So I’ve seen Suicide Squad, the latest DC offering, and I was thinking about just what I enjoyed and what I didn’t. I thought there was a fair bit to like about Suicide Squad; not to damn it with faint praise, but I didn’t come out of the film with my mind blown. Having said that, neither did I regret the cost of admission. I have to say that this is the default state with me at the moment, I’m much more picky or demanding than I used to be about films, and it takes a lot more for me to be wowed. I guess that’s what happens, the more films you see, and it isn’t necessarily a reflection on the film itself.
One thing which deserves mentioning: DC are under a lot of pressure right now, and it’s having the effect that, if their movies aren’t instant classics, they’re immediately trashed by many fans and critics alike. To me, this is unfair, but I understand that they feel the need to ‘catch up’ to Marvel, and the resonance this has with many when watching the films; still, I’d say that if DC could forget this need and just focus purely on film-making, they’d probably do a better job.
In any case, here are a few thoughts I had. I’ve tried to but the dislikes first, generally speaking, and the likes after that, but sometimes these things get mixed up.
The Rating: Suicide Squad is about some nasty characters, so why not go all out and make it an 18 film? The answer, as it is for so many things, is probably money, i.e. more people can see it if it’s PG-13, but for me, if we’d had a Joker carving people up, a Killer Croc who we see actually killing someone (not just dragging them into the water), or some of the more crazy things Harley has done, it’d feel truer to the characters. Not gore for the sake of gore, but if you’re going dark Joker, then don’t go in half-assed.
Trailer Fatigue: I actively avoided watching too many trailers for the film, and still felt like I’d seen too much before I went in. Again, it’s probably a money thing (trailers must get bums in seats; once the bums are there, the money has already been spent), and it’s not a problem unique to this movie, but it is annoying.
Similarly, but distinctly, I hate it when things appear in the trailer which aren’t in the film. There was a fair bit of that for Suicide Squad, especially Joker moments.
The Villain: Having a villain who’s intertwined with a human is a nice idea, and Cara Delevingne does a good job with the script she’s given, but the whole ‘I’m going to kill all the humans’ idea is a little done. I’m also not a fan of magic in comic book films, because it doesn’t feel like it fits, and too often is just lazy writing. In a movie where villains are the good guys, their enemy needs to be some kind of evil that you really hate, and I just didn’t feel much either way about the Enchantress. Not a compelling character.
I did like the idea that Waller’s attempt to control the Enchantress bites her in the ass (a theme also seen with the first Harley Quinn escape). Side note: I’d have had Doctor Moon stay dead, too, but it’s not a big issue.
Too Much Sugar: Having the Squad bond and all become like family by the end of one mission seemed a little too sickly sweet for me. I understand these people are supposed to be anti-heroes, bad but likeable, united by their common bond of a shared shitty situation, but in the end it’s all a bit too sweet. Diablo’s noble sacrifice also felt tacky to me.
Ensemble Cast: the large cast worked for some, and for others it just didn’t feel like we got much of them at all. It’s hard to pull off balance in a movie like this, but less Flag would have been good, in favour of more for Katana, Croc, Diablo, and even Boomerang. I don’t feel like I know them all that well, so it’s hard to care about them. Oh, and it was obvious when Slipknot was brought in that his purpose would be to die to show the bombs are real. He didn’t even get a backstory.
Bats! I loved seeing Batman in this film, and the cameo for The Flash was cool too. It looks like Batman has moved on from his murdering phase in BvS, and is back to being the non-killing hero we know and love. This is great, and I think a nice development for him. The movie isn’t about him, but you know me: the more Batman, the better.
The Action: I found the action to be solid enough. Having former-human-now-weird-slave-things for the Squad to kill removed a bit of the moral trouble that having them kill ‘real’ people would have (although the movie never even addresses whether the former people could be saved, in favour of smashing them to pieces), and the action in fighting them is solid. Not amazing, but there are some good parts. I did like the weird black mess left by Enchantress’ brother and his go-go-gadget arms.
Deadshot: I was a bit surprised when they cast Will Smith, mostly because he doesn’t usually play stone-cold killers, but I thought he did well with the character. He gets a lot of screen time, and despite not being a favourite DC character of mine, I found his actions throughout the movie made sense and worked within the story. The Deadshot from the Arrow TV show is a lot harder to like, and I can see why they didn’t go that way with him.
Harley Quinn: Really very pleased with Robbie’s performance as Harley Quinn. She captured the playfulness of the character well, as well as, of course, the unhinged-ness. Harley is funny, and brings levity to otherwise heavy situations. The jokes went down well, but you also saw that she hides intelligence beneath the crazy exterior, and people will often underestimate her. A really good first live-action performance.
The Joker: Well, following Ledger was always going to be difficult, and Leto certainly put his own mark on the character, which is exactly what was needed. I read that a lot of his scenes were cut, which disappointed me; even though it’s not a Joker film, he was a big selling point. So, I’d be very interested to see more of him. I liked what he did, getting that unpredictable, freaky, ruthless Joker down pat. Different again to Ledger, and I wouldn’t say better, but a really good job.
The Plot: Having the Squad rescue Waller from a problem of her own making, as I touched on above, was good. I think that the team just needed a common enemy, a way to get them started. It’ll be interesting to see what happens next, if they do another film, but I thought the plot was ok, fairly standard. In a film with so many characters, too much complication in the plot would not have helped.
So, overall I thought it wasn’t bad. Not up there with the Dark Knight, but then what is? For the sake of Harley and the Joker alone, it’s worth rewatching, and I’d like to see an extended version with the missing footage. It’s clear that Suicide Squad will not go down as a classic, due to the issues I’ve mentioned, but it was nice to see new characters and a new style of hero, and I was impressed by many of the performances I saw.
Final rating: 6.5 out of 10