Suicide Squad (2016) Review

After 2 years of waiting patiently, DC’s Suicide Squad has finally hit the big screen. Proceeding the disappointing Man of Steel and Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, there was a considerable amount of pressure on director and writer David Ayer to deliver a good film. Suicide Squad follows a group of imprisoned supervillains, who are recruited by Amanda Waller (Viola Davis) to undertake dangerous black ops missions in exchange for more lenient prison sentences.

Margot Robbie as Harley Quinn

To start this review off in a positive manner, one of the most impressive aspects of Suicide Squad are the performances of Will Smith (Deadshot), Margot Robbie (Harley Quinn), Jared Leto (The Joker) and Viola Davis (Amanda Waller). Will Smith's portrayal of Deadshot was a real treat to watch. This role showcased Smith's natural comedic ability and charisma, as well as his ability to play the ‘tough guy’ role. Smith shines in every scene he is in, and his performance has left me bursting to see more of Deadshots story. Equally brilliant was Margot Robbie’s portrayal of Harley Quinn. Robbie captures the insanity of Quinn beautifully, and her chemistry with the Joker is pure magic. Quinn is a tortured character (quite literally), and Robbie does an excellent job of showing Quinn’s humanistic qualities which allows you to feel something for Harley beyond her loveable insanity. With a rumour floating around that a Harley Quinn stand-alone film maybe in the pipeline, there is plenty for Quinn fans to be excited about.

Jared Leto as The Joker

He may have been a controversial casting choice to some before the film’s release, but Jared Leto delivers a wonderfully fresh performance as the Joker. In this portrayal, the Joker is a gangster, who wears bling and moves with a real swagger. The Jokers interactions with Harley Quinn are some of the best in the film, as we see a side of the Joker that we haven’t seen on the big screen; the Joker in love. The Joker does not get a lot of screen time in this film (which may disappoint some), but Leto doesn’t waste a second of it. He was fantastic as the Joker and with this performance he will silence a lot of the critics who doubted his casting choice. In one of the best casting choices in DC’s history, Viola Davis gives a brilliantly menacing performance as high-ranking government official Amanda Waller. Waller is a hard faced character but the charisma and charm that Davis brings to the role makes Waller a likeable character.

One of the biggest shocks in this film is Jai Courtney’s performance as Captain Boomerang. Courtney has had a rather stale start to his film career, with one of the criticisms aimed towards him being his lack of charisma on the big screen. What a pleasure it was to see Courtney give the performance of his career so far, a performance filled with charisma and humour. Captain Boomerang received some of the biggest laughs in my film screening, and hopefully the wider audience will enjoy his performance too. Boomerangs character doesn’t add much in terms of the plotline, but the performance of Courtney makes him a very enjoyable character to watch on screen. Other fine performances were given by Jay Hernandez (Diablo) and Karen Fukuhara (Katana), with Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje having his moments as Killer Croc.

One of the most pleasing aspects of this film is the use of humour. DC have been criticised for their lack of humour in recent films, instead opting for a much darker approach to storytelling. Writer and director David Ayer should be commended for his efforts to add more humour into the film, in my film screening there were a lot of laughs and that is a very pleasing thing to be able to say coming out of a DCEU movie. If DC want to compete with Marvel, this lighter approach to storytelling is something that must continue, and with the Justice League trailer dropping at Comic-con recently, it certainly seems that DC have listened to the criticisms and acted upon them.

Cara Delevingne as Enchantress

Where the film is let down is in its storytelling. The plot of the film is thin at best, and some of the dialogue in the film is very poorly written. The first 30 minutes are cohesive enough, but as the second act starts the film begins to lose focus, and things start to get pretty messy from there. Apart from Harley Quinn and Deadshot there was very little character development for the other members of the squad, which made it very hard to become connected to, and subsequently care about the characters. One character that really suffers from poor writing is Enchantress played by Cara Delevigne. Enchantress is an example of a rushed character. The film delivers very little background knowledge on Enchantress which makes it very difficult to understand what her intentions are. I must stress that i don’t blame Delevingne for the failings of Enchantress, she was given very little to work with here and her performance suffers because of this. Another performance that let me down was that of Joel Kinnaman who played Rick Flag. Kinnaman for me lacked any real conviction in his performance meaning that he was overshadowed by the members of the Squad, and ultimately he was a very uninteresting character in a film filled with exciting, likeable characters.

The editing in parts of the film is an issue, especially during the action scenes. There are parts of the film that jump from one shot to the next very quickly, which made it hard to keep up with what was happening during the action scenes, and made other scenes quite baffling to watch. There are some pacing issues present, more so after the start of the second act which only made the film look more messy. The songs used for the soundtrack,though great songs in their own right, do not fit together well at all. The songs varied from artists like the Rolling Stones and Creedence Clearwater Revival, to Eminem and Skrillex and it is unclear what tone the filmmakers were going for.

Overall, Suicide Squad is an enjoyable, fun movie, with some excellent performances and characters that I personally loved. There are signs in this film that DC have listened to the criticisms of the fans and are making changes to produce better quality films in the future. Does this film live up to expectations? Yes, and no. In terms of the wonderful characters and introduction of humour into the film I’d say yes. However, the glaring problem that DC has is its ability to tell a story. Marvel has managed to nail the formula of having great characters as well as great storytelling over and over again. If DC wants to reach the heights of Marvel, then they need to find a way to nail this formula. Though the film is a mess, I believe Suicide Squad is a step in the right direction for DC, and with trailers for Wonder Woman and Justice League both looking very promising, I think there is a lot for DC fans and film fans in general to look forward too.

Rating: 2.5/4 stars