“Worst. Heroes. Ever.”
Directed by David Ayer
Starring Will Smith, Jared Leto, Margot Robbie, Joel Kinnaman, Viola Davis, Jai Courtney, Jay Hernandez, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, Karen Fukuhara, Cara Delevingne
In the wake of the second destruction of Metropolis and the death of Superman, government fixer Amanda Waller (Jones) proposes the formation of a team. Composed of ‘the worst of the worst,’ Task Force X is to be a deniable, disposable, arguably metahuman squad, for combating metahuman threats. Her top picks are: Deadshot (Smith), father of the year and world’s greatest sniper; Harley Quinn (Robbie), a ‘true wild card’; Captain Boomerang (Courtney), a bank robber with a boomerang; Diablo (Hernandez), an ex-gang banger with actual superpowers; and Killer Croc (Akinnuoye-Agbaje), a scaled giant. Rounding off the pick are existing assets Enchantress (Delavingne), a six thousand year old metahuman witch controlled by injuring her heart, which is in a box, and Rick Flag (Kinnaman), a special forces officer who is in love with Enchantress’ host, archaeologist June Moone.
Does that seem like a lot of characters? Wait! There’s more! Last minute addition Slipknot (Adam Beach) is added to show how their cranial explosives work, Flag’s bodyguard Katana (Fukuhara) literally joins at the last minute, and then there’s Joker (Leto), who is around much less than some publicity may have suggested.
The squad is deployed when Enchantress goes rogue, frees her brother from his own magically induced coma and tries to build a weapon based on plans downloaded from Dr Doom. They are sent into Midway City, a fair sized urban area that no-one gives a fuck about, to extract a single VIP, but when everything goes sideways and the world stands on the edge of destruction, Deadshot leads the team on a death or glory charge to be the unlikeliest big, damn heroes since Deadpool.
What’s wrong with it?
The opening twenty minutes of this film is nothing but soundtrack bait and origin stories.
It was once claimed that evil would always triumph, because good is dumb. Well, this film is full of evil and just loaded with stupidity. Pretty much anyone who is employed in the film’s narrative could reasonably expect to be asked what the hell their employers pay them for.
When Joker shows up to rescue Harley, Waller orders her killed. Flag protests that the head bomb isn’t working, as Quinn runs in front of his machine gun. Actually, Flag is pretty rubbish all round.
Waller then orders Deadshot to kill Quinn, apparently unaware of a hard and fast rule against killing women or kids (not counting immortal god witches,) which Diablo clearly knows about, ignoring the fact that she has a gunship in position, and so badly harms her credibility as a badass. Overall, Waller lacks the necessary hard-arsed precision and comes off more as a blustering bureaucrat, especially in the post-credit stinger when she’s basically begging Bruce Wayne for protection from… the Government?
Argus constantly treats the remote-controlled head bombs as a kind of captive bolt pistol, getting all up in people’s faces with the smartphone controllers, despite the whole point being that it’s a bullet they can’t dodge, wherever they go.
As well as screwing the pooch by assigning Flag as Enchatress’ minder with the intention that he will fall in love with her, thus rendering him vulnerable to coersion based on threats to her life, Waller apparently assigns her recruits to Belle Reve security garrison without checking to find out that the warden is a careless, needlessly sadistic, gambling-addict. When she says ‘I put him in a hole and threw away the hole,’ what she really means is ‘Joker has probably found out exactly where they are by now.’
For the Clown Prince of Crime, in any incarnation, Joker is following a weirdly precise and linear plan.
What is Boomerang doing there? His only conceivable qualification seems to be ‘got nabbed by the Flash.’ In all seriousness, Blade had more idea of how a boomerang could be used in superhuman combat. Hell, Daredevil‘s Bullseye was a better version of this Captain Boomerang (although with a worse accent.) In fact, none of the Squad really have much to recommend them over, say, another Navy SEAL. Deadshot, Croc and Diablo make some sense, but the film never sells the inclusion of Quinn or Boomerang beyond the fact that they’re established Squad members. Basically, the film fails to make the members of the Task Force seem remarkable; just a bit… odd.
Neither is it clear why this was a job for the Suicide Squad. “Hey, we need a reliable team to extract Amanda Waller and be in immediate proximity to the only two controls for Task Force X’s head bombs at the same time.”
Delevingne’s Enchantress is a singularly uninspiring villain. The film makes very little of her relationship with Flag, which leaves her little more than a cackling pantomime devil, and her performance is not stellar.
Apparently, Harley Quinn can be seduced with the promise of a life right out of 1950s suburbia, and Deadshot’s greatest wish is to have killed Batman. Not to be with his daughter, but to have killed Batman. That’s a nice redeeming trait you’ve got there, Deadshot.
What’s right with it?
The film is saved from utter ruination by its cast, who are supremely and effortlessly charismatic, even when being utter arseholes. Which, to be honest, they really aren’t very much. The dialogue is largely functional, but delivered with supreme gusto.
How bad is it really?
What do you call a superhero battle with no superpowers? Boring! You can do an exciting non-super fight scene, but there’s something very superhero about the fights in this film that really highlights the fact that none of the characters – save Diablo – have much in the way of actual superpowers and that the film is not making hay with their literally mad skills. In the final analysis, Suicide Squad is not bad, but it’s not good either. It’s just… there, and it’s okay, but it’s a lot of money and hype for ‘okay’.
Best bit (if such there is)?
Diablo, kind of an also ran for much of the film, although his stance of affirmed non-violence makes him one of the more interesting characters, shrugs off the false promise of Enchantress’ visions, and then goes Super Mode for a redemptive no-score draw smack down with her brother. It’s basically the only serious superpower moment in the movie.
What’s up with…?
- Why, besides needing to be in the final fight to do… nothing much, did Boomerang suddenly get sentimental?
- Harley’s relationship with time? She jumps in a lift, goes up six floors while fighting two zomboids, and the rest of the Squad are already there when she arrives. Did they run? And how did she recover from a controlled but heavy fall, get off a completely different building and into the street in time to arrange herself on a car before the rest could just leave a building.
- What was the plan to deal with Enchantress and her brother if they’d successfully evaced Waller? Just… that had Suicide Squad written all over it.
Production values – Overall the production is slick, but some of the mission scenes are overdark and the final battle wreathed in smoke; a stylistic choice, perhaps, but it makes the action hard to follow. 8
Dialogue and performances – So, the film scores high for dialogue, with top laurels going to Flag’s ham-fisted introduction of Katana and her Soultaker Blade, but pulls back a lot for the conviction and charisma of (most of) the cast. 10
Plot and execution – There’s a strong sense that a lot of what happens in the film happens because that’s what happens in a Suicide Squad story, rather than because it’s part of a coherent narrative. The main plot has a somewhat unnecessary and illogical detour as Task Force X is sent to rescue the one person they have most vested interest in seeing dead. 15
Randomness – There are a few moments where the film is clearly including something for the sake of it, such as Harley’s elevator ride, and motivations seem to be largely geared towards moving the plot rather than maintaining coherent characters. 8
Waste of potential – Well, I certainly know that a lot of people were hoping for more from this, and there are a lot of minor flaws adding up to a pretty heavy slant towards the incoherent. 15