Suicide Squad: Another DC movie we don’t care about
Too many villains spoil the broth in ‘Suicide Squad’ and make it inedible
Nikhil Thiyyar Delhi
Only one central character from the ‘Suicide Squad’ dies at the end of the film; the rest go on to live happily ever after. Analysed this way, the film is in no way better than deceptively titled clickbait. The title and trailers suggested a motley bunch of evil villains who would swagger their way through the movie, delivering one catchy punch-line after another. Suicide Squad was supposed to be the movie that set a lighter tone for the entire DC Universe. It was supposed to be the hangover cure which would alleviate the headache that Batman vs Superman had given DC fans. Instead what we got was a stew-like pastiche full of foreboding and overcast skies that make America look like rain-soaked Cherrapunjee. The annoying colour palette, stripped of all sunlight, just makes the movie an unhappy visual experience for the viewer. And the list of gripes does not end there.
Superhero movies, or in this case supervillain movies, are supposed to possess some moments of levity or sorrow in between all the heavy lifting and apocalyptic fights. This movie has woefully few of those. The uniform pacing of the script ensures that every single scene is either a fight or a build-up to a fight, character development be damned. This is perhaps the movie’s biggest problem. Not enough time is devoted to explaining why a certain character, whether it be Deadshot or Harley Quinn, became that way. As a substitute, they are saddled with cringe-inducing, perfunctory, maudlin backstories and introductory montages that look like hyperstylised Youtube trailers. Instead of being unfettered birds of badassery, our anti-heroes are essentially softies with caramel toffee cores. Even Jared Leto’s Joker is shown to be a die-hard romantic who would go to any length to rescue his beloved Harley Quinn.
These montages achieve only the pedestrian purpose of setting up the squad for the viewers. There is highly skilled assassin Deadshot (Will Smith), manic former psychiatrist and current Joker moll Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie), pyrokinetic Diablo (Jay Hernandez), disfigured former wrestler Killer Croc (Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje), and Australian bank robber Captain Boomerang (Jai Courtney). It is hard to figure out why Captain Boomerang is there at all since he has zero utility and brings nothing to the table.
Watching Leto’s interpretation of the Joker was a mixed bag of sorts. On the one hand, by humanising a sadistic mass-murdering clown, Leto explores what the Nolan trilogy did not. At the same time, Leto’s Joker is one of the worst things about a bad movie. Much has been said about Leto’s school of method acting, which involved sending rats, anal beads and dead pigs to co-actors, on and off the set. All of this would have been condoned as the sacrifice needed to make great art if Leto had pulled the role off. But he didn’t. An unseemly sum of facial tics, manic laughter and high-school tattoos, the Joker in Suicide Squad resembles merely a deranged teenager whom you feel compelled to send to the school counsellor.
In total there are only two fully realised characters in the film: Deadshot and Harley Quinn form its emotional core. The former is basically what Will Smith would look and sound like if he decided to become an assassin. There is no denying that the character feeds off Smith’s natural charisma and terrific screen presence. Harley Quinn is played dexterously by Margot Robbie, who brings out the character’s inner strain in living a life of larceny. Robbie and Smith are, however, not enough to lift a movie that tries at the same time to be adult-like and child-like.
That the overall schema of the movie does not concern itself with the super-villain confronting the villains is a perplexing directorial choice. There is no reason why a set of supposed badasses should have to grapple with a CGI monster who looks like he walked off the sets of Hellboy. There is also no reason why an uber-villain would be called ‘Enchantress’.
In the ultimate analysis, Suicide Squad is like a buffet at an Indian wedding. There are all kinds of staple dishes but the meal’s aftertaste is far from satisfactory. Here’s hoping that Wonder Woman does the trick for DC fanboys.