So I saw Suicide Squad last Friday with a group of four. I was the one who liked it. Sort of.
Look, I hear the criticisms loud and clear, I really do. The RLM guys make an excellent case that the film’s shoddy pacing and patchwork tone is the result of executive meddling. In retrospect, I think they’re right. I just didn’t think it was nearly as apparent as it was in the theatrical version of Batman v. Superman Dawn of Justice. (Yes, I saw the extended cut of Dawn. I agree it’s a much better picture than what we saw in theaters, but its everything-but-the-kitchen-sink ending remained irredeemable in my opinion.)
Suicide Squad is getting almost as much shit as Dawn of Justice. I have no idea why some people seem to think it’s as bad as Dawn. It’s not. Like, at all. I wanted to punch the projector when I saw Dawn. I had a reasonably good time when I saw Squad.
There were things I hated about Suicide Squad, too. Minor spoiler: when Batman shows up to capture Deadshot at the beginning of the movie, Batman hides behind his daughter like a coward so Deadshot won’t shoot. (Never mind it’s already been established that Deadshot can ricochet bullets into his targets’ heads.) I get that this is supposed to be a more reckless Batman than we saw in Nolan’s films, but come on. Would a guy who’s haunted by the fact he saw his parents murdered in an alley show up to potentially murder a guy in front of his daughter in an alley?
Then there’s (another minor spoiler) the way they bring Joker and Harley Quinn together, only to concoct one of the dumbest ways to split them up again mere seconds later. And don’t get me started on the Joker. I liked him more than I thought I would, but, uh… yeah. Jared Leto isn’t one of my favorite people and the reports of his behavior on set make me dislike him as a person more. Why are method actors always such douche bags?
So my least favorite thing about the movie? The studio billed it as this irreverent, Dirty Dozen-esque film about bad guys, but the characters aren’t all that bad. Sure, you don’t want to invite these guys to a dinner party or anything, but Batman probably caused more property damage and murdered more people in Dawn than the entire squad combined. The film plays it way too safe for the bad-to-the-bone image it wishes to project.
Despite everything I didn’t like (such as Diablo’s fiery emoticons or the average Hollywood “humor”) there were aspects I did like. I’m just having a harder time putting them into words. Let’s put it this way: I really liked Swamp Thing movies when I was a kid and something about the hokey monsters in Suicide Squad reminds me of the cheese in those movies. So yeah, a lot of what I liked probably wasn’t intentional, but it was there nonetheless.
Although Harley Quinn and Joker are trying way too hard—way, way too hard—the performances aren’t terrible. Will Smith is effortless at playing Will Smith, which isn’t a complaint because that’s the entire point of Will Smith, and I was surprised to find Joel Kinnaman’s Rick Flagg had a much more substantial role than the trailers would have us believe. In fact, he’s probably my favorite part of the entire movie because instead of being an expendable military stooge, he’s actually the one grounding the group in reality. Katana is another comic book character who makes the transition to the screen surprisingly well. Although I want to see a lot more of her, I’m afraid her own movie would probably sap all the mystique out of her.
Color correction and lighting issues aside, I liked the look of the movie as it’s colorful without going full Shumacher. Joker’s crazed henchmen are awesome, but underused. It’s in all these little superficial moments you catch brief glimpses of the auteur before the corporate side of things fucked everything up.
At this point we should probably consider the theatrical versions as extended trailers of the DCU movies we’ll get on video a few months later. I’m looking forward to seeing the movie David Ayer made. It looks pretty good.