Suicide Squad (2016) Film Review by Gareth Rhodes

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Suicide Squad (2016) 


Directed by David Ayer • Written by David Ayer


With Will Smith, Margot Robbie, Jay Hernandez, Viola Davis, Cara Delevigne, Joel Kinnaman and Jared Leto


In terms of roll out, it’s felt like the DC cinematic series has been playing catch-up with those pesky do-gooders over at Marvel for a few too many years. Though it performed well at the box office, the disappointing critical response to Zack Snyder’s Batman Vs Superman didn’t help, causing heated fan division and an underlying lack of confidence for the studio’s slowly unraveling universe of goodies vs baddies, which, brings me neatly to Suicide Squad.

Written in just six weeks by David Ayer, Suicide Squad was DC’s opportunity to gain some genuine traction for its wavering franchise. Everyone knows the bad guys are the most interesting characters in the comic book sphere, so to tell a story in which they all get to run riot sounds like the best idea since ideas began. Or maybe not.

Picking up after the events of Batman Vs Superman, we find the government in a bit of a pickle. They have a problem that can only be solved by bad metahumans doing good things – which is a simplified way of setting up the ‘plot’ for this loud, attention seeking adventure into the all-too familiar.

With a large ensemble cast in tow, David Ayer fails to service most of the characters. What’s worse, is that Jared Leto’s much-anticipated depiction of the Joker is relegated to the role of substitute, showing up for a few scenes (mostly flashbacks) while the main plot lumbers forward in the most achingly predictable way. Meanwhile, half-baked backstories abound, as Ayer overpacks his film with thinly-sketched characters like Katana, Captain Boomerang and Killer Croc.

Thankfully, not everything misfires. With all the best one-liners and eye-catching hot pants, Margot Robbie is all three of crazy-sexy-cool, embracing the role of Harley Quinn to give a performance of great effervescence that temporarily boosts the quality of the overall film each time the camera finds her…even if it’s just for a naughty wink or a sideways glance. It’s no surprise the call is loud for a Harley solo movie.

Sharing the spoils of screen time with Robbie is Will Smith, who is sturdily charismatic as Deadshot, though his back-story is clunky and recycled, robbing the character of enigmatic intrigue. Viola Davis fares better as Amanda Waller, bringing some weight to proceedings as a hard-nosed government agent tasked with keeping the squad in check.

During the film’s promotional tour, Jared Leto spoke in tones of veiled disappointment at the amount of Joker footage left out of the finished film. It’s a shared disappointment, as whenever he and Robbie are allowed to express themselves, the movie wakes up.

Though it pines for cult status, Suicide Squad is like a film for the crowd who thinks Avril Lavigne is genuine punk rock. Margot Robbie captures some vital edge, but she’s marooned in a movie that feels like it’s been made by committee for pre-teens, even though its non-stop soundtrack is peppered with dad-rock anthems. Ironically, a story about an incongruous team of anarchists that plays it safe to the point of tedium.

2.5/5

About garethrhodes

Full-time lover of all things creative.
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21 Responses to Suicide Squad (2016) Film Review by Gareth Rhodes

  1. brettmkane says:

    This could have been the film to pull the DC universe back onto its feet, but only dug its grave even deeper. Too many blatant attempts to be edgy really made this a cringey affair, which is too bad, because I really enjoyed Will Smith and Margot Robbie. I’d like to think the sequel will have better luck, but at this point, it’s hard to have that kind of confidence anymore.

    • garethrhodes says:

      You’re right about the blatant edginess. It’s all so prescribed. I’ve heard some rumours about Mel Gibson directing the sequel. It doesn’t seem like his type of subject matter, but he’s got a great track record behind the megaphone. Thanks for stopping by.

  2. T. Martin says:

    That’s it, huh? We’re some kind of Film Review by Gareth Rhodes? (dodges tomatoes)

  3. Chris Evans says:

    Some good thought as always Gareth! I have to say that I enjoyed SS more than most (perhaps as a guilty pleasure), I’m all too aware of it’s flaws and even David Ayer has more or less admitted that there should have been more focus on Jared Leto’s Joker. I have the blu-ray and haven’t yet checked out the extended cut which apparently features a tiny bit more of Leto’s Joker.

    Will be interesting to hear your thoughts on the equally divisive BvS, another one I enjoyed more than the most – especially the ultimate edition which I feel improves the film quite a bit.

    • garethrhodes says:

      Thank you, my friend. You know, as much it didn’t involve me, I’d give an alternate cut a chance. Margot Robbie was a genuine surprise to me. One of the boldest comic book performances I’ve ever seen, belonging in a much better film. The Joker card has been overplayed, but I enjoyed what little we got to see of Leto. I watched a lot of cast interviews on YouTube while I was researching this review, and the level of disappointment from Leto was very evident. He was polite about it, but definitely pissed off. Margot Robbie said the work they did together was “magic”, struggling to veil her disappointment. The mistake was trying to shoehorn two movies into one. Ayer and co perhaps felt they needed to press forward, rather than spending lots of time on backstory. To me, the end product is a choppy mess.

      • Chris Evans says:

        Totally agree with you on Margot Robbie she was definitely one of the biggest draws of the film (and I’m looking forward to seeing how Gotham City Sirens turns out). I’m hoping Leto will get more of a chance to make his mark as the Joker, in the solo Batman film perhaps.

        You hit the nail on the head in your review though when you talk about DC/Warners playing catch up, it seem smuch of the creative turmoil behind the scenes is arising from the studio rushing and pushing, even butting heads (the Flash film has already lost two directors and now it’s release date). I just hope that they start to come to their senses a little, especially now Matt Reeves has signed on to direct the Batman.

      • garethrhodes says:

        It’s great to hear from someone as informed as yourself, Chris. I wasn’t aware of the Gotham City Sirens, but I’ll be sure to look it up. For me, part of the problem is that Warners have put so much trust in one director. He gets a lot of flack, but I have difficulty with Zack Snyder’s style of film making. I’m not so blind as to be oblivious to his talents, but his films have an unearned sense of the ostentatious that alienates me…and they’ve allowed him to lay all the foundations. Another thing that puzzled me – did you ever see David Ayer’s Sabotage? A truly awful film about a a team of ‘badass’ mercenaries who team up to do good. Basically, the exact same film as Suicide Squad. I don’t see how any studio CEO could watch that film and think Ayer would be a good choice. I guess the point I’m labouring, is that DC/Warners have made poor choices of creatives. I wonder what James Gunn or Matthew Vaughn might have done with similar material??

      • philler211 says:

        David Ayer has his misfires, but he’s also done good work. Yeah, there’s Sabotage, though I’ve yet to see it, but he also did End of Watch, wrote Training Day, and Fury, which was basically about a group of damaged individuals operating a tank in WWII. Honestly, if Suicide Squad had been like that instead of what we got, it would’ve been more interesting. Honestly, I think it’d be more interesting to see how Mel Gibson would handle the sequel if he does it, because while that guy may have his problems, at least he’s more consistent in delivering on quality.

      • garethrhodes says:

        You’re right, though the jury is still out on Ayer, for me. I’ve seen three of his films; End of Watch, Sabotage and Suicide Squad – EOW being easily the best of those three. His work on Training Day was exceptional, but given how emphatically awful Sabotage was, it seemed an odd move to hire him for Suicide Squad. I need to see Fury to form a more rounded opinion of his work. It’s worth noting he had only six weeks to write Suicide Squad. You can see from the finished film how much indecision there is on screen.

        As for Mel Gibson – he be a real coup for DC. Talented guy.

      • Chris Evans says:

        Funny you should mention Sabotage, it was actually your review and a few other similar opinions that have made me avoid it…some bad news for you about Gotham City Sirens then: David Ayer will be directing it! To be fair he did make Fury and I’ve heard that’s pretty good?

        I get what you mean about Zack Snyder, I’m not as irked by him but I think he’s more successful when there’s greater creative control from other talents on the story side of things (I thought Man of Steel was great visually and in terms of it’s story which Christopher Nolan was involved in developing). Warners seem to be correcting that by involving other creative minds and Snyder’s future involvement will no doubt depend on how Justice League is received.

        A Gunn or Vaughn take would’ve certainly been interesting but my fear from the Marvel side of things is that there films have become too jokey to the point of slapstick (a la Doctor Strange). I like a good dash of humour in these films but at times it feels forced and unnatural if you get my meaning?

  4. Natasha says:

    I enjoyed SS more than most. It certainly has its faults though!

    • garethrhodes says:

      Hi Natasha, I’m glad to hear you enjoyed it. I liked Margot Robbie very much. How many times do we see a female getting all the best lines, and being the best character in a male dominated movie?? That alone is worth celebrating.

  5. Matt says:

    I would LOVE to see David Ayer’s cut of the movie. The Extended Version on Blu-Ray is already a slight improvement. But you’re right, it’s generally a mess.

    • garethrhodes says:

      Jared Leto’s annoyance was quite thinly veiled during the promotional tour. He clearly thinks the ‘they’ got it wrong. I feel like I’ve been unfairly harsh on Ayer in my review, but I guess that’s just because of the disappointment felt at seeing such a sub-standard movie.

      • Matt says:

        I think neither Ayer nor Leto wound up wound up with the film that they really wanted to make in the end but I think some of the movie they wanted was left on the cutting room floor.

      • garethrhodes says:

        I think you’re right. Movies are complex things. The more ingredients you pour into the pot, the harder it becomes to find a balance. Suicide Squad ties itself in knots by trying to service too many characters. It’s unsure about what it wants to be. Next time, it needs simplifying. I fear for Avengers: Infinity War and Justice League. These big ensemble films are creaking under a huge weight of seen-it-all-before.

  6. Nice write-up! I was so excited for this one and initially gave it more of an “okay” review, but my opinion has gone done even more since I watched it last year. I’m really worried about Justice League coming up this year, and even a little worried about Wonder Woman. It feels like DC’s whole cinematic universe has been too rushed, even though they have awesome characters to work with.

    • garethrhodes says:

      I still look at the DC movies outside of this current crop, as the best associated with the comics; Donner’s Superman, Nolan’s Batman. I hope Wonder Woman works. The visual look enticing, but it’s yet another dingy-looking DC movie. Thank you for reading.

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