Ever since Superman died, his absence has been felt across the world, not least because of the emergence of meta-humans, that is people who have enhanced abilities that allow them to do extraordinary things - and not all of them are friendly. Thanks to the efforts of the mysterious vigilante Batman (Ben Affleck), many of those less heroic individuals have been caught and incarcerated: he helped to imprison the assassin with the incredible aim Deadshot (Will Smith), for example. But it has been decided by the powers that be that these villains could be useful should they be persuaded to team up and work for them, and Amanda Waller (Viola Davis) has set about assembling them for a major assignment...
Or rather, an assignment dreamt up in a matter of minutes in the writer's room in between them conjuring up cool things for these DC comics characters to do. If ever there was a movie that was all dressed up with nowhere to go it was Suicide Squad, the second effort from 2016 to present the DC universe in cinematic form in the hope that it would strike box office gold in the same way that their great rivals over at Marvel appeared to be carrying off without much difficulty. Certainly, critically this bunch were getting mauled, but both Suicide Squad and Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice made a lot of money, suggesting either the producers were correct in assuming punters would turn out for these, or that you had to spend money to make money.
Make no mistake, these were very expensive, and that paid off when there was a genuine interest among audiences to find out what those budgets had been spent on. Whether the world was clamouring for an Aquaman movie or not, it was going to get one goddamit, and DC might have been on similarly shaky ground when none of these villains who the squad consisted of were household names outside of the one everyone had heard of, Batman's nemesis The Joker. He was played by Jared Leto with typical dedication but little sense, as some kind of tattooed, pasty, green-haired gangsta who had difficulty speaking through his metal grill, and while his on-set antics generated plenty of publicity, the results divided the viewers as to whether he was any good or not.
Fortunately for those who were less than keen Leto had very much a supporting role, but The Joker's other half Harley Quinn wound up the breakout character, overshadowing the boys in Margot Robbie's interpretation. She was not a villainess original to the comic books, but had been concocted for the animated series of the nineteen-nineties, and thanks to her superb realisation there she had quickly become not only a fan favourite but also admitted to Batman's rogues' gallery. Robbie merely had to grin and strike a few poses and she was outshining the rest of the cast, which helped when you began to notice each of them were given a trait to perform and stuck with that from minute one to the end. Not much development, then, though there was a pivotal point in the plot when Deadshot (who says "shit" a lot) was ordered to shoot Harley and the baddies twigged that they had grown into a team who looked out for someone else than themselves individually.
But what was that plot? Obviously Robert Aldrich's sixties megahit The Dirty Dozen had been invoked with its undesirables heading out on a yes, suicide mission (though this was far less ruthless than that work), but coupled with that was yet another twenty-first century movie to invoke John Carpenter as this was essentially Escape from New York with a bunch of anti-heroes rather than a lone wolf. That mission was to stop The Enchantress (Cara Delevingne), a mystical force which had been worshipped as a goddess for millennia, but since forgotten till now, yet that was complicated by her having possessed an archaeologist who the military muscle in the squad Rick Flag (Joel Kinnaman) is in love with her so needs her to be saved while the entity inhabiting her was destroyed. If that sounded complex, it surely didn't play that way, the team simply went in, did their job and got out with complications rather thrown away. But this really wasn't as bad as the naysayers would have it, it was superficially interesting even if shallowness ruled, the actors were not a bad fit to their roles, and if it was scrappy when it should be slick, consider it the stepping stone it patently was. Music by Steven Price, when you can hear it amidst the irritating barrage of oldies.