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Suicide Squad - Review

Suicide Squad

Review by Rob Carnevale

IndieLondon Rating: 1 out of 5

THE DC cinematic universe looked set to get the shot in the arm it so badly needed when the first trailers for Suicide Squad landed. But far from being the mean-spirited but subversive delight hinted at, the finished product turns out to be another colossal waste of time and talent. Worse, it’s a complete mess.

David Ayer’s film sets up a number of intriguing possibilities, especially in terms of its colourful characters, but it squanders each and every one of them and ends up feeling symptomatic of the bad choices that have bedevilled each and every DC movie from Man of Steel to Batman V Superman.

Namely, it favours pummelling its audience with dimly-lit, uninspired action sequences populated by thinly sketched superheroes and even more poorly conceived super-villains.

And by doing so, it fails to learn any of the lessons being taught by rival studio Marvel, which has taken the time to build a world in which almost every character realises his or her potential [and continues to grow], while also putting forward credible action scenarios with strong emotional investment.

Here, the latter element is barely even bothered with. The plot finds a group of the world’s worst super-villains being banded together, Dirty Dozen style, to form a kick-ass brigade capable of combating any new ‘terrorist’ threat posed by enhanced, Superman-style villains. Or in this case, faceless bullet-fodder gun-men who are being controlled by a shape-shifting witch and her brother with world-ending powers. All of this takes place in Superman’s absence.

But rather than taking the time to really get to know this rag-tag team of misfits before the action begins, Ayer opts to plunge them almost straight into the climactic scenario. Hence, the good work hinted at in Margot Robbie’s depiction of the playfully psychotic Harley Quinn or Jared Leto’s Joker (sparingly used to the point of frustration) never get the time to breathe and grow that they clearly deserve.

Similarly, Will Smith’s conflicted Deadshot warrants more screen-time to fully tap into the resentment he so clearly feels, while Jay Hernandez’s fire-throwing El Diablo has an interesting back-story that could have fuelled more moral complexity. Even Viola Davis as a hard-as-nails government spook ends up feeling spectacularly one dimensional, when a little more back-story and scheming wouldn’t have gone amiss.

The frustration surrounding all of this becomes even greater when you consider that Ayer has previously penned the script for Training Day and written and directed the likes of Harsh Times and End of Watch. Yet the execution here feels rushed and even schizophrenic. For every good idea, there’s an absolutely terrible one to trample over it. In that regard, Suicide Squad shares more in common with Ayers’ Sabotage, which similarly wasted a decent premise to risible effect.

It’s also clearly hamstrung by its place among Zack Snyder’s DC universe, with nods to the events of Batman V Superman merely serving as unwanted reminders of how wayward [and wasteful] this franchise has become.

If anything, some of the film’s more unsavoury elements become more glaring. The dubious sexuality and abuse surrounding the Quinn character feels particularly uneasy, while the decision to refer to the film’s supernatural/alien threat as a ‘terrorist’ one feels ill-advised and insulting when placed against the context of the pain and suffering caused by recent headline attacks.

Ayer maintains Suicide Squad is a film for comic book fans that is designed to offer some fun. But it’s a violence-driven, brain-dead kind of ‘fun’ that leaves a bad after-taste. And that’s not even considering that the film struggles to adhere to the basic rules of storytelling: ie, delivering a coherent and compelling story.

Here, the emphasis on action lays waste to all before it, whether it’s the discarding of useful ideas or the fact that plot beats repeat themselves over and over again amid soulless carnage that is poorly directed. In essence, Suicide Squad is an interminable end sequence without a fully realised beginning or an engaging middle section.

As a result, it’s time to stop giving this kind of thing a pass based on what loosely works for a few seconds. Filmmakers and interfering studios need to do better – if only to treat their audiences with more respect.

Certificate: 15
Running time: 2hr 3mins
UK Release Date: August 5, 2016