Review: SUICIDE SQUAD (2016) | Casey's Movie Mania | Movie Reviews, Features & Others

Wednesday, 3 August 2016

Review: SUICIDE SQUAD (2016)

Review: SUICIDE SQUAD (2016)

When a powerful entity threatened to destroy the world, a secret government agency led by Amanda Waller (Viola Davis) assembles a team of imprisoned supervillains and send them off on a suicide mission in exchange for leniency. Code-named as Task Force X a.k.a. Suicide Squad, they include former psychiatrist-turned-loony clown Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie), expert marksman Deadshot (Will Smith), Australian criminal Boomerang (Jai Courtney), former gangster-turned-pyrokinetic supervillain El Diablo (Jay Hernandez), reptilian man-creature Killer Croc (Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje) and rope-centric assassin Slipknot (Adam Beach). Amanda also deploys field leader Colonel Rick Flag (Joel Kinnaman) alongside Rick's swordswoman-bodyguard Katana (Karen Fukuhara) to ensure the Suicide Squad is executing their task.

REVIEW: When the DC Extended Universe (DCEU) first launched in 2013, it got off to a shaky start with Zack Snyder's MAN OF STEEL (even though I personally enjoyed the movie very much). Three years later, Snyder tried to raise the stake (both creatively and financially) by introducing the ultimate superhero mash-up in BATMAN v SUPERMAN: DAWN OF JUSTICE. The result was terribly mixed, with less-than-stellar critical responses while the US$250-million blockbuster didn't exactly set the box office on fire like the studio (Warner Bros.) hoped for.

While DCEU seems to have a tough time playing catch-up with the financially successful Marvel Cinematic Universe, hope still prevails in SUICIDE SQUAD. In fact, prior to the screening of this movie, SUICIDE SQUAD has already been greeted with overwhelming responses among fans and netizens. From the unique premise (a motley crew of supervillains saving the world!) to the diverse cast (from Australian-born Margot Robbie to Japanese-American Karen Fukuhara) and exhilarating trailers (including a most-watched preview scored to Queen's "Bohemian Rhapsody"), the marketing team behind the Warner Bros. studio has certainly done a splendid job promoting their latest DCEU movie in SUICIDE SQUAD.

However, it has been a common knowledge for most movie buffs that great marketing campaign and well-received preview doesn't automatically translate into a good movie. And that is partially true for SUICIDE SQUAD. For all the obvious hints in the preview which suggested the movie is going to be a fun-filled adventure, SUICIDE SQUAD doesn't entirely succeed. For starters, the first 15 to 20 minutes that detailed on each major character's backstories are as generic as they get. Not only the opening scene almost kills the would-be zippy momentum of the movie, but also takes the time to get to a proper footing.

David Ayer, whose directing resume is restricted mostly to gritty cop/crime dramas such as HARSH TIMES (2005), END OF WATCH (2012) and SABOTAGE (2014), delivers a serviceable direction that feels like most typical superhero(es) (in this case, supervillains) blockbusters of today's generation. Ayer, who also wrote the screenplay, even setting up his first foray into a comic-book movie territory like a standard-issue ensemble crime drama. Suffice to say, the plot offers nothing new in terms of its narrative approach other than the protagonist(s)-swapping angle happens to be supervillains instead of superheroes for a change.

Clocking a little over two hours long, SUICIDE SQUAD tends to stumble from an inconsistent pace. For instance, there is an unnecessarily overlong scene towards the climactic finale where the Suicide Squad pondering and gathering together for a drink in the bar.

As for the ensemble cast, they sure look promising enough on the surface. But sadly, not all of them leaves a lasting impression to their respective characters. Karen Fukuhara's sword-wielding assassin Katana may look like a cool character, but too bad she is largely relegated to a thankless role. The same goes to Adam Beach as Slipknot, whose minor appearance is almost non-existent. The villain, which is heavily obscured from the preview, is nothing more than your average entity trying to take over the world.

Review: SUICIDE SQUAD (2016)

Now, for the Joker. In 1989, Jack Nicholson nailed the iconic role in Tim Burton's BATMAN. Then in 2008, the late Heath Ledger played the role even better that won him a (posthumous) Oscar-winning performance in Christopher Nolan's THE DARK KNIGHT. Eight years after Ledger's untimely death at the age of 28, Jared Leto -- who won an Oscar for Best Supporting Actor in 2013's DALLAS BUYERS CLUB -- is adequate enough as the new Joker in SUICIDE SQUAD. But for the sake of comparison, Leto's psychotic portrayal as the "Clown Prince of Crime" is no match for Ledger's scarier performance.

The action is a mixed bag, with some of Roman Vasyanov's nighttime cinematography looks murky to appreciate the stunt choreography. Sure, there are plenty of gunfights, explosions and whatnots. But if you're looking for a single memorable set-piece, SUICIDE SQUAD isn't one of those movies that fulfil such expectation.

With all the flaws that addressed in this review, you might be wondering is SUICIDE SQUAD any good? Thankfully, this third DCEU movie does offer a few shades of hope after all.

The soundtrack, ranging from classic (Bee Gees' "I Started A Joke" and Queen's "Bohemian Rhapsody") to contemporary (Twenty One Pilots' "Heathens") does add colour to help enliven the movie.

Margot Robbie's zany performance as Harley Quinn is pitch-perfect while it's nice to see Will Smith still has what it takes to carry a charismatic performance as Floyd Lawton a.k.a. Deadshot. Jai Courtney's devil-may-care performance as Boomerang is surprisingly credible and for once, he isn't the same "franchise killer" who partially responsible for ruining popular franchises including A GOOD DAY TO DIE HARD (2013) and TERMINATOR GENISYS (2015). Joel Kinnaman is perfectly typecast as the no-nonsense military field leader Colonel Rick Flag and Viola Davis' ruthless portrayal as the head of Task Force X operation, Amanda Waller, is engaging. Finally, all three supporting actors including Jay Hernandez, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje and Cara Delevingne provide decent supports with their respective roles as El Diablo, Killer Croc and Enchantress.

While SUICIDE SQUAD isn't a great DCEU team-up blockbuster as it touted to be, this movie remains a reasonably entertaining summer movie as long as you don't place such a high hope. By the way, don't leave your seats yet once the end credits roll. Stick around since there will be a mid-credits teaser hinted for the next DCEU movie.

Although SUICIDE SQUAD isn't as wholly fun and spectacular as the well-marketed preview suggested, this third DCEU blockbuster remains worthwhile for a comic-book movie.

* This review is written courtesy from Warner Bros Malaysia press screening *

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