If you’re the type of nerd who’s brought himself up on DC comic books, you’d be all too familiar with the irreverent premise of Suicide Squad. A ragtag bunch of villains get together to save the world. Because they’re inherently bad, they don’t have to bother themselves with being good. There’s no sanctimony or righteousness in their demeanour. They just kick butt with a charming nonchalance. A film adaptation, you’d expect, would rival Deadpool. Sadly, though, there’s very little about Suicide Squad that’s fun. In the hands of Warner Bros, the comic has lost its humour and its delicious cynicism. The film is forgettable, and much like Batman vs Superman, is a tad too manic.

Suicide Squad’s Villains Border on Caricatures, Film Companion

Amanda Waller is a badass federal agent with a plan.

Amanda Waller (Viola Davis) is a badass federal agent with a plan. She puts together Team Force X that is comprised of what she calls “the worst of the worst”. Incarcerated for a litany of crafty assassinations, Deadshot (Will Smith) never misses his target. Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie) is the Joker’s sweetheart for a reason – she is callous in her sadism and can take out a room of armed men without smearing her already smudged lipstick. There are other characters in this bunch, but like in the film, they deserve only a passing mention. There’s the mouthy Captain Boomerang (Jai Courtney) and Killer Croc (Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje) who suffers a reptilian skin condition. El Diablo (Jay Hernandez) can leave the world aflame. Trouble is that he never sets our screens on fire. Not once.

To combat these supervillains, you need a super supervillain. Enter the Enchantress (Cara Delevingne), a witch who seems to have been plucked out of really bad folklore. Her grouse against mankind spans centuries and she creates an army of downright ugly soldiers who have boils instead of eyes and can be taken out with a simple thwack on the head. You need to think of Suicide Squad as a video game. The film’s characters switch between guns and baseball bats, crossing stages to eventually encounter the Enchantress. All this could have been enjoyable if the movie was more Call of Duty. Suicide Squad feels like Tetris, a game you play when you’re terribly bored.

Suicide Squad’s Villains Border on Caricatures, Film Companion

If not for Will Smith and Margot Robbie, Suicide Squad would have been unwatchable.

Like in the first Avengers, the threat in Suicide Squad also comes from the sky, but unlike that blockbuster, there’s never any anticipation, there’s no edge-of-your-seat moment and most disappointingly, there’s hardly a single dialogue that really stays with you. If not for Will Smith and Margot Robbie, Suicide Squad would have been unwatchable. More than anyone in his pack, Smith oscillates between engagement and disinterest with an unmatched ease. Robbie plays the unpredictable Harley with an allure that’s instantly seductive. At one point, she looks at the samurai sword-wielding Katana (Karen Fukahara) and says, “Love the perfume. What is that? The stench of death?” You want more of this humour, but director David Ayer (Fury) is too stingy with the funny.

Suicide Squad’s Villains Border on Caricatures, Film Companion

Jared Leto never adds to the narrative. He just swells the progress of a scene or two

Oh and I almost forgot, Jared Leto is in this film. And that’s the problem. You really will forget his Joker. Leto never adds to the narrative. He just swells the progress of a scene or two. The DC universe is one that’s rich and all that Suicide Squad does is borrow its stencil. It forgets to colour in the lines it has so clumsily drawn. There’s not a shred of darkness that you’d expect from a film that brings together an army of antagonists. Deadshot is reduced to a blubbering father and Harley Quinn is regrettably the besotted lover. If you have to watch the film, watch it for the soundtrack. You’ll hear riffs of songs like ‘Seven Nation Army’ and ‘Sympathy for the Devil’. Too bad I have none.

Rating: 2 stars

Rating:   star

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