First off all, let me start by saying that I am a huge comics fan. I have been an avid reader of both DC and Marvel for years now, and I thoroughly enjoy most of their cinematic installments. However, when it comes to Suicide Squad, I have many a mixed feelings to say the least. To give you a bit of a rough idea of what you're getting into, I suggest you hear what went on into giving this movie life.
Warner Brothers had planned Suicide Squad to be the third installment in their DC Extended Universe, their equivalent of the MCU, after Man of Steel and Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice. However, things hit a snag when the studio was hit with highly negative reviews of Batman v. Superman, and made the decision to order numerous reshoots by the same company that had produced the most popular trailer of the film (the second trailer released at the time). Other decisions were made, including the order to change the tone to a much lighter, funnier tone, include pop songs, and cut out a huge chunk of the footage of Jared Leto as the Joker. It was finally released in August of 2016, going up against the controversial Ghostbusters reboot and the third Star Trek film of J.J. Abrams reboot series.
How does the film turn out? Well, for plot standards, what seems like a simple premise turns out to be a very complicated mess. Amanda Waller, the government head of Argus, wants to put together a team of super villains to defend the world in the wake of Superman's death in the previous film. This team includes Harley Quinn, a former psychiatrist named Dr. Harleen Quinzel at Arkham Asylum who turned to villainy after she fell in love with the Joker, Deadshot, aka Floyd Lawton, who happens to be the best marksman/assassin in the world, Killer Croc, aka Waylon Jones, who's a deformed gangster that looks like a man/croc hybrid, El Diablo, a former Los Angeles gang member who turned himself in after he accidentally killed his family, Captain Boomerang, aka Digger Harkness, who is a petty thief with a love of unicorns and an enemy of the Flash, Enchantress, aka Dr. June Moon, who was possessed by an ancient witch, Slipknot, an assassin who uses ropes, Rick Flag, the military handler for the squad, and Katana, Rick Flag's bodyguard who uses a mystic sword. Except for Flag and Katana, everyone has a bomb in their spine to keep them in line. Soon, they find themselves trying to stop the Enchantress from destroying the world, but matters become complicated when the Joker tries to get Harley out.
And that is the primary problem with the film. It's WAY too all over the place. The story ultimately can't decide what it wants to be; at one point it's an 70s one hit wonder song driven action flick in the vein of Guardians of the Galaxy, next its a tragic film where a member of the squad is forced to relive a painful life. If anyone reads the comics, especially during the early days, they've gone up against way crazier threats: dinosaurs, Darkseid, even the Justice League. But that craziness is only in how all over the place the movie is, with a threat who's just as unmemorable as Marvel's villains and a plot that doesn't give the villains enough time to shine. Why bring in the military if you're going to send the Squad in? Why is the mission to rescue Waller when she should have gotten out of there? Why isn't Joker the main bad guy? Why, why, why, why, why? There's too much why's to even ask, so this movie isn't for the plot.
Character development isn't exactly this film's strength either. Only Harley, Deadshot, and El Diablo are given enough of a backstory to understand their sympathies and motivations, while the rest are just there. Even so, there are some improper representations; Harley isn't in this abuse relationship with the Joker, as this controversial moment in comics history is shied away from to turn her and Joker into lovesick puppies instead of a psycho lover who's trapped in an relationship that she can't seem to escape from no matter how hard she tries. Killer Croc isn't this monstrous behemoth that will eat anyone at the sign of trouble, he's just there. I mean, he does nothing except crack a joke or two. Captain Boomerang is a jerk - but he's too much of a jerk to be liked. Katana's just there, Enchantress is as flat as a cardboard box without any of that fun, spunky charm she's known for (in other words, just causing magical chaos for fun), Rick Flag doesn't even get a mention about his father's background and friendship with Waller, and Slipknot's lack of a bio in the opening pins him as the first guy to die. Furthermore, Katana, Harley, and Enchantress are placed in costumes that only the imagination of teenage boys could describe, especially considering that one of them is a model. Need I say more? The only people they did right is Deadshot, Waller, and (mostly) Harley, who fall into what they were made to be.
That being said, I will give kudos to the actors. Margot Robbie just nails Harley Quinn down so much, she's the virtual highlight of the movie. The spunk, the accent, the craziness - it's all there to enjoy as she bashes skulls and giggles at just about everything. Will Smith delivers as Deadshot with just about as much accuracy as the character he's playing, though with a bit of snarkiness to match. Viola Davis presents Waller as this tough, intimidating women who won't take no for an answer, and won't be intimidated by anyone. Even Ben Affleck continues to deliver a stellar performance as Batman in his brief appearances. The only person I have mixed feelings on is Jared Leto as Joker. He's a perfect Joker (though I feel that nobody could top Heath Ledger) for this movie, but he's not in it enough to establish how truly psychotic this iteration is.
It also doesn't help that the editing isn't stellar. The tone shifts drastically from dark/dreary, to ha-ha funny laugh out loud and back again within the period of five minutes. Shots and scenes are all over the place, the editors fell back on that giant vortex in the sky threatening the world again (Ghostbusters anyone?), and the pop songs didn't work. They worked for Guardians of the Galaxy because they were used at the right time and they fit the tone of the movie, but here, they were just stuffed in. I was holding my head in shame when I heard them play Norman Greenbaum's "Spirit in the Sky", which was also in Guardians, and I thought, "A jab at Marvel if ever there was one."
That being said, I don't think this movie is the worst thing ever, regardless of critics or fan's opinions. This is just a big, crazy action flick people can watch to have a little wackiness in their lives. Is it very flawed? Yes. But it's just a movie, not the best, but not the worst. This is just something you can watch for the wildness of it all. And this is the special edition; it addresses most of the flaws the original cut had. It doesn't make it a masterpiece, but just something you can watch when you need something to watch. Just watch it. You might be surprised.