Bombastic but disjointed ‘Suicide Squad’
The new film based on DC Comics characters, “Suicide Squad,” flashily introduces a gritty superteam, but ultimately, it ends up a rather disjointed fantasy outing.
While DC’s Extended Universe—the live-action, cinematic realm—expands considerably with the addition of a diverse gang of supervillains in the David Ayer film, it resorts to narrative and visual clichés that keep it from becoming truly spectacular.
It begins promisingly, though, handling several debuting characters in either grandiose or foreboding fashion. Assembled by Amanda Waller (Viola Davis), Task Force X—later dubbed the “Suicide Squad”—is an expendable strike team composed of metahuman or extraskilled criminals, a group that works for the US government.
There’s the excellent marksman, Deadshot (Will Smith); the insane and acrobatic Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie); the pyrokinetic El Diablo (Jay Hernandez); the Aussie thief Captain Boomerang (Jai Courtney); the ancient mystic Enchantress (Cara Delevingne), and the man-reptile Killer Croc (Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje). They’re kept in line by injected microscopic explosives, and are guarded by Waller’s agent Rick Flag (Joel Kinnaman) and the Japanese swordswoman, Katana (Karen Fukuhara).
Its first half is quite fun—it’s got some hip and edgy graphics, mood-setting pop and rock songs, and a fused video game-comics sensibility, à la “Scott Pilgrim.” It’s also influenced by “Deadpool’s” irreverence and kinky bits, but severely toned down.
It’s able to cram in worthwhile back stories, spread haphazardly throughout the film—these make many of the drafted villains distinct individuals, at least. But it rapidly becomes a normal, overly familiar superhero shoot-’em-up by the next half.
It bafflingly turns into a mishmash of the big showdowns from “Ghostbusters,” “Avengers,” “Thor: The Dark World,” and even some of the effects-enlivened battles from the TV series, “The Flash.”
Speaking of the Scarlet Speedster, there are future Justice League members who appear, helping imbue a sense of connectedness and a lighter vibe, leaving behind the deliberate dourness of the recent “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice.”
Its unoriginality aside, the movie has bombastic characters that stand out: Harley Quinn and her mentor-boyfriend, the Joker (Jared Leto), are given sequences that—while not always mind-blowing—offer an intriguing rapport.
Robbie is magnetic as the smitten but savage Harley, a presence that constantly radiates, her hit-and-miss lines notwithstanding. And Leto gives a moody, brooding Joker with a bold fashion sense—not quite the menacing, unpredictable madman that the previous Joker, played by the late Heath Ledger, was. But perhaps future appearances in DC’s other films may yet realize this new Clown Prince of Crime’s outrageous potential.