Starring: Will Smith, Margot Robbie, Viola Davis, Jared Leto, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, Cara Delevingne, Jay Hernandez, Jai Courtney, Ike Barinholtz

Director: David Ayer

123 Minutes

It’s difficult to truly justify another superhero film this year. Not necessarily because there have been so many, more that the majority of them have been so utterly dull and joyless. Yet here we go again.

Subsequent to Superman’s death, the government decide to put together a series of criminal lifers (some with superpowers, some not) to work as an undercover military squadron to be called upon in the event of nefarious uber-villains attempting to gain control of the world.

With a carefully selected cast Ayer is plainly trying to inject a bit of much-needed fun back into the genre. Given that the most successful superhero films of the past couple of years have prospered mainly due to not taking themselves too seriously (Guardians of the Galaxy, Ant-Man, Deadpool), this seems a sensible road to take. On the flip side, comedy can be a dangerous path to tread with the fickle Marvel twittersphere only 140 characters from mongering doom.

Suicide Squad starts off well; the garish effects and flicking text give a wonderful comic book ambiance, throwing fun from the screen yet packing a vicious punch of malice. Although a little lineally formulaic, the initial character introductions are augmented with stylisations resembling Sin City or even Natural Born Killers, a crazed neon visual feast of a Tim Burton late night Kebab shop. The music too is initially used excellently, eclectic snippets of a range of styles suiting the characters perfectly. It’s disappointing then, that as the film progresses this style dissipates quickly, feeling increasingly like a big studio superhero-by-numbers piece.

The main issue with Suicide Squad is the lack of a big enough baddie and the anticipated evil plot. Enchantress (Delevingne) is scary enough but her global-takeover plans are never really explained properly and generally feel a bit nutty. Given she is about to destroy the world with her inexplicably ghoulish death machine, not enough screen time is given to her monstrous air to provide any particular level of fear for our socially corrupted heroes.

Leto’s Joker is more gangster than comic psychopath and at times resembles Marilyn Manson playing the protégé of Ronnie Kray. Smith doesn’t get the volume of quips he deserves, surprising given that Deadshot is a perfect fit for his quick-witted, noir-sarcasm. Robbie seems to be having the most fun from the cast, her crazed Joker doll never loses its fizz throughout. Boomerang (Courtney) and Killer Croc (Akinnuoye-Agbaje) are both almost invisible and potentially only there to set up future storylines while Davis puts in a fine shift as the brutal, emotionless Amanda Waller and feels more evil and ruthless than Enchantress and her army of bubble headed minions.

During a summer of disappointing blockbuster flops, Suicide Squad does enough to stand a little taller than its siblings. It eventually runs out of fun and the plot is found wanting, but the characters seem to have enough interesting aspects to keep the franchise going, albeit with the prerequisite of a better script.

7 / 10