The masterful marketing scheme had me hooked on Suicide Squad before I even saw it; David Ayer appeared to be injecting some fun into the bland and underwhelming DC cinematic universe with the colourful pop of the posters and ‘Guardians of the galaxy’ style trailers. Imagine my surprise then when Suicide squad turned out to be the most bland and underwhelming DC film yet; a clichéd plot with one note characters and unoriginal action was always on the cards but what shocked me most was the inherent lack of fun – those trailers I found so compelling lied and all that we are left with is simply another summer blockbuster to check off the list.
The quality of Suicide Squads protagonists covers a wide spectrum with the stronger characters surprisingly being the more obscure. Diablo and Captain Boomerang were the strongest providing the deepest emotion and biggest laughs respectively, with Jai Courtney showing for the first time in his career some screen presence. Will Smith is of course charming and engaging as Deadshot with his flashback being one of the few standout sequences but it did often feel more like Smith was playing himself than the lethal assassin of the comics. The two most hotly anticipated characters, Harley Quinn and the Joker, were the biggest draw for me to the film so its a shame that they were also the biggest disappointment in, coincidentally, the same way. Both characters felt wholly artificial with Letos well publicised off screen antis seeming frankly laughable when this is the ‘brilliant’ performance we get. Margot Robbie doesn’t fare much better, suffering from a bad case of trailer talk, I could painfully feel the breaks for laughter between the countless forced one liners spouting from her lips. This is just one of many painful aspects of the film, the other being the frequent use of songs which, while fun in trailers, are becoming a worrying trend in Hollywood – they seem to think a nostalgic hit can be fun and memorable enough to make us forget the faults of the film.
The visuals were also a mixed bag with costume design being the stand out element of the film, adapting the comics perfectly so that even the weakest characters looked incredible. However the overall palette was incredibly dark and uninteresting with the colour and neon of the posters being replaced by shadows and muted tones. Reshoots were widely reported but I never realised how choppy and muddled the final edit would be; perhaps a cut like Batman vs Superman’s ultimate edition would improve on the poor character development and rushed plot. However, even a new cut couldn’t fix the inherent problems with the film; while we open strong, it soon loses itself in dumps of exposition that slow the opening half to a crawl. The following action heavy half then tries to fit in so much that we are left jarred and struggling to connect to characters who really don’t share that much screen time. The cut and paste plot used here only works if it is backed up by strong character and visuals but both are absent, leaving us with only mediocrity.
Suicide squad is a mess; its bland to look at and worst of all boring. Frankly if Wonder Woman fails to impress I am ready to give up on the DC cinematic universe.