REVIEW: Suicide Squad

Written by Liam Taft

Suicide Squad is a film crippled by its own hype. The trailer which has ranked in excess of 70 million views on YouTube, promised a movie injected with madness. The neon poster, even, envisaged a hallucinogenic blockbuster that ramped up the crazy to 11. DC fanatics and everyday movie goers tired with the generic superhero movie template were sent into a state of frenzy, resulting in this being one of the most anticipated films of the year. 


Anticipated blockbuster

When the film was released on the 5th of August, Suicide Squad was met with stern critical views. A 28% rating on Rotten Tomatoes ostensibly sealed the fate of the summer’s most anticipated blockbuster. 

However, Suicide Squad has managed to take $634million worldwide at the box office thus far, even before the film opens in Japan. Money aside, audience enthusiasm managed to gain the film a 6.8 rating on IMDb. 

Suicide Squad has had a polarising effect – it is an example of few films that have managed to be a summer hit with little critical praise. It’s a shame, then, that it doesn’t quite deserve all the success it’s enjoying. 

Dangerous villains

The synopsis is as follows: the world is under threat (again), and the only way to stop evil forces from taking over is to enlist the world’s most dangerous villains. The Joker, Harley Quinn, Deadshot and a team of others are recruited to take down the Enchantress. 

What the film suffers from most is a lack of good characterisation. Harley and Deadshot are given the most screen time, the former playing for laughs, and the latter adding the film’s emotional weight. Yet, the rest of the bunch become lost as Harey and Deadshot take the limelight. Each character is given a backstory, via flashback, Orange is the New Black style, but these become increasingly succinct. Eventually, the team of meta-humans are reduced to Top Trump cards. What promised to be a subversive character ensemble is lacking in what many craved to see – the relationships between these notorious villains. 

Bad editing also weakens the film: High-octane action sequences outstay their welcome, and the film’s quieter beats are cut short; it feels stagnated, both dragging and whipping along too quickly. This Is most likely due to studio intervention; reshoots took place earlier in the year to add more action, which ends up being banal and senseless. You may get more bangs for your buck, but its comes at a cost. 

Brilliantly cruel

There is praise to be given in the performances: Margot Robbie is great fun as Harley Quinn; Will Smith manages to be sensitive, stoic and resilient as Deadshot; and Viola Davis is brilliantly cruel as Amanda Waller, the stern federal agent who puts the team together. In a film of so many disappointments, her curst tongue makes her the most badass character in the whole thing. 

Suicide Squad has its moments – the humour, at times, works well, and Viola Davis steals the show – but overall it is an incoherent mess. A victim of its own hype, misleading marketing and bad reviews (apologies), Suicide Squad has been 2016’s biggest disappointment. Expectation does have a part to play in the film’s polarising effect, but at its core where DC’s latest outing fails is in holding back on what many were excited to see – an insight into the genre’s craziest characters.