Warner Bros. was in what I’d call a sticky situation when Suicide Squad premiered. Things appeared even worse when critics trashed the movie on opening weekend, but the box office and fans have disagreed with them ever since. I went to see the film on its pivotal second weekend, contributing to Saturday box office totals. I also went in ready to bash it if the need arose. And unlike most critics out there I don’t think this movie was too bad.
Suicide Squad starts off fast, actually very fast for a superhero blockbuster. Quick, catchy intro sequences for each of the main characters give us the minimum information needed and then its off to battle by the thirty-minute mark. That’s not a bad thing, as you can argue that many superhero films take forever to get to the action and then don’t show enough of it. Squad does the opposite, mixing action scenes with character moments. We see them out in the field more than just sitting around and exposition forever.
The rest of the film is taken up by our lovable baddies, led by Col. Rick Flag (Joel Kinnerman), and Deadshot (Will Smith). Kinnerman gives Flagg what depth the script allows (which isn’t much), but eventually he becomes more open and tolerable as the film wears on. Smith’s performance is excellent, in that he fully embodies the character of a hitman who never misses and that he lets other cast members shine while he’s on screen. Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie) becomes a friend of both the Squad and the audience. Robbie plays the crazy, Joker-obsessed Quinn exactly as we’d wanted: manipulative, easygoing, nutty, maniacal, friendly, and even a little awesome. Same goes for the unfeeling Amanda Waller (Viola Davis), a character who I grew to hate more and more as the film progressed.
Remaining Squad members Killer Croc, Captain Boomerang, El Diablo, Katana, and Slipknot (who we don’t see much of) all give great performances. The best out of these would be Jai Courtney as Boomerang, who’s performance could just remove him from the “actors who need to stop appearing in blockbusters” list.
Of course, the most talked-about part of the film, besides the production nightmares, was Jared Leto as the Joker. Leto’s take on the character reminded me of a creepy mob boss who happens to have pale skin and green hair. He looks the part and at moments sounded believable as the Clown Prince of Crime, but then would go full mob-boss mode and ruin the illusion. He’s not everyone’s cup of tea, to put it nicely. Leto’s scenes with Robbie are excellent, but overall he was overhyped.
The entire cast gives it their all regardless of hype, revealing a major strength of director David Ayer. His weaknesses are easily visible. Plot points don’t get resolved, the editing is choppy in places, flashbacks randomly pop in and out with little to no warning, and the villain alone shows the script was written in six weeks. In fact, Enchantress might be one of the worst comic-book villains I’ve ever seen. Not helping is the sometimes breakneck speed and dark color palettes, although at least everything’s visible. There’s also a painfully long slo-mo shot towards the end that comes off as a pure annoyance instead of a cool scene.
Unbelievably, the atmosphere practically makes up for all the glaring problems. Adding in numerous pop/rock songs, both familiar and unfamiliar, gives the film a needed boost of color mixed in with Steven Price’s excellent score (see the score review for my thoughts on it). Oh, forewarning: you might be humming a few bars leaving the theater. The main titles and character intros have a flashy, neon-filled style reminiscent of the amazing marketing campaign. Ayer knows how to film his action scenes and weave in great performances with believable CGI and large set pieces.
At the end of the day, the best advice I can give anyone going to see this film is to keep an open mind, superhero fan or not. Suicide Squad‘s greatest strength is that it’s a movie about villains from their perspective, where what they’ve done is somewhat justified and where insane people might make a little more sense. Heroes are almost nonexistent but that doesn’t hinder it at all. Squad‘s certainly not a superhero movie classic or what you might call a ‘normal’ movie, but for what it is it’s a fun, crazy romp.
FINAL RATING: 3/5