This is a relatively spoiler-free review.
The DC Universe has had a whole 5-6 hours to exist, but apparently it was time for the second-stringers already. I’ll get the good stuff out of the way first. I wasn’t particularly excited when I heard Will Smith was going to play Deadshot (a character done perfectly on DC’s TV shows) but on seeing Suicide Squad, he was one of the better developed Squad members, with the most screen-time. No doubt because his paycheck was the biggest.
He brings a bit of heart to what could easily have been a one-dimensional “I’m the best hitman of all time” cardboard cutout. He’s helped by the fact that you get a look at Deadshot’s family background and see a little of why he does what he does (shoot lots of people for a lot of money).
I usually really like Margot Robbie but Harley Quinn onscreen makes me realise why I’m not a fan of the cartoon and comic incarnations. Loud and unfunny, every line is a clunker. Her scenes with the Joker may as well be from another film, as they have no bearing on the task at hand, or make any great contribution to the plot other than as an excuse to shoe-horn in some more Jared Leto.
Joel Kinnaman is an actor I really want to like and although he puts in a decent performance, his lines are all variations on “If you try to escape, I will shoot you or blow your head up.” They at least tried to give him decent motivation for being in charge of the Squad, and mainly he comes out of the film unscathed.
Cara Delevigne as his girlfriend, June Moon, did a passable job too. Her role as Enchantress is a thankless task though. CGI and some funny arm waving are her contribution for most of the film.
Jay Hernandez was great as El Diablo, a reluctant member who doesn’t want to use his God (Satan?) given powers to harm anyone. More of him would have been nice.
Rounding them out are Captain Boomerang. Jai Courtney here, being done a very obvious disservice by editing. His character flip-flops between scenes and in one egregious editing mistake literally runs out of the movie, only to appear in the next shot.
Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje is unrecognisable and unintelligible under a tonne of latex as Killer Croc.
Karen Fukuhara cuts some stuff as Kitana. She doesn’t speak much.
I feel like I’ve forgotten someone. Oh yeah….. Some faceless special forces tag along; led by Clint Eastwood’s son. Slipknot is in here too, played by Adam Beach. Apparently there are deleted scenes describing him as a sex criminal, but I’m sure we’ll find out in some super-duper-ultimate cut on blu-ray.
Obviously the draw for a lot of people is gonna be the new Joker; played by Jared Leto. Is he any good? I dunno. He flounced in and out of the film, sounding a bit to me like a very bad cross between the Mark Hamill and Heath Ledger Jokers, but not as good as either. I can’t really make an informed decision on a few minutes of screen-time. He’s OK. He’s OK with Margot Robbie. His look didn’t annoy me too much. To be honest, I thought his gang were cooler than he was. Maybe he’ll all blow us away in another DCU film but the word is that Deathstroke will be the Big Bad in the solo Batman film, so who really knows? All reports point to Leto being done with the role. I’m not fussed either way, but it’d be nice to see just a little more.
“So,” everyone cries, “is it actually any good?” Well, yes and no. It’s not the unmitigated mess that BvS turned out to be. It is very definitely a film of 2 halves. The first 30 odd minutes are poppy, full of animated stings, character cards and enough licensed music to fill at least one soundtrack. Big songs pop up with alarming regularity, to the point where on second watch, I felt like leaving the screen until the story started proper. Check out the soundtrack if you don’t believe me! There’s a lot of good songs on there but it drove me barmy. It’s like the studio thinks that beating you over the head with classic rock will make you forget you are watching a film in crisis. Supposedly, the film had a very short spell in development and as a result, it’s a bit skimpy on plot, character, and decent villains. Some go-go dancing bird and her giant indestructible brother. That’s your lot!
As per easily found news stories all over the internet, the film is a hodge-podge of 2-3 competing cuts, including one by the company who cut the trailers. The action is mainly muddy, night-time shootouts, where the (literally faceless) minions of the baddies line up to be shot, chopped, batted, and incinerated by our heroes. During the finale, I noticed major players disappearing from site, only to reappear in different angles, when they should still be visible.
In conclusion, what do muddy hard to understand action, undercooked and irritating characters, horrendously unfunny one-liners, and bad editing add up to? An alright film. It’s OK. Passible. I just wish DC/Warner would try a little harder. It’s as ill-defined and poorly conceived as BvS but Goddamn if I didn’t sort’ve, kinda, half enjoy it. Indeed I saw it twice. I had no expectations of greatness, but still I was disappointed.
A thoroughly OK, half-assed job was done on every aspect of the film so I give it a middling score of 5/10. It passed a few hours (twice) but c’mon guys, get your thumbs outta your asses. Give us the classics we know you could crank out if you just put in a little more time and effort.