The wait has finally ended for most of us. Suicide Squad, the latest offering from the DC Extended Universe has finally been released after months of speculation, set visits, cast interviews, stories, rumors and reshoots, and in the last few days an absolute drubbing from critics, an explosively misguided but passionate response from the fans, and potential revelations about just how much trouble WB could have made for this movie to finally get finished.
Let's get the obvious stuff out of the way: It's GOOD. Not very good or great, but GOOD. While I can understand why some people won't like it and could also consider it somewhat disappointing, it didn't disappoint me and before seeing the movie I consider any of the reviews that called it worse than the Fantastic Four movies absolutely ridiculous. I was right. This movie is NOT bad in the slightest and the critics couldn't be more wrong in their scathing assessments of this movie in my opinion.
That being said, I wasn't blown away with it either like I was with Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice back in March. I'll fully admit that part of that is because I was far more excited for that movie than I was Suicide Squad because I am a huge Batman fan. Nothing against The Joker or any of the characters in Suicide Squad at all, but I had my nerdgasm in IMAX 3D already this year for a DCEU movie.
The rest of why I wasn't blown away with Suicide Squad is because without giving any spoilers away, it felt like the movie took a while to get going. The approach they took in the first act as far as the setup and introduction of everyone was not what I expected and it felt like it took until about halfway through the second act before it really started to roll. All of that is understandable though to a point because you have one movie introducing several new characters, all villains complete with backstories and character motivations and it can become very difficult to balance all of that in two hours. The movie does the best that it can though, given the circumstances. The third act is REALLY good and is where the movie finally hits its stride with great emotional beats and top notch action sequences.
Before getting into the performances, let me just tell you that this movie is LOADED with easter eggs. I mean, WOW. This movie might just set the record for number of easter eggs in a comic book movie and they cover everything from the original comics to Batman the Animated Series. Half the fun of this movie for a DC fan is finding all of those because they are plentiful and awesome if you know what you are looking for.
Now, onto the cast. It goes without saying that Will Smith as Deadshot, Margot Robbie as Harley Quinn and Jared Leto as The Joker are the standouts. Smith brings Floyd Lawton to life in a way that only he can, with strength, presence and vulnerability at the right times. This is truly one of his best roles as an actor and he was fantastic. So was Margot Robbie's Harley Quinn. To see the evolution of her character from a "gun moll" on Batman the Animated Series to being a comic book mainstay character and now a live action character is nothing short of spectacular, and Robbie nails Harley's attitude, mindset and presence so well in this movie. It really is a joy to watch her on screen having fun with it.
As for Jared Leto's Joker, he stole the show with every scene he was in. However, I will be honest and say that I can't compare him to Heath Ledger or Jack Nicholson because he's not in the movie as much as one would hope for comparison sake. Those actors were the primary villains in their movies and in this one Leto is not, so he doesn't get the attention or screen time to warrant a true comparison of the actors, but when he IS on screen, it's magical. This version of the Joker is literally "The Clown Prince of Crime" and he treats it as his throne to sit on from high while his gang does his murderous bidding. I have to believe this isn't the last we have seen of him and I pray that he is the primary villain of Ben Affleck's solo Batman movie.
Now it's time to talk about my "unsung hero" of this movie: Viola Davis as Amanda Waller. In this case though, the word "hero" is not appropriate for her character. In fact with all of the villains in this movie, she just might be the WORST one. She is cold, calculating, ruthless, brutal, intimidating, intelligent and one of the most powerful characters on screen. There's a "damn" moment in the movie with her that just serves to remind you that almost no one in this entire movie is a good person, with the exception of Joel Kinnaman's Rick Flagg and Karen Fukuhara's Katana. Viola brings "the truth" to her Amanda Waller and it's exactly what I was hoping for.
The rest of the cast is solid in support, particularly Jay Hernandez as Diablo and Jai Courtney as Captain Boomerang. You don't get a whole lot from Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje as Killer Croc, or from Cara Delevingne's Enchantress, but that's the trouble with balancing such a large cast of new characters that have never been introduced in a previous movie before. At the end of the day, it might have been nice to have more from them, but it didn't ruin the movie for me one bit.
Honestly the only thing that kept this movie from being very good with me is the structure of how the plot unfolds in the first half of the movie. While I don't consider it the total mess that so many critics and detractors have called it, I do think it's a little manic in the beginning, but part of me wonders if that wasn't on purpose. One GREAT thing that the DCEU has done so far is adapt the comic book aesthetic visually with its movies, and that is on FULL display with Suicide Squad. This movie feels more like a moving comic book at times than either Man of Steel or Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, and a lot of those easter eggs I was talking about play into that. It's worth noting that once again, as is now standard with the DCEU, the cinematography and set design was on point. Visually striking all the way through.
The biggest takeaway I have from Suicide Squad is that as I was hoping, it's a solid world-building movie for the DCEU. We are not only introduced to a world "after Superman" but also given a glimpse into the world that existed in the DCEU that we hadn't seen yet in Man of Steel or even Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. We saw the underworld of The Joker and his empire, the rise of meta-humans like Diablo and now we are at a point where we have seen just about everything there is to offer in this world, from meta-humans to aliens to magic. The rules of the DCEU have now been set as far as what to expect will show up in it and Suicide Squad helps set this all up in preparation for what we will see with both Wonder Woman, even though it's a period piece, and Justice League.
I can't end this review without talking about the cameo appearances. Somehow they were able to put Ben Affleck's Batman in this movie without him overshadowing anyone else at all. In fact, it was absolutely organic how he fit into it and it was just another example of great world building for the DCEU. Batman is real and he is a part of this world, even outside of his own movies. Affleck, for the time that he has of course, continues to be the definitive on screen Batman right now. Justice League and that solo Batman movie can't come fast enough.
There is another cameo related to one of the villains that you may have heard of, but I won't spoil it here because frankly even though I knew about it beforehand, I was still STUNNED at just how it was executed in that we saw WAY more of this character than I thought we would see just yet. Just another one of those awesome easter eggs.
The bottom line is that Suicide Squad is most certainly a welcome and worthy addition to the DCEU, even if it's the third best movie in the franchise right now in my opinion. I accept the fact that that may change after more viewings of it though, and I think it definitely warrants at least a second viewing for me to really take more of the movie in. Longtime fans of the comic will love the easter eggs and references for sure, and there's certainly enough humor and fun in this movie for everyone to enjoy without calling the movie too dark. This is without question the most "fun" movie in the DCEU right now.
Oh, and just so you know......stay for the credits because there is a scene and if you are a fan of where these movies are headed, you will LOVE IT. That is all.