Cast: Will Smith, Margot Robbie, Viola Davis, Jai Courtney, Jared Leto, Jay Hernandez, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, Ike Barinholtz, Cara Delevingne
Director: David Ayer
In the world of Superman and Batman, various supervillains are locked up in Belle Reve penitentiary in New Orleans. US government official Amanda Waller (Viola Davis) wants to use these supervillains as a potential fail-safe against out of control threats, nicknamed the Suicide Squad, comprising of master-assassin Deadshot (Will Smith), the mutant Killer Croc (Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje), Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie) the Joker’s girlfriend, Captain Boomerang (Jai Courtney) and the fire demon El Diablo (Jay Hernandez). An ancient Mayan sorceress called the Enchantress (Cara Delevingne) possesses a human host and sets out to unleash an age of darkness, and it’s up to these villains to become good guys.
Suicide Squad, much like Guardians of the Galaxy and Ant-Man embraces its C-list status. Its characters are losers, yet by exploring their motivations, it makes the argument that these psychos and freaks, in the right time and place, can become every bit as selfless and courageous as heroes, and perhaps more selfless since their actions will be unknown and unrewarded by the world. The visual style has a cohesiveness that is rare in the genre. Rather than multiple locations, we have a single city. Rather than a multi-stage confrontation between a hero and villain, we have action set in a small pocket of time (a single night), and most of the action is character-driven. If the film has flaws they are that it occasionally gets too caught up in itself, tackles too many subplots and it overuses pop-songs by inserting it awkwardly and using numbers that are perhaps too famous and overexposed.
The strength of Suicide Squad is its actors, namely the three leads — Deadshot, Harley Quinn and Waller. Deadshot is far darker than normal for Will Smith’s characters, he still brings his charisma, wit and charm to the character, but the character is a sociopath who kills without remorse and is entirely amoral and remorseless. Robbie has become well known from The Wolf of Wall Street and last year’s Focus (also starring Will Smith), and she’s incredibly funny and weird as Harley, a character who is simultaneously mentally ill, dangerous and as endearing as any bubbly girl with her head in the clouds for her boyfriend. Viola Davis’ Waller is a more realistic and scarier take on Samuel Jackson’s Nick Fury character, ruthless and unsentimental, yet at the same time compelling, shrewd and convincing in her motivations. The rest of the cast is underused, especially Killer Croc, while Jay Herandez’s El Diablo compensates for the lack of screen time by getting the film’s emotional highpoint.
One unexpected disappointment is Jared Leto, who cameos as the Joker in the film’s subplot. He does well in the part, but he simply doesn’t hold a candle to Jack Nicholson and Heath Ledger. It seems that the best material for him is saved for a future movie, which is a shame. Suicide Squad is an ensemble action movie in the vein of The Dirty Dozen and Inglourious Basterds: unpretentious, irreverent, perverse and unexpectedly moving. It has little of the sentimentalism and pretentiousness of recent superhero movies like Batman v Superman and Captain America: Civil War, and like Guardians of the Galaxy it points the way forward for a less conventional outing in the genre.
The writer is programmer, Lightcube Film Society...