Sunday, 7 August 2016

Suicide Squad (2016)

Official poster
Squad Goals: To not do this

Director: David Ayer
Running Time: 123 Minutes
Starring: Will Smith, Jared Leto, Margot Robbie, Joel Kinnaman, Viola Davis, Jai Courtney, Jay Hernandez, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, Cara Delevingne, Karen Fukuhara, Adam Beach, Ike Barinholtz, Scott Eastwood


To say 2016 hasn't gone swimmingly for the DC Extended Universe is a bit of an understatement. After Batman v Superman left audiences divided, hopes were pinned on their next attempt at universe expansion, which uniquely focuses on a team of villains. Of the genre, it's the latest 2016 picture which attempts something different, but is the first that can honestly be called abysmal.

In response to the resurgence of metahumans, Amanda Waller (Viola Davis) delivers a proposition to the government. Assemble a team of imprisoned supervillains to execute dangerous missions. If they succeed, they gain clemency on their sentences. If anything goes wrong, they're willingly executed. Their mission; to stop an ancient, powerful threat called the Enchantress (Cara Delevingne).

Having worked on pictures like End of Watch and Training Day, David Ayer seemed like a terrific choice to handle a group of down and dirty characters. Unfortunately, his directorial style seems intent on delivering an overlong trailer, composed of "cool" moments and forced musical cues. The action scenes are unable to muster any energy or vibrancy, coming off more perfunctory than it should. This is especially notable during the finale, which puts a focus on glaring effects instead of delivering comprehensible action (poor lighting and shoddy editing are the culprits here).

At the heart of this tale lies an identity crisis. One can feel the darker aspects of the film coming through, but it's at odds with a lighter tone, akin to 2014's Guardians of the Galaxy. It's a mixture which doesn't mesh well, not helped by jokes constantly falling flat.

Margot Robbie breathes life into Harley Quinn with a madcap performance, proving to be quite the highlight. Spearheading Task Force X, Amanda Waller proves more dangerous than any of the titular squad members, and Viola Davis sells every part of her dialogue. Unfortunately, those are the few cast members worth praising. Will Smith appears bored, even when it comes to his backstory as a father.

Jai Courtney appears to have taken cues from recent Johnny Depp, delivering a stock "crazy" performance as opposed to actual acting. Late developments try turning El Diablo into the heart of the team, but it never feels genuine. Killer Croc and Katana are only there to pad out the team size and add to the battle scenes. As for Slipknot, this sentence has more thought put into the character than the script (if David Ayer ever bothered, that is). But that shouldn't be surprising, when the characters are so thinly written, as though their backstory were chosen by throwing a dart on a dartboard.

And then there's Enchantress, who's a serious nominee for "Worst comic book film villain of the past decade". Carrying flimsy motivation, hindered by glaring CG and a terrible performance from Cara Delevingne, it's rather dreadful. Wondering why Jared Leto has not been mentioned yet? Well, despite being named second on the cast list and gaining considerable media attention, his iteration of The Joker is largely superfluous. There's not enough to see to gain an opinion on his take of the iconic character (but it's rather worrying how his knowingly abusive relationship with Harley has translated to a romantic story).

By now, it's become a cliche to bring up a films tagline when commenting on its quality. "Worst. Heroes. Ever." may have been intended as tongue in cheek, but when has a films tagline been such a self-fulfilling prophecy? Suicide Squad is a disastrous picture, as well as one of 2016's more disappointing efforts.

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