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By Robin-Leigh Chetty 2 August 2016

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Any time you try and put as many iconic characters on the same screen as Suicide Squad tries to do, it becomes a careful balancing act. Their rivals, Marvel, have had plenty of experience with it, with Guardians of the Galaxy (review) and Captain America: Civil War (review) serving as strong evidence of getting the group dynamic right. 

DC, however, is still going through some growing pains, just take a look at Dawn of Justice (review). But Suicide Squad is definitely a step in the right direction for the company as it aims to expand its movie universe. 

Building a team

The premise for the film is quite simple. The arrival of Superman has exacerbated people's fears about meta humans (how DC is classifying superheroes in its films). As such, the government needs to put together a team to handle any would-be threats, and decides to "coerce" a number of convicts with ‘unique’ skill sets to do the job. 

The most important element in all this, however, is writer and director David Ayer's (Fury, End of Watch) task of making a team of villains as cohesive and loveable as their good guy counterparts. Does Suicide Squad achieve this feat?  

A couple issues

Well, yes and no. Firstly, the Suicide Squad team is a little bloated. Characters like Killer Croc (Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje), Katana (Karen Fukuhara) and Slipknot (Adam Beach), are rarely given the necessary screen time or dialogue to leave a lasting impression. The same could be said of the film's antagonist in all this (no, not Batman). The big bad is one that most mainstream moviegoers aren't familiar with, and the threat it serves up does not feel as dire as it really should. 

Much has been made out the new Joker, but, unfortunately, Jared Leto's turn is uncompelling. A far different take to Heath Ledger's supreme performance in The Dark Knight, Leto's version of Mr. J seems less like a worthy adversary to Batman and more a wannabe gangster with terrible taste in jewellery. While Suicide Squad is not solely about the Joker's storyline or performance, we hope he makes a better showing for the Ben Affleck-directed Batman film in a few years time.   

What works

Now for what works. In the recent light of Marvel's strong outings with Deadpool (review) and Civil War, particular their balance of action, comedy and plot, Suicide Squad has the added pressure of proving less sombre and dark in tone than Dawn of Justice. Luckily, Ayer manages to do just that. While it doesn't feature the same level of profane jokes as Deadpool, there is a good amount of humour sprinkled throughout the film to lighten the mood. This is delivered in the most part by Deadshot ( surprisingly convincing bad guy from Will Smith), Harley Quinn (a delicious outing by Margot Robbie) and Captain Boomerang (Jai Courtney carving out a good niche for himself).  

There's also a great deal of action, whether it be close quarters combat, larger group battles or CGI-aided special effects. It does take awhile to get to the action though, with the first half of the film focusing more on how the Squad is wrangled together and behind-the-scenes going ons. 

The opening few acts are not boring though, with Ayer using them for interesting flashbacks to the past of certain Suicide Squad members, Deadshot and Harley Quinn in particular. They're clearly the two most important characters of the Squad, not just because their names feature first on the poster, but as a result of them being introduced to the audience before any other members of the Squad.   

Final verdict

Given the relatively poor critical showing of Dawn of Justice, along with the introduction of new characters in a different kind of comic book movie, Suicide Squad is one of the most highly anticipated films for 2016. 

But although Suicide Squad is still one of the most enjoyable two hours you can spend at the movies in quite some time (on par with the enjoyment factor of Mad Max or the first Avengers), it's simply not as memorable as one would have hoped for.   

Perhaps because of the lack of a convincing antagonist, like in Age of Ultron (review), or too many characters on the screen, but Suicide Squad falls a tad short of the lofty expectations. 

SCORE: 7.5/10

PROS
A new bunch of characters to enjoy; Good balance of action, comedy and plot; Doesn't take itself too seriously.
CONS
Squad two members too many; Joker performance not for everyone; Antagonist not menacing enough.
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