It’s all crazy pretty,” remarks one of the armed men. Harley Quinn smiles ominously nearby, trapped inside her cell. And this writer wonders whether the same can be said for the entirety of Suicide Squad, directed by David Ayer, and D.C.’s latest theatrical effort to outdo the ever-expanding Marvel Cinematic Universe.
Following the incendiary excitement from fans and ordinary moviegoers alike, Suicide Squad’s P.R. team had been conscientiously building up not only what could be the summer blockbuster of the year, but perhaps a righteous offering against the dry cinematic foray of D.C. Comics post-Nolan, and post-Batman v. Superman. And the premise is nothing short of enticing: the most wanted criminals front and center—tapped by the U.S. government now that Superman is dead, to embark on classified and dangerous missions in exchange for clemency.
With this extraordinary proposal spearheaded by Amanda Waller (Viola Davis), a ruthless intelligence official stern on using any means necessary in light of national security, we are soon introduced to the diabolic ensemble: Harleen Quinzel (Margot Robbie), a former asylum psychiatrist who fell madly in love with the Joker, and was eventually baptized as Joker’s insane sidekick, Harley Quinn; the world’s deadliest marksman, Floyd Lawton (Will Smith), also known as Deadshot; pyrokinetic Chato Santana (Jay Hernandez), who now refuses to use his power after a traumatic consequence; thief George Harkness (Jai Courtney); reptilian cannibal Waylon Jones (Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje); and mercenary Christopher Weiss (Adam Beach). The now-dubbed Suicide Squad are all under the command of Colonel Rick Flag (Joel Kinnaman), whose intent on completing the mission is under fantastical duress.
From the beginning, the film is hyperkinetic; a youthful vigor pulses through its first act. We are introduced to these numerous main players through a dizzying montage of flashbacks. This narrative style initially feels rushed, if not something out of a C.W. superhero special. The pacing at this point becomes understandable once it unleashes in its first thirty minutes or so its first action-packed sequence, through its main villain, The Enchantress (Cara Delivingne). Eventually, as it soon reveals from its thin plot, there is not enough reason to blaze through a breakneck pace because there is equally not much payoff.
Suicide Squad inevitably suffers from its hyperactive state. Like an overexcited neuron that rapidly fires, the length of the refractory period needed for the film to recover overcompensates. Inasmuch as it musters every bit of its maniacal energy to direct the film into becoming “cool”: The Joker is unnecessarily peppered in some scenes. Jared Leto’s portrayal, without proper context, and more so without the proper amount of screentime, seems too eager to please. Margot Robbie’s Harley Quinn single-handedly carries the show with her quips and tongue-in-cheek disposition, despite the atrocious male gaze of the director, who apparently devotes more time fixating on Robbie’s flesh than fleshing out the rest of the characters. And it is when we get to the meat of the action that the adrenaline runs out pretty quickly. Suicide Squad stays refractory till the end. It seems that the writers have gotten lazy from that point on. And don’t get me started with The Enchantress that calls to mind a certain multiplayer game.
The movie is occasionally funny. Its humor gels into the madness. But the fun just stops there. The last act is littered with uninspired dialogue and slow-motion sequences that will make you cringe. In the end, we see Suicide Squad too madly in love with itself to see past its self-destruction. At least in that sense, it was a suicide mission accomplished.