Well to get to the point, no matter what the critics are saying about this film DC is definitely heading in the right direction. For one thing this movie got me into a theatre instead of relegating it to ‘I’ll catch it on demand’ like I did for “Man of Steel” and “BvS”. Secondly, when I was done watching the movie I wasn’t thinking ‘What the hell did I just watch?’. Rather it felt like I’d go see it again. A lot of my positive reaction had to do with the tone and the characters. Gone were the brooding, heartless monsters (except for Amanda Waller, but then that’s the point of her character) and instead we got people with weird powers in weird situations. In all was a fun summer popcorn film so if you’re looking for that definitely give it a watch. For the spoiler part of this review keep on reading.
So what worked? Being a sucker for comic lore, I did enjoy the backstory flashbacks for our main cast complete with cameos by Batman, Flash and Cyborg. While the film often takes a different tack than the comic books, I really didn’t have any problems with the new directions they took and really they worked for the story the movie was trying to tell. Also, it should be noted that I was a much bigger fan of this Batman than the one we saw in Batman vs Superman. He had a heart in this film what with the lack of branding and negligent homicde. He was the caped crusader we know and love. It definitely gave me hope for future Batman appearances in the DCEU.
I can’t mention Batman without mentioning the Joker. I have to say that despite being one of those people who had my doubts about Leto at first, he definitely made the character his own. All in all I liked his performance and I hope we get to see more of him in coming films, which is likely given how things ended.
Another guy I liked, but we won’t be seeing more of was El Diablo. It’s telling about the DCEU that an ex-gangbanger had more concern about the use of his powers than the Man of Steel. . Having watched the trailers I was expecting El Diablo to get the short end of the stick but he had a some good moments and while his sudden affection for the team comes out of left field the character definitely was a pleasant surprise. Kudos to Jay Hernandez for his work in this role. I’ve never seen him in anything before but I will definitely look for him in the future.
As for the rest of the cast they all turned performances that ranged from good to so-so. Perhaps this was in part because it was a big cast and each character was not given a chance to shine. Undoubtedly it was the big name stars, Will Smith and Margot Robbie, who had the most screen time and although they didn’t disappoint, they didn’t blow me away either. Both of them were solid in their roles, though Will Smith mostly played Will Smith and Margot’s Harley didn’t really break a lot of new ground. Viola Davis was spot on as Waller but didn’t have much to do but glower and threaten, Flagg was sort of one note as was killer Croc and Katana. Given the attention he got in the trailers I’d expected to see more from Jai Courtney’s Captain Boomerang. What we did get was a bit disjointed and fleeting but there were a few moments where he managed to shine.
What didn’t work? A lot to be honest. While I didn’t hate the movie, it could have been better. Cara Delevingne was a so-so villain and Flagg her love interest was incredibly bland. As for her brother, who’s name I am not sure I recall, he was a typical bad guy Dragon, who did his bit and was quickly shuffled off the screen. Also the flow of the movie was choppy with scenes that just seemed to be grafted onto the film without much rhyme or reason (many of them scenes from the trailers) which often pulled me out of the narrative and made me aware I was watching a poorly crafted movie.. The story was weak as well, and it was never clear if the team was just meant to rescue Waller or if their goal was always to take out the Enchantress. For what looked like an ensemble film, much of the ensemble was left unused except as extra bodies on the screen (Slipknot, Boomerang, Croc and Katana specifically). In all the final product did seem to confirm the rumours that the last minute reshoots were made to adjust the tone of the film but, if that was their purpose, they were poorly executed and left things a bit of a mess.
So in the final analysis, I think what DC and Warner Brothers tried to do with “Suicide Squad” is a step in the right direction, by giving us lighter, less depressing fare than their first two DCEU films but the last minute changes meant to make it that way were poorly executed and gave the film it’s choppy feel. My hope though is that the trend of less grimdark films continues (and the trailers for Wonder Woman and preview footage for Justice League certainly suggest that’s the case) but that they are made that way from start to finish. Regardless, as much of a mess as “Suicide Squad” was, as a fan of the source material and someone expecting a fun summer action flick I thought that it was at least a fun mess.