The trailer looked good. The critics disagreed. The question became: how bad is Suicide Squad?
Not bad at all, in my opinion! It’s definitely flawed, but going in with such low expectations (and ice cream! Improves any movie! ;)) there was a lot of fun to be had here.
The premise: following the events in Batman v Superman (2016), the powers that be are worried that they cannot hope to survive against a meta-human (not that they have really been identified in the DCEU (expanded universe) yet, I believe?) who decides to be ‘foe’ rather than Superman friendly. Step forward shadowy government agency, Argos, and its morally dubious head, Amanda Waller, with a plan so bad it might just be good: put together a team of the worst criminals, and let them fight the battles the army can’t. Besides, if it all goes wrong, they can just “throw them under the bus.” Charming.
The first big flaw of the movie comes from the introductions to this Task Force X. It’s a looong line of intros. And the importance of the characters is spelled out by the time they get, speeding up as we go through the list. So, Will Smith’s Deadshot gets a lot of time – and the character gets a backstory and some motivation and roundness. Margot Robbie’s Harley Quinn also gets a lot of time, and I’d argue is the most interesting character – perhaps too interesting, as this intro barely scratches the surface of her background. And then it starts to get a little blurrier, until a couple of members just turn up, no intros at all. Hmm.
Such is the length of these introductions that the move into ‘actual plot’ is rather badly handled. I’m sure it was at least an hour of movie before I got past that feeling of still being in pre-story mode, even though the main mission had begun. Once we’re past that blip, though, SS manages to be a rather fun action movie. It’s not as dark as previous DC offerings, although much grimier than anything from Marvel. I’d read of reshoots to put more humour in, and if there was originally less than there is here (a bare minimum to lift the story and easily the highlights), I’m really glad they did!
Best character of the movie for me was easily the utterly deranged Harley Quinn. Alas, the handling of the Joker subplot is also the worst thing in the movie – this is SO iconic, a story that would easily be a whole movie, that relegating it to a background thing feels just way off. You should never feel you’ve seen a less interesting part of the story than the one dangled just offscreen.
Overall: go in with low expectations (and snacks!) and this can be a fun bit of entertainment. Be prepared, though, for grumbling about how it could have been quite a bit better handled! Still, I liked it more than the Superman and Batman movies that have preceded it, and perhaps have some extra hope for the DCEU.
Released: 5th August 2016
Viewed: 13th August 2016
Running time: 123 minutes
My rating: 7/10 – I’m feeling generous!