, not two, but a whopping 9 characters into this cinematic universe called the DC Extended Universe or DCEU. Not only that, they had to go from bad guy to good guy and settle their individual character arcs within the span of 2 hours. This is a team movie but we had barely known the team members. In a flurry of disjointed flashbacks and flash forwards, we are brought up to speed on the history of our characters leading up to their current situation as patsies recruited by the ruthless Amanda Waller (Viola Davis) to be a black ops task force in the service of the government. Marksman Deadshot (Will Smith), mutated strongman Killer Croc (Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje), self-blaming pyrokinetic gangster El Diablo (Jay Hernandez), master of ropes Slipknot (Adam Beach), crazy Aussie with a pony obsession (it makes sense in context) Captain Boomerang (Jai Courtney), crazier little psychopath Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie), all led by the stern no-nonsense Captain Rick Flagg and his sword wielding assistant Katana.
Immediately apparent is the tremendous chemistry among the cast. Each role is masterfully played and feel exactly like the comic book brought to life. Of particular note are Margot Robbie as Harley Quinn and veteran Will Smith’s Deadshot. The respective actors nail the various facets of these complex characters perfectly, portraying them as layered individuals hiding their inner brokenness behind a façade of bravado and false smiles. That being said, only Deadshot and Harley get any decent development. The others are relegated to being a supporting cast with barely an arc much less any character depth. A pity though, seeing as how colourful a cast it was, and how intriguing their backstories from the comics were.
For their first mission, the squad is sent into Midway City to investigate an apparent terrorist attack. Instead what they find is a supernatural invasion like something out of Ghostbusters. Faceless humanoid zombie things roam the streets while special effects mumbo jumbo continually pours out of a peculiar train station. Slowly it is revealed that there is more to this attack than meets the eye which seems to have a personal connection to one of the squad. But first, they would have to fight their way across the city in some of the messiest, uninspired fight sequences filmed in recent years all set to a bland generic score and shot in a haphazard manner with each frame saturated in garish purple, oily blacks and acid green.
Oh and the Joker (Jared Leto) is in this movie somewhere, appearing occasionally throughout the movie like a wheezing Wiley Coyote intent on saving his lost love Harley. We really do not get much about him other than he is a mob boss, kills people, and has a disturbing as heck chuckle.
SUICIDE SQUAD is muddled by erratic pacing for the most part, brought about by the sloppy editing that looks more like a music video and less like a movie. Perhaps that was the point when they packed the film full of pop songs from likes of Eminem, Rick James and Skrillex; it is a feature length compilation of music videos in which the characters actually stop for an intermission to get a drink right in the middle of a war.
Here is a movie that is unable to decide on its identity, no doubt brought about by the executive meddling that plagued its production. It feels like it was originally a much darker, sombre, character centred movie. Such a film would have been more in line with Director David Ayers’ style, having done the brutal war movie Fury. Instead, it is pumped full of dark humour which, though well executed, takes away any complexity or meaningful themes that the movie could have incorporated. It is so superficial that even the camaraderie comes out of nowhere. One moment they are complete strangers, and all of a sudden they are best friends. A character claims that the squad is his new family but nowhere do we see them truly bond.
SUICIDE SQUAD is saved mainly by the amazing actors and actresses, bringing our favourite comic book villains to life in a way that makes us want to know more about them, their histories, and their stories. They bring a tremendous energy to the screen and snippets of the characters’ development and how the varying personalities play off each other are sprinkled throughout the film. Perhaps if it was not mercilessly butchered by editors, SUICIDE SQUAD had potential to be a great ensemble piece digging deep into an exploration of the criminal psyche and a tragic tale of loss and redemption. Instead it was re-cut into a shallow comedy filled mess with bland directing, murky production design, and ended up with the trailers being better than the movie itself.
Replay value: B-