A scrambled, desperate film, Suicide Squad is another entry in the DC extended universe and another advertisement for a franchise. Like Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, this 2016 movie is a link in a longer chain. And like Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, Suicide Squad is pretty bad.
David Ayer directs and writes this chaotic hunk of candy-coated drivel. He deserves some credit for lifting things out of the glum lethargy provided by Zack Snyder’s colossal bore. That said, cinematographer Roman Vasyanov navigates a series of foggy action sequences with a shrug and floats through sudden bursts of near-neon with little innovation.
The film takes place with Superman gone and intelligence agent Amanda Waller (Viola Davis) assembling a team of dangerous criminals to serve as non-refundable assets in a dangerous field. These criminals include the hitman Deadshot (Will Smith), the nutjob Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie), the firebug El Diablo (Jay Hernandez), and the shoplifter Boomerang (Jai Courtney).
The team, dubbed Task Force X, heads into Midway City after the Enchantress (Cara Delevingne) decides to kill everyone with some sort of magical weapon. Things go from bad to worse when the Joker (Jared Leto) starts tooling around in search of his girlfriend Harley Quinn.
There are other members of Task Force X, like Killer Croc (Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje) and the field leader Rick Flag (Joel Kinnaman). Slipknot (Adam Beach) is also part of the group, while Katana (Karen Fukuhara) is a volunteer or something. It should be mentioned that Batman (Ben Affleck) shows up now and then, albeit in flashback form.
Speaking of flashbacks, Suicide Squad has its fair share. The movie likes to interrupt itself a lot because it doesn’t have enough plot or momentum to pull through two hours. Most of the flashbacks concern Harley Quinn’s relationship with the Joker or Deadshot’s family life. That Ayer thinks these sequences are still necessary after nearly 20 minutes of expository introduction is telling.
Of all the characters, Smith’s Deadshot is the most sympathetic. He kills for cash and wants to do right by his daughter. He’s a spectacular marksman and apparently never misses. Smith brings certain weight to the part and seems involved enough to provide some essential human dimensions to the tale.
Leto’s Joker is almost entirely redundant and his command of the role is of the try-hard variety, where every scene is a stretch or a dare from a kid still trying to find the edge. His Joker is caked in kitschy tattoos and is more pimp than Clown Prince, complete with “Damaged” inked on his forehead. He seems better suited to hanging around a mall food court than terrorizing a city.
Robbie’s Harley Quinn is Joker’s love connection and they share one of those “dysfunctional” relationships all the kids seem to enjoy. There’s a mandatory anarchy fuelling their relationship, but there’s little by way of gleeful evil or difficult lust or warped sex or actual feeling to be found. Robbie’s on-again off-again accent doesn’t help, but she looks good in shorts.
But honestly, who cares? Suicide Squad is just another commercial and just another blast of blockbuster froth. It angles toward the superior Deadpool with its “humour,” but forgets to invest. Instead, it mistakes cuing up a dreadful range of songs with coaxing out attitude and bops the audience on the head with one of the dullest villains ever committed to film. It is an inept, cumbersome fiasco.