We had the good fortune to see Suicide Squad at a non-embargoed screening last weekend, and the review has been available on our YouTube channel since (avoid the comments though if you’re trying to avoid spoilers)!
Now that the movie is due to be released this evening, we can go a little more spoiler heavy with our comments, so if you want to stay spoiler free, the video above should be good (nothing in the video that wasn’t already officially confirmed by WB). For those curious about more spoilers….read below (scroll a bit)….
Still here? Okay, so Suicide Squad is getting killed in reviews since the embargo on press screenings was lifted Tuesday and, to be fair, as I said in my review, some of it is justified. The film definitely slows down in the second act after an especially kinetic first act (which makes sense given the recent article regarding behind the scenes drama). As mentioned in the video review, it is very much in the same universe as Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, and the film suffers from some of the same flaws in pacing and in just generally being a less family friendly movie than other comic book movies. (and maybe that’s not so much of a flaw in the film, as it is in trying to make money from the kid demographic).
The best part of Suicide Squad is the actors. Almost uniformly excellent (except for one notable exception), I found myself interested in almost every single one of them. Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie) is the clear standout from the group. Even Paul Dini, creator of Harley Quinn, says she’s pitch perfect, and I don’t disagree. Robbie nails everything we love about the character (even though early scenes including her overly sexualize the character more than we’ve seen before).
Jared Leto as the Joker seems to be causing a bit of division among critics. I come from the camp of genuinely enjoying his performance. Is it Ledger? No, not at all. It’s certainly more cartoon-like in scenes (fans of the Joker/Harley tale Mad Love will have a lot to love here), and in others definitely more subdued and creepy. I enjoyed that because, well, it’s the Joker and you’re not sure what you’re going to get. His look, which caused so much uproar with it’s tattoos, really doesn’t distract in the film itself. It’s never focused on, you don’t see him getting tattoos, nor are they really called out. It’s just part of his appearance. My only sadness about Joker’s role in the film (which is surprisingly longer than I expected) is that we never see direct interaction with Batman. But maybe they’re saving that for the Batman solo movie directed by Ben Affleck.
Affleck’s inclusion in the film is welcome. He’s in three short scenes, but all three are impactful, including one with Will Smith’s Deadshot. As for Will Smith in the film…well, he’s Will Smith. If you like Will Smith, you’ll like him in this film. If you don’t, well…you’re not going to see a different side to him here. His assassin with a heart-of-gold in the film is endearing to the audience (he only seems to actually kill bad people, and he sure loves his daughter), but in the context of this film, it works. Plus, it’s not terribly different from the interpretations we’ve seen of Deadshot in recent years, anyway.
The other biggie in the film is Joel Kinnaman as Rick Flag. I enjoy Kinnaman on screen (I enjoyed him in Robocop, despite not really liking the film). He’s personable and he wears his expressions well, so I think having him one of the leads also provides a human amongst all these larger-than-life personalities. For those hoping Scott Eastwood is Nightwing, or Green Arrow, or ANYBODY, sorry guys…he’s just random soldier guy. I don’t even recall getting his name in the film.
The rest of the cast, including Adewale Akinuoye-Agbaje as Killer Croc and Jay Hernandez as Diablo, are all given moments to shine. Jai Courtney is particular fun as Captain Boomerang, giving me the first performance of his I’ve actually liked. The weak link, sadly, is Cara Delevingne as the Enchantress, who (SPOILERS, even though I warned you already) is the villain of the film. She’s not given any real motivation besides “rule the world” and she’s generally just not very interesting. In a film about villains, having the ACTUAL villain be the least interesting character seemed a poor misstep for the film.
As for the story of the film, it’s relatively uncomplicated. Task Force X is formed as a response to the death of Superman, as a government-controlled agency to send in and disavow, should it be needed, when superpowered beings are needed. No sooner than they’re all introduced (which is in the frenetic first 20-30 minutes of the film which is edited very much like a trailer), they’re sent on a rescue mission in Midway City, where the Enchantress has turned the citizens into mindless creatures. This portion of the film I refer to as the “Resident Evil portion” of the film. The heroes repeatedly have to battle, hit, and shoot hordes of zombie-like creatures, and even the Enchantress’ brother (a secondary main villain) has Tyrant-like mannerisms, including tentacled arms that take down helicopters. It very much had that Resident Evil-vibe, and it’s during this portion of the film that we get the best scenes from many of the cast members, including Smith, who had a scene on top of a car that had the audience at my screening cheering.
The Joker pops in and out of the film, and apparently had more footage left on the cutting room floor. His appearance throughout the film is welcome. He’s in pursuit of finding Quinn, and when he shows up, it’s always memorable. Does it have a key component to further the main plot line? No. But is it fun to see Harley and her puddin’ together? Hell yes.
David Ayer is a confident director, having had multiple solid films under his belt already. He gets the most out of this cast, and though the film (probably due to the editing woes in the article linked above) certainly feels a bit more frantic than his other directorial efforts, I think he does a solid job. The action is well directed, and having seen Jason Bourne just the other day, I appreciate someone pulling the camera back a bit so I can see what the hell is going on.
A standout in the film is the music. There’s so damn much of it, from classic rock (like in the trailers) to modern hits created specifically for the soundtrack, as well as an excellent score by Steven Price. There’s nary a scene in the movie without some kind of music, and it’s all scene appropriate, as well as scene enhancing, like good music should be.
Suicide Squad fits somewhere between Guardians of the Galaxy and Deadpool. It’s more adult than the former, and certainly not as adult as the latter. It’s darker, and it’s humor is dark, but it’s also not quite a film only for adults. It’s that weird kind of film that’s too adult for kids, and not quite adult enough to be a straight up R-rated adults only movie, and for that I think it may have some difficulty finding longevity. I myself enjoyed it quite a bit, but I do think in time it may be one of those films that people refer to as “I actually liked Suicide Squad,” the way they are with Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice.
Is it worth your time? Absolutely. Are you going to have conflicting feelings on it? Also absolutely. But I found it fun, if uneven, but always entertaining. Will it turn around DC’s current bad luck in media with their movies. Well, as early reviews seem to indicate, probably not. But it’s more entertaining than BvS, and I think that’ll help people enjoy it more. It’s not quite the dour film that is, but it’s very much in that universe.
And yes, you see The Flash in the movie. And yes, it’s awesome, if short.
See Suicide Squad on the big screen (3D didn’t add much for me on this one), and try not to think too hard. The solid performances and finally seeing Harley Quinn in live action are the selling points here, and I’m excited to see these characters, hopefully one day, interact with our new Justice League.
For those who like scores, I’d give it a 7.5 out of 10.