Killer quips from Margot Robbie, Will Smith & co make up for clumsy plotting and messy action in DC Comics' bad-guys-on-a-mission movie Suicide Squad.
‘What a ride!’ exclaims Margot Robbie’s psychopathic kook Harley Quinn, prancing away from a helicopter crash during a fiery moment in supervillain adventure Suicide Squad. Whenever she’s around, that’s true of the movie, too.
A sex bomb liable to explode in your face at any moment, her firecracker character is the best thing about the film by far. But even when she isn’t hogging the limelight, gleefully wielding a baseball bat as a weapon or dropping tart one-liners with a deranged leer, this bad-guys-on-a-mission movie is far from being the bust you may have heard.
For all its flaws, Suicide Squad shares enough of her anarchic swagger to work as a darkly comic subversion of more earnest superhero fantasies. It’s certainly more fun than the previous screen instalment in Warner Bros’ stuttering attempt to establish the DC Extended Universe as a viable screen franchise, the interminably dull Batman V Superman.
“The Suicide Squad”
Robbie’s Quinn is a member of the eponymous Suicide Squad, a group of incarcerated villains sprung from custody by US intelligence to battle even worse foes. This Dirty Half-Dozen comes together at the behest of Viola Davis’s ruthless Amanda Waller, a badass bureaucrat who delivers snappy flashback summaries of the group for the benefit of her colleagues (and us) at the start of the film.
Will Smith’s Deadshot is a remorseless assassin who loves his daughter; Jai Courtney’s Captain Boomerang a thuggish Aussie thief; El Diablo (Jay Hernandez) a pyrokinetic gang-banger with a tragic past; Killer Croc (Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje) a sewer-dwelling cannibal with reptilian skin; Slipknot (Adam Beach) a mercenary with a knack for ropes.
“Psychiatrist turned gangster’s moll”
As for Quinn, she’s a former psychiatrist turned gangster’s moll, having gone deliriously off the rails after falling in love with her patient, the Joker (Jared Leto, given the near impossible task of following Heath Ledger’s mesmerising, scene-stealing turn in The Dark Knight but managing none the less to put his own indelible stamp on the character).
The one tasked with keeping this outfit in line is Joel Kinnaman’s special-forces hero Rick Flag, a straight-arrow type in danger of being bent out of shape by his love for intrepid archaeologist June Moone (Cara Delevingne). Unfortunately for Flagg, his girlfriend became possessed during an expedition by a 6,000-year-old evil spirit called the Enchantress, who looks as if she is wreathed in a smoky, sparking bonfire whenever she manifests.
“Snarky quips and put-downs”
These characters are quirky enough to keep us engaged, but writer-director David Ayer, maker of cop thriller End of Watch and WW2 tank movie Fury, doesn’t make the most of their potential. The mission he sends them on quickly boils down to a relatively routine slugfest in which the squad battle supernatural entities in monster-beset Midway City. And when he does spring a surprise midway through, it smacks of confused storytelling rather than a killer reveal.
Happily, there are frequent interludes in the action for the gang to trade snarky quips and put-downs (‘You’re a serial killer who takes credit cards,’ snarls Flagg to Deadshot). The banter reaches its peak when the squad take a break to josh around in a bar before the final onslaught. The scene doesn’t make much sense from a narrative point of view but it’s great fun all the same. Despite clumsy plotting and messy action, so is the movie.
Certificate 15. Runtime 123 mins. Director David Ayer