Sunday 30 October 2016

Suicide Squad by David Ayer

It's been a busy summer and I haven't been able to get to the cinema as much as I would like.  

So I've had to really pick and chose which movies to see, and the first casualty was the usual slew of comic-inspired blockbusters. I missed the new X-Men, for instance.

But the one comic book feature I was not going to miss was Suicide Squad. Because it's the work of David Ayer, who has made a number of films I really admire. 

Check out the ruthless police story End of Watch, the neglected apocalyptic Schwarzenegger thriller Sabotage or, most recently, his magnificent tank war movie Fury.

So I am downcast to report that Suicide Squad is a real dud, a complete disappointment, and I'd advise you avoid it. And David Ayer has to take full responsibility, since he wrote and directed it, based on characters from the DC Comics universe.

The premise of Suicide Squad is essentially The Dirty Dozen with supervillains. Here the various bad-guys-turned-good-guys include Will Smith as Dead Shot, Cara Delevingne (so wasted in Face of an Angel) as the Enchantress, with Margot Robbie as Harley Quinn.  

And a movie where even a sluttily dressed Margot Robbie's eventually becomes tiresome is a genuine failure. But all her character seems to do is pose with a baseball bat and display a perpetual smirk.

Anyway, these troublemakers are freed from prison by government suit Amanda Waller (played by Viola Davis, essentially reprising her role from Black Hat, a vastly superior film) so they can deal with extraordinary threats.

This is where the movie's problems begin — the threat in question is Enchantress herself, who has gone rogue. Before they can deal with her, the squad first has to rescue a mysterious high value asset... who turns out to be Amanda Waller.

In other words, there really is no story. Just a plot which incestuously recycles its own elements. The result is dull and airless. And the fight scenes are just terrible. The squad slogs through ranks of literally faceless villains — lumpy, anonymous monsters. 

And the audience just doesn't care, doesn't care, doesn't care... Or at least, I didn't. I kept falling asleep during the pointless mayhem.

There is a brief moment when it looks like the movie is going to come to life as helicopters plough into towering black clouds of smoke above a city to the strains of ‘Spirit in the Sky’ by Norman Greenbaum. But it fails to ignite. 

Even the film score, by Steven Price, who did great work on Gravity and Fury, didn't appeal.
The only time when the film really finds its feet is when master assassin Will Smith starts talking to his young daughter about sniper ballistics, but that’s a few moments before the end credits roll.

(Image credits: The posters are from Imp Awards where there were no less than 49 on offer. Which called to mind the immortal words of Dashiell Hammett's Sam Spade: "The cheaper the hood, the gaudier the patter.") 


  1. I don't think I've heard anyone offer a good word for this. What a prize turkey. And it seems to be sold purely on Margot Robbie in slutty gear. Like you say, this is a massive step backwards in terms of quality from Ayers, who had been steadily building towards greatness and seemed to grasp it with Fury.

    Oh and apropos of nothing, I've occasionally badgered you in the past about your script editing duties on Casualty. At the risk of badgering you again, I wondered if you'd ever be interested in answering a few questions from me as part of an interview for I'm a member of that site and I'm sure that, if you were up for it, they'd be happy to publish it on the site. I totally understand though if you'd rather you didn't, as I recall you saying it wasn't a great experience for you.

    1. Hey Mark, Sorry about the slow reply... I don't check these comments as often as I should. Could you friend me on Facebook and send me a message? Then we can work out a Casualty interview! Best, Andrew

    2. I just finished reading your Magnificent Seven review and this pops up :) I'm a terrible Luddite and don't use Facebook or Twitter. But if you drop me a line at my email address we could get the ball rolling. Thanks so much!

  2. Though it may not be exactly what fans expected I still love this movie! I am huge comic book nerd and the fact that it was brought to the big screen without being screwed up is amazing! The music is bomb, dialog is hilarious and actors were so well chosen. Two thumbs up for David Ayer!

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    1. The movie was a huge hit, so clearly millions of people loved it!