Saturday, 6 August 2016

Suicide Squad

Year of Release:  2016
Director:  David Ayer
Screenplay:  David Ayer, based on characters from DC Comics
Starring:  Will Smith, Margot Robbie, Jared Leto, Viola Davis, Joel Kinnaman, Jai Courtney, Jay Hernandez, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, Ike Barinholz, Scott Eastwood, Cara Delevingne, Karen Fukuhara
Running Time:  123 minutes
Genre:  Action, superhero

This film had a lot of weight on it before release.  After the critical failure of Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016), this was the film that, it was hoped, would salvage the DC Comics Cinematic Universe.  The story takes up shortly after the events of Batman v Superman.  Realising that the American people are now living in a world of supermen, batmen and wonder women, and all their dastardly villains too, intelligence agent Amanda Waller (Davis) devises a task force made up of dangerous "metahuman" (superpowered) criminals: Elite hitman Deadshot (Smith), the deranged Harley Quinn (Robbie), pyrokinetic ex-gangster El Diablo (Hernandez), opportunistic thief Captain Boomerang (Courtney), reptilian cannibal Killer Croc (Akinnuoye-Agbaje), mercenary Slipknot (Adam Beach), and powerful, ancient witch The Enchantress whose spirit inhabits the body of archaeologist Dr. June Moone  (Delevingne).  The idea is that they will be forced to combat any alien or metahuman threat.  They are put under the command of  tough Colonel Rick Flagg (Kinnaman), who is also June's boyfriend and hopes to rid her of The Enchantress.  The members of the task force are implanted with small but lethal bombs to ensure their compliance, and are watched over by swordfighter Katana (Fukuhara), whose sword harvests souls.  Of course, before long they are sent out on a mission against an otherworldly threat, while also being pursued themselves by Harley's psychotic and abusive boyfriend, The Joker (Leto).

The behind the scenes stories surrounding this film have become almost legendary (for example Jared Leto, who allegedly never broke character throughout the entire shoot, sending dead rats and other animals to members of the cast).  The film was also heavily edited after test screenings.  The film is kind of messy, it tries to pack too much into too short a time and suffers from the problem that a lot of franchise movies seem to have of feeling like a trailer for other movies.  The tone is inconsistent throughout, moving from fizzy, day-glo, punk-rock style to a dour, gloomy action film and back again.  However there is a lot to like about it and it is an entertaining film.  The action scenes, by and large, are exciting and well choreographed, and the characters are intriguing (unfortunately many of the Squad members, such as Katana and Killer Croc never really get a chance to shine).  The performances are good with Will Smith as charismatic as ever, making Deadshot an appealing and interesting character, despite being a ruthless assassin, with a cliched backstory (he's doing it for his daughter, bless 'im).  Margot Robbie is superb as the volatile Harley Quinn, although Jared Leto, for all his method acting,  makes the Joker like a particularly eccentric 1940s crime boss, without the nihilistic edge that Heath Ledger had in The Dark Knight (2008).  Also it never really explores the sheer wrongness of Harley and the Joker's relationship.  Viola Davis impresses as the chilling Amanda Waller, who is a big believer in the ends justifying any means.  Ben Affleck appears briefly as Batman.

The DC Comics movies seem to be aiming for a darker tone to the essentially upbeat Marvel Comics films, and that is no bad thing.  Although, aside from Christopher Nolan's Dark Knight trilogy which seems to have been removed from the DC Cinematic Universe, there has yet to be a truly great film, but hopefully that will come.

Suicide Squad is a fun, exciting mess, that has a lot wrong, but is never less than entertaining.  Hopefully there will be a director's cut released at some point.

Meet the Suicide Squad: Jai Courtney, Margot Robbie, Will Smith, Karen Fukuhara, Joel Kinnaman, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje and Jay Hernandez

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