Review: Suicide Squad

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I must congratulate the marketing folks at Warner Bros, they do a really good job of selling. The trailers made Suicide Squad look like the best superhero film since The Dark Knight trilogy. Sadly it is not and while being fun is ultimately nothing new at all.

The film is based in the same fictional universe as Batman vs Superman: Dawn of Justice, and follows on from the events of that film. The US government decide that a group of super-villains should be assembled to be sent on missions at the bidding of the government. The team involves Deadshot (Will Smith) and Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie). The cast also includes Jared Leto playing the Joker, as we have seen him before, although there is not much of him to go on.

The film itself is pretty much the same as any other superhero film, although it stars super-villains. There is one great bar scene, and some of the action is entertaining, but other action scenes are generic at best.

Will Smith gives a good performance as Deadshot, acting as the emotional centre for the film. Margot Robbie is cast perfectly for the role of Harley Quinn. Jared Leto easily gives the best performance as a Joker and is much more like an organised crime boss than Heath Ledger’s adaptation, an interesting depiction of a character that I would like to see more of in future.

The main villain in the film has not been featured in promotional material, for good reason. It is as generic as many tropes within the film.

What made this film miss the mark? This is question that people have been finding more interesting than the film itself. Reports have suggested that Ayer originally made the film darker in tone but that Warner Bros wanted it to be more humorous and light-hearted, like the films by Marvel Studios. Re-shoots earlier this year suggest this to be plausible, alongside the fact that Jared Leto let it be known that many of his scenes were cut from the film. Superhero films are notorious for incompetent studio editing  – perhaps they should learn to let the artists do their own thing?

David Ayer has claimed that the final cut of the film is his and that there is no Director’s Cut on its way. I admire how he stands by his product, but I also wonder if he just wants to keep a solid working relationship with Warner Bros?

Such reports depress me, I do not understand why executives with no proven track record think they know better than popular and often Oscar-winning directors? Talented directors like Edgar Wright have quit superhero film projects for exactly this reason and suggests that the optimal way of making a comic-book universe is on TV, where creators have to make compromises with showrunners. This leaves space for talented creators to make the films they want on the big screen, like Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy – widely regarded as the best superhero films of all time.

Speculation aside, Suicide Squad is fun in parts –  even if it is like other superhero films before it!