Suicide Squad Review – A step forward for the DCEU
Built upon a strong emotional backbone and ripe with a passionate glee for its source material, David Ayer’s Suicide Squad broke the mould upon its release last night, not only in bringing the first successful all-villain team up to the big screen, but also in providing the best on-screen comic book team-up of any kind, so far, in our opinion. Below you will find our spoiler-heavy review of Suicide Squad.
Where the DCEU opened with the dark and ponderous accomplishment that was Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice, Suicide Squad adopts a wilder, more action-orientated approach. With this comes a flurry of narrative that is honed to deliver a constant barrage of excellent and apt comedy, as well as a stunning story about a team of selfish miscreants who grow to respect and look out for one another. The film is immensely successful at executing this slow build, so that when the moments begin to arrive where the team start to chose each other other their own selfish goals, it doesn’t feel forced, but rather feels entirely natural to the narrative.
Where you might have gone into Suicide Squad knowing little to nothing about characters like Katana and Boomerang, you’ll come out not only with a much clearer picture of who these individuals are, but you’ll now care about their fate. Where other big screen team-ups like The Avengers lack any true chemistry, Ayer’s team of misfits excels and the film leaves the group in a place that makes us very eager indeed to see how they will continue to gel in their next big screen venture.
The only flaw in this film, for us, was Enchantress’ brother. The bulbous zombie-esque creations that the squad fight are suitable enough cannon fodder for the team, and Enchantress herself is just about a strong enough antagonist, due to the emotional sub plot between June Moone and Rick Flag. The Enchantress’ brother, however, comes across as nothing more than a shoddily-designed CGI villain, created only to give the team a large monstrosity to take down. It’s the only part of the film that we would change; the team deserve a better antagonist than he provides and we hope that Ayer (or whomever helms the next film) chooses a stronger villain next time around.
Which brings us to The Joker, who is treated as a side character within this film, but who is present enough to satiate fans enormously, particularly in the interactions between The Joker and Harley. Leto brings a truly formidable horror to the role and we loved every word that came out of his Joker’s mouth. It’s a performance that makes you want to imitate and emulate his phrasings immediately upon exiting the cinema, which is praise in its own right. DC have achieved the seemingly impossible, in creating a Joker that is worthy of following Heath Ledger’s footsteps.
The Joker chases Harley the entire film, in a twisted relationship that very much delivers upon what DC comic fans will expect to see of this infamous duo. Not only are we provided with Dr. Harleen Quinzel, but we’re even treated to a fantasy scene of Harley’s, in which the Joker has chosen to marry her and they have two children together.
All of this is aided by the fact that it is Margot Robbie who shines the brightest in this film, in her performance as Harley Quinn. It’s a character that fans have waited years to see envisioned on the big screen and DC have pulled it off perfectly, right down to her frequent use of the affectionate “puddin” when referring to The Joker, as well as placing her in her classic jester outfit at one point. Harley’s lines are written to perfection and you’ll find many satisfying phrases and nuances of hers in the film that were not in the trailer.
Where Ayer makes his smartest choice is in presenting the team in an emotional light. We see Deadshot’s turmoil over appearing good in the eyes of his daughter, we see Katana breaking down while talking to the spirit of her dead husband, we see Diablo’s sad backstory and more. One of the best scenes is when the squad all sit down in a bar and simple open a dialogue. From there, the emotional content flows, creating a level of depth rarely seen in any ensemble as large as this.
The heaviest focus (apart from Harley) is on Deadshot and Will Smith does a great job in creating a borderline villain (he doesn’t kill women and children) that you can empathise with. Conversely, Viola Davis is effective in creating an Amanda Waller who is closer to a true villain that any of the squad members themselves.
Musically, the film borrows from an impressive array of bold and lively tracks, perhaps leaning a little too heavy on these sometimes (which borders on gimmicky), but which most often feel like exactly the right choice for the scenes in question. Equally, the cinematography retains the dark hues of Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice, whilst also providing bright and colourful visuals (even if some of these are gimmicky Scott Pilgrim Versus the World-esque character introductions).
When it comes to building the larger DCEU, this is the point where it feels like DC’s universe is truly beginning to come together and merge. This is aided by cameos from Batman (who is in this more than you might expect) and The Flash, as well as a mid-credits scene which nicely reveals how Batman found the information that he needs in order to hunt down the future Justice League members.
Suicide Squad is a bright, bold and thoroughly impressive ensemble piece that marks a remarkable new step forward for both the DCEU and comic book films in general. While one of the villains lacks a little in substance, the squad itself more than makes up for this. It’s a wonderfully realised and beautifully layered collection of characters that leaves you dying for future outings, particularly leaving you wanting more from The Joker and Harley. See it, then go and see it again. It’s the kind of film that DC fans will want to re-watch endlessly and we’re already planning our second viewing.
Image credits: DC, Warner Bros.