This includes some spoilers for Suicide Squad. I have left most of the major plot spoilers out, but if you want to go into the movie completely fresh, and you haven’t seen it yet, wait until you watch the movie to read this review. You have been warned!
I am in the strange position of disagreeing with most of the critical community on this movie. Suicide Squad is currently sitting at 19% from top critics on RottenTomatoes, and I just think that’s unfair to the film. There is a lot of good in this movie, and, yes, some problematic elements, but no where near enough to warrant that kind of contempt. Though, the problematic elements we do see offer some interesting insight into the DCEU at large.
Suicide Squad is a superhero(or villain) ensemble movie, and it suffers from the problems that most superhero ensemble movies before The Avengers suffered from. The cast is unevenly represented, there is too much time spent on build-up, and, as a result, the actual plot of the film feels rushed. Suicide Squad also suffers from a somewhat less common problem. The “villains” of the film are fairly weak, because they aren’t really the villains, so much as they are targets that are used as an excuse to get the Squad to have a common goal. The more traditional antagonist is really Amanda Waller, and she’s great, as we will get to in a moment.
All of that aside, when we do get a good look at these characters, they are presented extremely well (with the exception of Jared Leto’s Joker. More on that later). When making a comic book adaptation, there is a certain value to be gained from giving audiences the sense that they are seeing comic book characters come to life. This movie definitely had that quality. Margot Robbie is almost too good as Harley Quinn. She steals every scene she is in… Unless that scene is with Viola Davis, whose Amanda Waller is compelling and powerful in precisely the way Amanda Waller should be. She is unpredictable and cold at times, but always in control. The rest of the characters (who, by and large, are less well-known to the general movie-going audience) are equally well-cast and do a solid job of bringing their respective characters to life. The one exception to this in the Squad might be Will Smith’s Deadshot, because while he does a fine job of playing Deadshot, he really comes across more as Will Smith than Floyd Lawton. But, when you cast Will Smith in a movie, I think that is probably what you are going for. And he does create a great character, whether or not he is as spot-on in his comic book adaptation as the other Squad members.
So what about The Joker? Well… I’m not a fan. The Joker is a strange character to talk about with regards to adaptations, though, because he changes so much from time to time. He’s a wildcard, and I don’t necessarily feel like Leto’s version is invalid. I just didn’t like it. I didn’t feel like he came across as scary in the way that the Joker tends to traditionally, and I still don’t like the look of this version of the Joker. That said, I think that, perhaps, I need to see him interact with Batman more directly, or maybe just interact with more people at all. Apparently, several Joker scenes were cut from the film, which explains his relatively small role in it and why we seem to be missing so much of that character’s development and motivations. Perhaps, with those additional scenes I would be more sold on this version of the character.
This brings me to something I want to talk about with regards to this movie and the rest of the DCEU. This movie, just like Batman V Superman and Man of Steel, suffers from editing and pacing issues. There are times when scenes seem unnecessary and other times when I’m extremely confused about character motivation. It is no where near as bad as the two previous movies, but it is still a noticeable problem. What does this mean? Well… it may mean that all the blame that was being heaped on Zack Snyder (that I, too, am guilty of) for creating movies with poor editing and plot construction may be misplaced. Snyder didn’t direct Suicide Squad and David Ayers certainly doesn’t have any problem creating a cohesive film, so I am inclined to believe that these weak elements are Warner Bros fault. It’s possible that WB essentially told Snyder and Ayers to cut sections of the film that were less funny or action-packed, because they believed that audiences would respond better to a movie full of action and/or jokes that has some nonsensical plot elements than one with a cohesive plot and a bit less action. I don’t have any real evidence of this, except for the fact that Suicide Squad suffers from these same problems, and most of those problems in Batman V Superman were fixed in the Director’s Cut of the film, where, presumably, Snyder had more control. I kind of hope I’m wrong, because if I’m not, and WB doesn’t wise-up, we are going to be facing these same problems in every DCEU film from here on out, and, eventually, people are just going to stop going to them.
The bottom line here, though, is that Suicide Squad is still the best of the three DC movies we have had come out of this DCEU, and I enjoyed my two hours watching it. I even wouldn’t mind seeing it again. It’s funny, the characters are enjoyable, and it’s cool to see those characters come to life in a big way. Definitely worth a watch, if you are a DC fan or you just want to spend two hours watching something fun. Just don’t expect this film to be as clever or rewarding as we have come to expect from Marvel movies, because it’s not.