Suicide Squad, the Snyderverse follow-up to March’s Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice has had its share of ups and downs (mostly, downs,) even considering only what happened before its release. From the backlash to the promo shots of Jared Leto’s Joker, to the lukewarm reception of BVS during its (SS’s) shooting, to the re-shoots allegedly ordered because of Deadpool‘s success (and the reactions to the more “lighthearted” trailer,) it’s been a troubled journey bringing DC’s dark antiheroes to the big screen.
Was it worth it? In my opinion, mostly. At its worst, Suicide Squad is a mish-mash of boring exposition, too many characters, failed jokes, and bad CG; but, it’s when the characters transcend their comic book trappings, when the jokes hit, when the CG looks great, that the movie shines. There’s a fresh gem here, but it’s got a lot of crud still attached to it.
Despite the fun premise and the unpredictability it seems to promise, Suicide Squad has a fairly formulaic plot. The premise is set up and characters are introduced, each blissfully quickly in these days of reboots and retreads and far too many origin stories, I might add. The problem is that there are so many characters, that individually it feels that they are passed by too fast, but overall, it plods on. It’s rather like the meta-human/future Justice League member introductions in BVS, though longer in duration (for better and for worse.)
Hope you don’t mind Batman V Superman comparisons. That won’t be the last one.
From there, it’s a simple story of going from location A to B, then from B to C, with a resolution and a not-very-surprising mid-credits scene. Throughout, we’re given flashbacks and “dreamish” sequences, a la BVS, but luckily not quite to the ludicrously jarring effect they had in that film. I’m going to say it: this movie definitely benefited from having Snyder as a producer rather than as the director (as well as different writers.)
Unfortunately, and again, in a film that should move unpredictably due to the nature of its characters, revelations are never surprising and don’t carry much weight in regards to the plot or to the characters themselves. When they aren’t easy to guess at, is when the viewer has been explicitly told information that the characters only discover later.
The characters themselves are fairly interesting and reasonably well acted. Jared Leto’s Joker is somewhat hammy and not as threatening of a presence as I’d like, but that’s honestly a viable version of the Joker we’ve seen before and I can’t really fault him that. It’s acted well enough, but some of his scenes are baffling. There is a flashback scene late in the movie that starts off well and even seems to include a visual homage to the Tim Burton Batmans, in the appearance of Margot Robbie’s character, but it ends in a manner that’s hard to come to terms with realistically. In another scene, he lays down in the middle of an artfully decorated room filled with dozens of carefully placed objects, among them knives and baby clothes, and the only thought I had was “Who would do that, it would have taken forever to set up?”
Honestly though, if there’s a problem it’s that there’s not enough Joker, but his presence in this movie is clearly designed to set up a future film rather than to lend a lot of weight to this one *cough cough Wonder Woman in BVS cough cough.*
Will Smith’s Deadshot is predictably Will Smith; it’s the same basic character he plays in every movie, but he’s likeable as the bad guy who does bad things but still has some morals (duh.) It’s literally, exactly what I thought it would be, but gosh darn it I wouldn’t mind a Deadshot movie, to be perfectly honest.
Margot Robbie as Harley Quinn, though–I was fully prepared to hate her in this film, as I despised everything I’d seen in the trailers. Not only did Robbie turn in a good performance, however, but the character was actually treated with respect (although her relationship with the Joker downplayed the abusive aspects from past depictions.)
There were other characters, too. Lots of them–but this is immediately where they stop being really interesting, which is a problem (but a foreseeable one) for such an ensemble movie. Katana, El Diablo, and Captain Boomerang all come off as racial stereotypes at best, racist at worst. Cara Delevingne’s Enchantress suffers from a voice that tries too hard to be threatening and a style of movement that comes off as odd wiggling rather than the seductiveness it was probably intended to portray. Joel Kinnaman’s Rick Flag was as much of a let’s-get-the-job-done performance as was his character’s M.O. Viola Davis’ Amanda Waller was suitably despicable, but her ruthless third act reveal is neither surprising nor used to much effect.
And speaking of effects *SWEET SEGUE* they were, for the most part, well done. That is, other than the close-ups of the Enchantress’ soldiers, as well as her headdress, which looked phoned in. The rest of the CG, primarily the monster effects and the lightning, looked great, though, perhaps as a reaction to the disappointing effects in the last act of Batman V Superman. The practical effects were quite nice, too, especially the individual character’s looks and costuming.
I do have to point out, however, that this is the second DC movie this year to feature a character that gets its hand cut off and later regrows it–and the third superhero movie this year to do that. What the hell is that about?
In the end, one of the best things I can say is that at least, this movie isn’t forgettable. It’s far too loud and energetic for that–although it would be nice if, at times, the screen was as bright and colorful as the characters were. The soundtrack, while great on paper, comes off kind of cheesy in actual usage, but it’s got some good jams in it.
Suicide Squad hasn’t washed the awful taste of BVS out of my mouth, but it did something that that movie couldn’t–it provided an experience, for all its faults, that I actually enjoyed. After two turds, at least that’s a step in the right direction for the DC Extended Universe.