When the power of beings like Superman have become reality, the question has to be asked ‘what if the next being is not on our side?’ Fearful of such an outcome, a governmental agency sets about setting up a hit squad which could be called upon to tackle super threats. Composed of the worst of the worst, this team of criminals are blackmailed into providing their services, with the promise of clemency if they succeed, and the threat of death if they fail. But when a threat emerges from an unexpected quarter, can they be trusted to fight where no-one else can?
Suicide Squad (2016) – Director: David Ayer
Rating: 15 (UK) / PG-13 (USA)
Running Length: 123 mins
Starring: Will Smith, Margot Robbie, Jared Leto
Genre: Comic Book, Action
Disclaimer: In the UK, Suicide Squad is rated as ’15’ and Is This Movie Suitable does not encourage or endorse anyone under that age from seeing the film. However, in the USA the movie has been rated PG-13 and thus we have decided to review it for the benefit of our American readers.
With DC Comics still chasing the coat tails of the Marvel behemoth, anticipation has been high for Suicide Squad. Billed as a darker, edgier, altogether more fun affair than the dreary Batman vs Superman (for which you can read our review here), plus with plenty of press dedicated to Jared Leto’s intense take on the Joker, Suicide Squad looked promising to pull Warner Brothers and DC out of their mediocre efforts to date. Sadly, the chance has been squandered yet again.
The plot is little more than a vehicle to get the Squad together but even in this, the film struggles to rise above mere spectacle. Most screen time is dedicated to Deadshot and Harley Quinn (Smith and Robbie respectively) and whilst Robbie puts in a sterling effort to keep the whole thing bouncing along with tongue in cheek pizzazz, Smith’s Deadshot misses the mark as the film can never quite work out how ‘bad’ he should be. One moment he’s a protective father, the next he’s throwing out lines about how much he likes killing people. Other characters fade into the background despite showing some promise (El Diablo, played with good clout by Jay Hernandez), whilst others still fill out the role of not one, but two comic relief quippers (Jai Courtney as Boomerang and Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje as Killer Croc). When none of the characters grow throughout the film, nor any of them really bond as a group, the film inevitably descends in a loosely tied collection of moments rather than a coherent story.
Which is really a shame, as on the whole the performances were good. You’ll note that Leto’s Joker has yet to be mentioned which is a case in point. Despite being heavily featured in all advertising material, and despite lighting up the screen with an enthralling madness and intimidating tattooed look, the Joker is barely in the film and is never really put to good use beyond being a motivation for Harley Quinn to play nice. Believable for the obsessive Harley, but the movie bizarrely presents the Joker as genuinely loving her, which means he quickly steps down from ’emotionless manipulative psychopath’ to ‘over protective boyfriend’ – not at all the Joker we were promised, nor anywhere near what the misleading trailers implied!
Unfortunately style is all that is on display here. Suicide Squad suffers from the classic double failing of having too many characters and then never being able to flesh them out in anything other than token trope backgrounds (known as coming down with a case of the ‘X-Men’s’). The ground work dues sorely needed to make the victories and losses actually mean something are never paid, so when the dust settles on the spectacle-laden finale, all Suicide Squad leaves us with is the feeling that these characters deserve better.
IS ‘SUICIDE SQUAD’ SUITABLE FOR CHILDREN?
A female character is strapped to a medical station with a ball gag strapped into her mouth. She says ‘please don’t kill me’ to the male character standing over her, who holds up electro-shock pads and says ‘I’m not gonna kill ya, just hurt ya really really bad’. Contact is then made with her head and she lurches in pain as the voltage coarses through her. The camera cuts away after a few seconds and the character shown later does not appear to have suffered.
Two characters crash a car into a body of water. When another jumps under to grab them the female character appears unconscious but suddenly comes to and lunges forward with a knife. She is then punched hard in the face and knocked out. A plume of blood rises in the water.
El Diablo has the power to control fire. During some CCTV footage he is shown to be surrounded by prisoners in the prison yard who advance on him. He ignites an explosion of fire around him which incinerates them all. Little is seen but they have clearly all been killed.
The character of the Enchantress is consistently scary. Initially she is wrapped in black smoke and has glowing eyes. On being introduced she possess a woman and continues to live inside her throughout the film. She can be ‘summoned’ by the woman whispering ‘Enchantress’ which she is scared to do. When summoned for the first time an extra ‘dark’ hand grabs the woman’s normal hand, and later appearances are equally scary. Again, she is surrounded by dark smoke and speaks in a raspy, echoing voice; she has the ability to teleport into other rooms and terrify the people there. At one point she lunges through a mirror unexpectedly to grab a person’s head and smashes it into a mirror.
The Enchantress’ brother is summoned and stabs a character with a spear. This is quite violent and graphic with injury detail, fear and suffering. The moment last only a few seconds, however several tentacle like ‘spears’ emerge from his body and impales passers-by as he ‘feeds’. This lasts around a minute and the people flee in terror before being stabbed and sucked towards him.
Minions are created to fight by way of taking people to be converted. This appears painful but is not lingered upon. Once converted the minions look like burnt out husks of people with no facial features. The ‘heads’ pulsate as they ‘look’ around and think, once punched or stabbed they explode like charcoal.
A flashback for one character shows that their wife and young children were killed and suffered as a result of their own actions. This causes the character to feel weighed down by guilt and whilst the deaths and suffering are not explicitly shown it will be clear to children that the cause of death would be painful.
One character unexpectedly shoots and murders several incidental characters in cold blood. None of these characters had been introduced as having any personality or identifying features but the sudden and calculating nature of the murder by a human character may cause distress for some.
At the climax of the film there is an explosion which fuses the bodies of many minions into the walls.
CAN I SEE A CLIP?
Suicide Squad is undoubtedly a lot of fun and oozes an assured stylistic charm which has been sorely lacking from past DC efforts, so for that alone it is worth the watch. It is just a shame to watch it squander its excellent premise on too many characters and an unfocused and tiresome plot. In terms of content and suitability for children we would say that, whilst there are many violent and scary scenes, this is no worse than most of the current PG-13 / 12A rated crop out there (indeed, X-Men Apocalypse was arguably more violent). Due to constant bad language and violent scenes, we would recommend that this movie be appropriate for ages 12 and over.
- Violence: 4/5 (beyond that detailed above, also features three instances of women being punched in the face)
- Emotional Distress: 2/5
- Fear Factor: 4/5 (the Enchantress is constantly a scary presence for the first half of the movie and her ‘brother’, when sucking in passers-by will likely scare some kids)
- Sexual Content: 3/5 (Harley Quinn is very sexualised and many characters lust after her. She has a tattoo just above her crotch which says ‘lucky you’. She dresses in revealing clothes throughout and when she changes clothes and reveals underwear in front of a group of soldiers they all stare. However, nothing sexual ever happens with her or any other character)
- Bad Language: 4/5 (no very strong words, but constant mid-level cursing)
- Dialogue: 3/5 (one character threatens to ‘burn your house down with your kids in it’)
- Other Notes: Deals with themes of: plausible deniability, black ops, trusting your enemy, blackmail, emotional obsession and dependency, accepting the consequences of your action, pre-emptive strikes, creating danger by trying to prevent it.