Suicide Squad didn’t need to be brilliant. It just needed to be the naughty yin to Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice’s drab yang, a fun romp that redeemed DC’s recent streak of bad decisions by introducing a little anarchy, to paraphrase The Dark Knight’s Joker. The marketing looked promising, suggesting it might even be DC’s answer to Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy: a relatively unknown property about a ragtag bunch of misfits that are called upon to save the day when ordinary heroes just won’t do. However, what makes it to the screen proves that a mostly strong cast, a good director, and an intriguing premise do not always a good film make.
There is so much wrong with David Ayer’s Suicide Squad, it’s hard to know where to start: the half-baked ideas, the overstuffed line-up of barely developed characters, the painfully dull third act, the frequently incoherent editing which serves to highlight plot holes so big the Batmobile could fit through them… Ultimately, and despite entertaining performances from Will Smith and a seedily over-sexualised Margot Robbie, the film tries far too hard to convince you it’s something it’s not. It thinks it’s an unhinged and irreverent wildcard, when in fact it’s actually a corporate-mandated superhero film that’s about as edgy as a marble.
As if that weren’t enough, the excessive and painfully obvious use of music quickly grows immensely annoying. Viola Davis’ ruthless government operative Amanda Walker makes her entrance to the Rolling Stones’ “Sympathy for the Devil”, whilst Smith’s Deadshot demonstrates his sharp-shooting skills to the strains of Kanye’s “Black Skinhead”. The song choices are so on-the-nose and in-your-face, it reeks of a cynical attempt to ramp up soundtrack sales.
What about the Joker, you ask? Surely if anyone can redeem proceedings, it’s him? Despite what the marketing suggested, Jared Leto is relegated to a glorified cameo, and his tame performance fails to live up to the hype around his much-publicised “method acting”. The year 2016 will doubtlessly go down as DC’s annus horribilis and, in a genre populated with Deadpools and Guardians, this failed pastiche of Escape From New York just doesn’t cut the mustard.
Suicide Squad | Directed by David Ayer (USA, 2016) with Will Smith, Margot Robbie, Jared Leto. Starts August 18