I can’t help but think that those behind the transfer of comic titles such as Suicide Squad to the big screen are of the belief that (financial) success is guaranteed regardless of what they do, because that is the only way to explain how a film so lacking in so many areas can find its way into cinemas. Whilst a concept might work in comic book form, that doesn’t mean it will translate effectively into a film, but it’s hard to say whether that is the problem here, or whether it is simply the fact that the execution is so poor. Dreadful dialogue, ridiculous characters and a narrative that makes little sense combine to ensure that Suicide Squad falls well short of being the sexy, subversive super villain story that so many were hoping it would be.
The problems are evident from the outset as we meet the various characters imprisoned in a highly secure facility. Director David Ayer attempts to divulge back stories for some of them, while we are left completely oblivious about others. Sure, we delve briefly into the past of Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie) and Deadshot (Will Smith) but why does Killer Croc look the way he does? Whilst devotees of the comics may be familiar with the history of each character, those experiencing them for the first time get little insight into each member of the group. Ayer might have been much better served using this film primarily as an origin story, introducing the characters and reaching further into their backgrounds before bringing them together as a collective of bad guys commissioned to undertake black ops missions in return for clemency. The truncated and disjointed approach that has been taken in exploring the psychology and pathology of the characters provides little insight into the members of the eponymous squad. In an effort to fit so much in, every narrative development is rushed, such as intelligence officer Amanda Waller (Viola Davis) having her plan to recruit the world’s biggest super-villains as a vigilante force approved with nary a skerrick of oversight or accountability.
Featuring prominently in the pre-release marketing, Robbie’s Quinn is so child-like in her persona that it is impossible to find her sexy without feeling decidedly disgusted with oneself, while Courtney’s Captain Boomerang is perhaps the most offensively idiotic Australian character ever committed to celluloid. It beggars belief that Courtney would take on a role that has seemingly been designed to present Australians as boneheaded mutton chop-adorned bogans. It is hard not to feel sorry for Cara Delevingne in her role as June Moon/Enchantress. Having shown some promise in her transition from modelling to acting in Paper Towns, Delevingne is lumbered with a villain whose sheer ludicrousness is only surpassed by the ‘brother’ she resurrects and the zombie-like creatures that she unleashes on Midway City.
In a movie in which the pre-release marketing material proved far more interesting than the film itself, it transpires that Jared Leto’s Joker, despite being the subject of much online argy-bargy, is one of the more tolerable characterisations in the film. Joel Kinnaman is wooden as Rick Flag, Davis looks utterly disinterested, Karen Fukuhara is grossly under-utilised as the sword-wielding Katana and Ben Affleck’s Batman adds little. Smith, meanwhile, is still yet to produce anything as good as his performance in Six Degrees of Separation some 20+ years ago. Even the stunts and special effects, whilst spectacular enough, are nothing beyond the level of technical wizardry we have already seen myriad times before. Given that Ayer is also responsible for a screenplay filled with cringe-inducing dialogue, he really has nobody to blame for this mess but himself. Sure, there was no doubt plenty of pressure from the studio, but ultimately the buck stops with the director. Much anticipated and full of potential to be something really interesting, Suicide Squad has emerged as a muddled mess in which the soundtrack – featuring the likes of Kanye West, Queen, Black Sabbath, Creedence Clearwater Revival, Etta James, Grimes and Eminem – is the best thing about it.