I won’t bury the lede: I liked this movie. But, like all three of DC’s movies, Suicide Squad seemed to be a collection of great scenes mashed into a serviceable plot. I’ll start with things I liked. And there will be spoilers.
Batman Doing Batman Things
Since 1989, Cinematic Batman is one who kills. Most of that deals with the need for a movie to blow stuff up and the coolest way possible. Michael Keaton’s Batman killed some of Joker’s goons in the factory. I’m pretty sure Val Kilmer killed some folks in the car chase. Ditto George Clooney. I’m trying to remember if Christian Bale did or not. Ben Affleck in Batman v Superman definitely did. But in Suicide Squad, Batman doesn’t kill. In fact, in a flashback, we see him rescue Harley Quinn after the Joker drove his car into the water. Batman, complete with Rebreather (!), dives in a saves Harley. That’s Batman. He even saves the criminals
Also, the visuals of Batman coming down from above to capture Deadshot? Loved it.
All in all, Batman/Bruce Wayne in Suicide Squad was pretty darn good. Ironic considering so many reviled against his casting. Just goes to show you that you shouldn’t make an opinion until you’ve seen the movie.
I loved the early scene when Amada Waller (Viola Davis) introduces all the main characters. We get nice, short, bite-sized origins and background…and that’s all we need. Period. We didn’t need an entire movie to describe Deadshot or Boomerang. Well, Deadshot maybe, but still, we get what we need and then we move on. And it was presented like splash pages in a comic book. Loved it.
People make jokes that are situational jokes. I laughed. The other members of the audience laughed. That’s what is supposed to happen in movies of this kind. We’re supposed to have a good time. BvS had, what, two jokes, one of which was in the trailer.
Finally, we have a villain that has magical powers. Not quite sure what they were, exactly, but I loved it.
The man oozes charisma from his pores. I haven’t watched everything he’s done, but in terms of being a likable movie star, he’s great. I like portrayals of heroes who are badasses but have the one humanizing flaw. Plus, he’s funny. And the ending where he has to make the choice he does? Nicely done.
Up until now, with me not being a player of any of the Batman video games, Harley Quinn was Joker’s sidekick from Batman: The Animated Series as voiced by Arleen Sorkin. Also up until Suicide Squad, Margot Robbie was best known as Jane from The Legend of Tarzan. But she inhabits the role of Harley. She played crazy, sane, and sad very well. The backstory wasn’t as good as it could have been, but hey. It’s a first-time live-action version. I’ll settle. Plus, in the flashback, you get a live action shot of one of the famous Joker/Herley images.
Wow. To be one of the best villains the cinematic DC has put on screen and not be a supervillain is a real treat. Davis knocked it out of the park. But, at the end, during the mid-credits sequence, I liked that she was a little off her game. Nicely done. And then at the end, what she does? Pretty dang surprising.
Characters That Weren’t Batman or Superman
Finally, we get some DC characters that isn’t the big two and their associated supporting cast. Captain Boomerang is in a real, live movie. Let that sink into your brain. And Diablo. And Deadshot. Did you think we’d ever get characters like that in a movie? Me, neither. Loved that.
I’m a comic reader, but know little of him, so the movie version is my first real taste of this character. I liked him quite a bit. I’m guessing his powers came from the same source as Enchantress’s brother?
THINGS I DIDN'T LIKE
They weren’t recruited for THIS job
In the trailers, you get the impression that the big villain was so bad that the squad needed to be formed to defeat that villain. Not the only case. Waller tries to get the team together and fails. Only when Enchantress goes rogue does the team come back and get the gig. I would’ve liked it better if Waller came with the Task Force X idea as a result of Enchantress versus a take two.
Why was she in the movie? Don’t get me wrong. I loved her look at lot, I liked that she wasn’t a bad guy, and her slim backstory was somewhat good. But you take her out and, say, give Boomerang the moves she made, it would be just fine. And it would have given him more to do.
What was she really doing in Midway City? It would be one thing if she was, say, channeling in inner earth core to assemble a thing that would make all human subservient. But it looked like she was trying to kill everyone. I could have sworn that she liked it when the humans worshipped her and her brother. Then why kill everyone? So her big plan and the plan to stay in one place was baffling.
THING I BOTH LIKED AND DISLIKED
There were 19 years between Jack Nicholson’s Joker and Heath Ledger’s. That’s a generation. Time enough to let Jack’s version fade into history. Not so Ledger’s. Only eight years ago this summer, Ledger’s take on the Joker was playing on the screens. You can help but compare.
And Jared Leto’s version suffers in comparison.
I really liked Joker as a mobster. It reminded me of Joker by Brian Azzarello from 2008 when Joker wasn’t the Joker as we know him. Heck, Ledger’s Joker is more down-to-earth, but he’s still master of all he surveys. And Ledger’s Joker commands the screen when he’s on it. He sucks you in with his vocal delivery, his cadence, and his unpredictability. He made you watch.
Leto’s Joker, in the trailers, looked like a fiendish man who would do despicable things for the mere thrill of it. He looked scary, and if the cinematic DC is known for anything, it’s making comic book things “real” and “scary.” But he wasn’t. In fact, strangely enough, Joker is a romantic lead. The only thing he seems to be after is to get Harley out of Arkham Asylum.
And that’s perfectly okay. Heck, it’s a fresh take on Joker. But that’s not the impression the trailers gave. Perhaps Joker should have been held back a little in the marketing to be present as this lovelorn man. Needless to say, I was expecting one Joker, but got another. Again, the more I think on it, romantic Joker is one I’d like to see more of, and I hope we get to in later films.
All in all, a fun two hours. I enjoyed the film, but I wanted to love it. To date, my favorite comic book film of the year is Captain America: Civil War.