There's a lot of good in DC Comics' Suicide Squad, their first attempt at matching something on par with Deadpool and Guardians of the Galaxy's tremendous box office smashing greatness. But for all the good, writer/director David Ayer seemingly found a way to balance it with a bit of bad.
First off, every single member has been cast perfectly. The downside is that not all of them get enough screen time. For the ones that do get appropriate time (Deadshot, Harley, and Diablo), they get treated with cliched and typical story arcs. Nothing new or interesting to make them stand out. There's an overabundance of unnecessary flashbacks, and too many useless moments. Someone should've cut the crap, and pare it down. The film is a jumbled patchwork mess. But it kind of works here. Not in a great way, but it does "kind of" work.
...THE COVER UP...
Ayer had the chance to really make a difference and show us what bad guys can do and he fumbles it into something just slightly better than mediocre. Take, for instance, Flag and Deadshot's rivalry. It makes no sense to see Flag continually point out that Deadshot is a murderer/mercenary whereas he is himself a "soldier," while at the same time trying to show that Flag is in awe of Deashot's abilities. It makes no sense to go with the low bar they stuck with. Will Smith's Deadshot is charming and highly skilled, Joel Kinnamen's Flag is a perfect soldier and leader- so why wouldn't they balance it more towards two conflicting point of killers-for-hire growing towards mutual respect. It just isn't handled properly at all. No nuance, no real heft to their relationship.
The same thing goes for many of the characters. Diablo's refusal to participate in the fighting would've been made more apparent if he was under attack as opposed to all the enemies apparently simply running by him. Then have only at the end, have him release all that pent up anger to the end bad guy, yelling something like, "You think you are gods?!? Well, I'm the fucking devil!" And go into raging fire-titan mode. But no, Ayer played it too soft. (I do really like the look of Diablo's "transformation"- it kept in line with his heritage and powers well.)
Because it's needs to be talked about, Harley Quinn and the Joker are next. Leto has indeed created a new and interesting take on the Joker. I think they went a little too far into a Tony "Scarface" Montana look. I mean, while he is the Clown Prince of Crime, they entirely left out the clown part. When he makes Griggs kiss his hand I was totally expecting a water spout to splash out of the ring in the face, or have a flower on his coat do it, but it never happened. Ayer completely left that aspect out. They made him all bling and no sting. His demeanor is wonderfully crafted however. Harley on the other hand is handled pretty damn well. She's crazy and capable and easily the Joker's equal- and by the sounds of it WB will be capitalizing on that fact soon. They probably could've carried the film if they wanted.
Then for the Enchantress, I actually think her essence was captured quite well. She was at times creepy and powerful. Moving in a jittery walk and swaying motion- she exudes a strange dark power. Then at other times she seemed to be an absurd caricature of herself- bright and cartoony. Her role was nicely split between the doctor mortal and the supernatural witch.
As for the rest of the crew, they are all criminally under utilized. Boomerang is hilarious and should've used at least a dozen more of his signature weapons all at once. Katana might've been far cooler if, instead of moping into her soul-absorbing sword, she spoke to it as if lovingly feeding it. Killer Croc might've been better off if he was an even larger CG-ed beast like Colossus in Deadpool, and should've asked to watch the much more appropriate National Geographic channel.
Then there's Amanda Waller. I actually think she's perfect here. She's every bit as unscrupulous and agenda driven as she should be. She exudes a conviction of purpose and drive that should definitely be maintained for any future films.
...DON'T FORGET, WE'RE THE BAD GUYS
Considering the title it should have had a significantly higher death toll. Ayer should've started with twice the number of villains and in the first encounter with Enchantress's soldiers, kill all the non-essentials off in a bloody tough as nails fight. We should've seen how hard they all could fight, but what we got is some small stakes and only really Deadshot showing off. It would've shown us exactly how high the stakes are, and pointed the remaining villains to know that something far more serious is behind all the lies.
We should've seen them truly using their villainous behavior as a force for something good. Unfortunately we don't get that. We just get a bunch of misfits doing some decent stuff. If there's a sequel, Ayer needs an assistant writer and some really dark and questionable decisions put on screen.
Overall Suicide Squad, despite all its problems, is still fun as hell. This felt like a film based off of a rough draft of a script that should've had a couple DC Comics geniuses like Geoff Johns come in and punch up the dialogue and edit down the flashbacks to make a stronger overall film. But as I said, it's still fun as hell. I really hope to see a second one with better writing, cleaner characterization, darker story, more characters, and a much, much higher death toll. It isn't the best of DC's movies, but it's far from the worst and honestly, I really enjoyed it anyways.
And really, I have a feeling this is a rushed cut, and there'll be a better cut for the DVD/Bluray release. The cast is right, the ideas are right- but they've got only the base and the right direction- now they need to find the right writer and director to crank this up to Deadpool levels of amazingness for fans.
Spoiler discussion past the break.
Well, here's a few things I think should've been different.
Number one is the Batman cameos. When Batman encounters Deadshot in the alley with his daughter, he should've also offered to make sure she's taken care of. A small touch that could do wonders for the story.
His after credits sequence was an apt choice. But I'm sure he already had a bunch of that information through the Lex Corp. data hack from Batman v Superman. Regardless, it points to a potential conflict (a possible film!) crossing over between the big guns of the good guys, and the villains all shooting for a common goal while fighting among each other.
Then Boomerang, when they do his flashback, should've tossed a boomerang without looking out the door after his partner and he hears the guy drop but the item wouldn't return. Then when he goes to check it out, have a few of the red blurs, then the sweet Flash cameo. Although I have to wonder, if this takes place after Batman v Superman, but before Justice League, how does Flash have what looks to be the Justice League suit? I could be wrong, but that's what it looked like.
The ending. Seriously? Stop with the fucking happy love story endings. They should have let Doctor Moon die and give Flag a new mission or focus to move on with his life. And I wanted to see the Guard Griggs change the way he treats these guys. We don't see that in the end, he kind of gets forgotten. Hell, maybe he could've joined or left with the Joker's crew in the end.
*Film reviewed with screener tickets