This review has been brought to you by request. (Thank user An Unforeseen Consequence over on Kotaku for convincing me.) So, on with the review. How was Suicide Squad? The short answer is, I really enjoyed it, but it had some issues. My “back of the box quote” would be this is a “grindhouse comic book film, and if that sounds awesome, it sorta is.” Now on with the details.
I saw the Thursday night 6pm showing at my usual IMAX for my birthday (yay me.) I had a friend with me, it was a fun experience for all. The audience ate it up. I asked the guy next to me, a fellow comic nerd, if he enjoyed it, and he said yes.
From this point on, SPOILER WARNING.
On with the show:
To begin with, this isn’t a Marvel movie, and that’s ok. It doesn’t feel like one, and unlike what some have said, it only feels like a Guardians of the Galaxy knockoff if you only looked at the superficial details. Also, it does use one song from the awesome mix. (“Spirit in the Sky”, for those curious.) Colorful ragtag team of misfits saves day while rocking tunes play. The similarities end there.
It starts off with a slow burn, with Amanda Waller (played perfectly by Viola Davis) proposing the team to the government brass. This is when we get brief backstories for each member of the team, with each accompanied by a different song. Deadshot is the stone cold hitman whose only weakness is his kid. Will Smith knocks this out of the park, I might add. Harley Quinn is the Joker’s crazy and lethal girlfriend and Margot Robbie (Wolf of Wall Street and with Smith in Focus) is great in the role. For those wondering, this is very pre-Mad Love and Poison Ivy Harley. They even do a pretty good adaption of her origin for this movie. Kudos on that. Killer Croc (Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje) is established as a brutish cannibal killer with an unknown condition. Captain Boomerang is a bank robber and total scumbag, who is played decently enough by Jai Courtney (not a fan of his, the only other role I liked him in was a bad guy in Jack Reacher.) El Diablo is surprisingly good, played very sympathetically by Jay Hernandez. He’s an ex gangbanger who feels racked with guilt over a horrible event I don’t want to spoil. Rick Flag has a shared backstory with the Enchantress (who is treated like a nuke by Waller), being the boyfriend of her human host, Dr. June Moon. Joel Kinnaman (from The Killing and the Robocop remake everyone but me seems to hate) does a good enough job with what he’s given. Cara Delavigne as the Enchantress is ok, pretty much being a Gozer the Gozerian knockoff. Kitana is the least fleshed out member (save the redshirt Slipknot played by Adam Beach from Law and Order SVU), but her backstory is sorta cool, with her sword able to trap souls (and it has her husband’s soul in it).
The set up for the team is fun. Their character establishing scenes in Belle Reeve prison are great, especially Deadshot’s.
So far, so good.
The Elephant in the Room
Jared Leto’s Joker. Let’s get this out of the way now. I’m not going to bring in his on-set shenanigans into this. If you want that, read Io9 proper’s stuff on it. That said, how was he?
I really couldn’t say. Why, you ask? Simple, there wasn’t enough of him in the film to really form an opinion on him. It is obvious most of his scenes were cut. The way I could tell is that they introuduce Johnny Frost from the Joker graphic novel and then he just disappears for the rest of the movie with absolutely no mention. In other words, a completely dropped subplot that will hopefully be restored for the home release.
The infamous slap scene reported on set is not in the final cut. Also, the scene where he “offers” Harley to some other gangster is a bluff, he does this because he noticed the guy was a sexist asshat and wanted to get close enough so he and Harley could kill him. So that has been blown out of proportion. That said, in one of the origin flashbacks, he give Harley electroshock (“I’m not gonna kill ya, just hurt ya real bad!”) but he did ask for her consent first, oddly. This is not me supporting or condemning their relationship (It feels like sort of a Manson groupie kind of thing), just giving context.
That said, what I could glean was that they were going for a sort of Charles Manson meets Scarface kinda vibe. Namely it came to mind when he asked Harley, “I don’t want you to die for me, but would you live for me?” Sorta cult leaderesque. Guess that might explain the tattoos, if that was what they were going for (Manson got some fun tats in prison.) I can’t say if it works, though.
Also, Batman was in there briefly. Just the right amount though, I promise. Also, the Flash is there for Captain Boomerang’s backstory.
Now for the Mission
Enchantress doesn’t like the control Waller has over, so she rebels. She summons her brother (apparently his name is Incubus, but it’s never mentioned on screen.) This causes havoc in Midway City, (which includes weird Lovecraftian zombies) so the squad is sent in, with an additional goal of extracting a VIP.
Shenanigans ensue. Great fight scenes, quips, and character beats. Fun friction between Flag and Deadshot. Harley is a treat to watch. She’s a Looney Toon in the middle of a George Romero flick when it comes to the fight scenes.
It’s a treat to watch, pretty much a kind of like a war movie in the middle of a city. The action sequences are shot really well.
Honestly, I don’t want to spoil too much of the minutiae of this part. I will say the final fight was a bit too standard, feeling like a ripoff of the rooftop part of the original Ghostbusters, but without Stay Puft.
There is a mid-credits scene, so stay put for a few minutes after the credits roll.
It’s a fun watch, but it has problems. It has editing issues like Batman V Superman, but it doesn’t detract as much from the end product as you expect. It is nowhere near as bad as the aggregates say it is. I’m sort of shocked. It does have a tone that jumps from melancholy to peppy in 0 to 60, but that sorta works for the property.
It has some comic book references and homages, like a building with Ostrander’s name on it, for example.
The music isn’t as well put together as GotG, but it was done in a different way. Whereas Guardians made it both diagetic (a fancy term for in universe music I picked up in film class) and situational, Squad uses it more to showcase the personalities of each character (for the most part) and is non-diagetic.
All in all, see it.