One of the most common complaints about superhero movies is that the villains often exist just to give the heroes something to punch at the end. Well, Suicide Squad’s “heroes” are all villains, and thankfully, they are not all two-dimensional punching bags.
In case there was any doubt that this exists in the same cinematic universe as Batman V Superman: Dawn Of Justice (BVS), Ben Affleck’s Batman also makes a few appearences, and there’s a handy reminder that Superman is dead at the beginning of the film.
Anyway, following events in BVS, the world now has a a Superman-shaped hole. With the threat of metahumans growing rapidly, Big Bad Government Goon Amanda Waller (Viola Davis) decides that the best way to combat potential metahuman supervillains is by assembling her own special task force of metahuman supervillains and forcing them to obey her orders.
On her list is Will Smith’s deadly Deadshot (shoots people), Margot Robbie’s batty Harley Quinn (bats people), Jay Hernandez’s fiery El Diablo (burns people), Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje’s beastly Killer Croc (eats people), Cara Delevingne’s creepy Enchantress (enchants people), and Jai Courtney’s unhinged Captain Boomerang (throws boomerangs at people).
Leading the team is all-American hero and soldier Rick Flag (Joel Kinnaman), accompanied by his “associate”, the katana-wielding, er, Katana (Karen Fukuhara).
Of course, the problem with assembling a group of rogue is the chance that they might, well, go rogue. And so, there’s no surprise when one of them (we won’t say who) decides to rebel and cause a world-threatening event, leaving the rest of the Squaddies to clean up the mess.
The cast does pretty well with what they are given, with Smith and Robbie standing out. Smith’s Deadshot is the level-headed star of the squad, but it is Robbie who really steals the show, with her performance as the unhinged, psychotic former psychiatrist in love with The Joker.
The only problem I have with her character is her purpose in the Squad. Sure, she’s The Joker’s girlfriend, but other than her fearlessly reckless attitude and apparent ability to swing a baseball bat really, really hard, she doesn’t seem to have the skills or powers that would make her an essential addition to the task force. Maybe she’s there to talk the enemies to death?
Speaking of The Joker, while he’s got all those crazy tattoos, that shiny grill and various costumes to make him look the part, this Clown Prince Of Crime is all style and show, but has little substance.
Leto’s flashy and over-the-top performance perfectly conveys the insanity of the character, but it just lacks that extra subtlety and nuance to make his Joker a truly memorable one.
As much as I enjoyed the ride, I kept having a nagging feeling that there was just something missing from Suicide Squad, something that would have made it so much better than just a generic superhero movie.
And then it hit me – this isn’t a superhero movie, it’s a superVILLAIN movie.
If the movie features a group of supervillains – the “worst of the worst”, according to Amanda Waller – why didn’t we get to see them do really bad things, or let loose to rain evil down on their enemies?
Instead, director David Ayer keeps the leash on them so tight that they are hardly given any chance to display their true colours. I wanted to see them being supervillains, not become heroes, darn it.
Ayer also attempts to get us to symphatise with these villains, and gives them “human sides” that is supposed to turn them into heroes. While some of these – Deadshot, Harley and El Diablo’s, for instance – do help to flesh out the characters a little bit more, it’s quite disappointing that these so-called bad people don’t really get to do the evil things that they are supposedly capable of, or at least give them a chance to bring the pain to their “controllers”.
Then again, if they had done that, Ayer would probably have had to shoot alternate ending for Malaysia alone, like they did for Kabali.
As far as a movie about superheroes and villains goes, this was actually pretty enjoyable, with some decent character development, lots of great banter (Harley gets most of the best lines) and, of course, lots of mindless explosive action.
But it could have been so much more than that.
This was an opportunity to really give supervillains the limelight and turn them into more than just the usual punching bags. Although Harley quips in the movie “We’re bad guys, it’s what we do”, it’s a pity that Ayer didn’t really let them do more of what they do.
Director: David Ayer
Cast: Will Smith, Jared Leto, Margot Robbie, Joel Kinnaman, Viola Davis, Jai Courtney, Jay Hernandez, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, Ike Barinholtz, Scott Eastwood and Cara Delevingne