The Warner Bros studio execs must be sitting round their boardroom table lamenting ‘Why does no-one like our DC superhero movies?’ For while Marvel’s cinematic universe continues to pump out solid box office hits, Suicide Squad is getting the same brickbats thrown at it that Batman Vs Superman did. With Wonder Woman in the can, Justice League entering post-production and a whole roster of other origin movies lined up, it’s time for the DC-universe to get a bit of fan love.
David Ayer’s movie is helped immeasurably by some standout performances from Margot Robbie as Joker’s beau Harley Quinn and Will Smith as pro-assassin Deadshot. Killer Croc is also beautifully realised as a full monster suit, thus avoiding the obvious CGI choice. But the movie as a whole is, like Batman Vs Superman, just a bit all over the place. It tries to fit a lot in, with multiple character intros and arcs and yet ultimately doesn’t really have a lot to say. In essence, the world is very aware that the human race is at risk now that Superman is no longer around to protect them and that a task force of meta-human or expertly-skilled cannon fodder might save the day, or at least die trying. Thus we get the hoary old cinematic convention of a bunch of misfits thrown together, and they eventually bond to save the day. Except, that’s not the film we want to see. And enough with the use of a different classic song to underscore the introduction of a character – it’s jukebox overload. Even Steven Price’s score feels like it’s from a different universe than Hans Zimmer’s previous, epic soundtracks.
We want to watch the one that’s being teased on the fringes. Jared Leto’s Joker is a vile gangster, pimped up with bling, his body a canvas for tattoos. But he remains on the peripherary, dropping in when required to fill in Harley’s back story or to move things along. He’s more than the cameo that some would have you believe, but neither is he fulfilling the role that such a major character deserves. Equally, Batfleck’s Caped Crusader makes a limited appearance in flashbacks, both in full batsuit and Batmobile, but does little more.
Supporting cast like Viola Davis, Joe Kinnaman and Jai Courtney are all fine, but ultimately make little impact amongst the gunfire and spent bullet cartridges. The third act resolution with the big bad is very uninspired – I’ve seen this finale in Ghostbusters, Independence Day: Resurgence and B Vs S this year. The real interest is in the character interaction, the banter and comedy (it’s no laughter fest but thankfully not as po-faced as Zack Snyder’s superhero smackdown).
Is it the result of studio interference, the fear that by not shoehorning big hitters like the Joker and Batman into it that audiences wouldn’t turn up, or is the story just too generic to offer something memorable?
Verdict: It’s ok, just not great, and DC need to find their cinematic mojo pretty soon before what little goodwill there is finally leaks down into the sewers to join Killer Croc. 6/10
Check out Brian J. Robb’s new biography of Margot Robbie, available here