By Thomas Simpson
After the disappointment that was Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, Warner Brothers’ next hope in its DC Universe was Suicide Squad. Despite the initial buzz that surrounded the trailers, news of reshoots hurt its pre-release momentum with the film taking a mauling off critics ahead of its release.
Just as with Batman v Superman, Suicide Squad has seen fans leap to its defence and has impressive box office returns in its opening weekend. Unlike Batman v Superman, the end result is far more entertaining.
After the death of Superman, high-ranking government official Amanda Waller (Viola Davis) assembles a team of dangerous criminals to be used in highly perilous missions. The idea being that these assets are disposable and absolve the government of any liability should anything go wrong.
Lead by Colonel Rick Flag (Joel Kinnaman), the officially named Task Force X is made up of some delightful delinquents including psychotic murderer Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie) and notorious hitman Deadshot (Will Smith). Blackmailed with their lives, the Suicide Squad are sent on a dangerous and secretive mission to fight an unknown enemy that will likely get them killed.
Director David Ayer (End of Watch, Fury) opens up proceedings with a frenetic and adrenaline soaked introduction viewed through a toxic neon gaze. While superhero films are usually criticized for rehashing the same origin story over and over, most of these characters are making their big screen debut and are generally unknown to the wider public. As we’re familiarized with each villain, it does seem a little rushed – however, it also sets things up nicely without dwelling on backstory for too long.
The marketing for the film revolved around Robbie as Quinn. Robbie is brilliant as she flirts between seductress and playful lunatic while never betraying the dangerous undertones of the character. Ayer does well to not oversaturate the audience with Quinn and looks to balance out his cast, although with so many colourful characters vying for attention, the film occasionally suffers from having too many protagonists.
The chemistry between the team is on point for the most part, especially between Robbie and Smith as their two characters’ bond early on. The biggest surprise comes from Jai Courtney’s Captain Boomerang as the Australian actor shows some rugged charm and delivers some laughs. After playing it straight in bland action roles it’s refreshing to see him having some fun in part that suits him.
Suicide Squad promises something different for the comic book movie genre and although it delivers, the third act traps it with a formulaic and predictable structure that will have eyes rolling.
There is a dangerous movie within Suicide Squad that is desperate to be unleashed, but whenever it bears its teeth the leash is pulled back and the muzzle is put on. It’s a step forward for the DCU but, unfortunately, it’s not the giant leap they may have intended to take. Still, it’s fun and often gloriously ridiculous even if a little convoluted.
Thomas Simpson is a writer and filmmaker based in Glasgow, U.K. Find him on Twitter: @Simmy41.