Saturday, August 13, 2016

Suicide Squad - a confused mess

movie review

Suicide Squad

Starring: Will Smith, Margot Robbie, Jared Leto, Joel Kinnaman, Viola Davis, Jai Courtney, Jay Hernandez, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, Ike Barinholtz, Scott Eastwood, and Cara Delevingne
Directed by: David Ayer
Tagline: Justice has a bad side.

A number of television dramas and films have proved, time and again, that antiheroes can make compelling protagonists. The shades of grey that colour these characters make them fascinating, while their stories offer a blend of touching, amusing and poignant adventures. Expect none of that, however, from Suicide Squad, DC Comics’ disappointing attempt at assembling a super villain ensemble who are assigned the task of saving the world in a film that degenerates into a confused mess.

After the events of Batman vs Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016), intelligence officer Amanda Waller (Viola Davis) comes up with a contingency plan for protecting her country: assembling a team of incarcerated criminals and coercing them to carry out dangerous missions. Dubbed Taskforce X, the group – we’re told in a lengthy roll-call – includes hit-man Deadshot (Will Smith), the Joker’s (Jared Leto) deranged girlfriend Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie), pyrokinetic gangster El Diablo (Jay Hernandez), thief Captain Boomerang (Jai Courtney), and disfigured crook Killer Croc (Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje). But a potential recruit, ancient sorceress Enchantress who takes over the body of an archaeologist (Cara Delevingne), turns into the story’s villain, summoning an army of monsters and threatening the world. It is up to the aforementioned group of assorted lunatics and convicts to stop her.

With a plot that seems like a jumble of incoherent twaddle, Suicide Squad marches into a marsh of dullness and sets camp there for its overlong, two hour running time. Overcrowded with more operatives than necessary, the film doesn’t bother to develop most of its characters into anything beyond one-dimensional stereotypes, and its collective of the “worst of the worst” neither seems particularly menacing, nor possesses enough depth to be intriguing. Its villain, in particular, is a complete embarrassment. Enchantress feels more like a Ghostbusters reject than a baddie who has any place is a superhero movie; the character is made all the worse by Cara Delevingne’s grating attempts at acting which predictably fall flat.

The movie’s biggest crime, though, is that it wastes opportunities and lets down characters that have the potential to be fascinating. The primary example is Harley Quinn – Margot Robbie nails the part and this zany psychiatrist-turned-psychopath deserves to be in a better movie. Will Smith also gives a competent performance as Deadshot, although his character doesn’t have anything particularly memorable to do here. Jared Leto’s Joker is weird in all the wrong ways and feels extraneous to the adventure. Most of the other characters fare worse though, as they are simply forgettable.

Not even marginally as funny or exciting as Marvel’s terrific misfit-ensemble outing Guardians of the Galaxy (2014), DC’s Suicide Squad is about as compelling as Fantastic Four (2015), only louder and with a better lead actor (Smith) and actress (Robbie). Director David Ayer has created a choppy, predictable movie with a distracting pop soundtrack, and has failed to instill it with the humour or suspense that would make it entertaining. Ultimately, what we’re left with is characters we don’t care about doing things that aren’t interesting in a world that isn’t convincing.

Rating: 1.5 out of 5

- Sameen Amer

The Express Tribune - 13th August, 2016 *

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