I can’t speak for DC Comics fans, but this movie turned out exactly how I was expecting. While that’s neither good nor bad, there are several elements of David Ayer’s Suicide Squad that make it unique and, at the same time, very much ordinary.
While the flair and pomp was refreshing—a nice, alternative take on spring’s darker Batman v Superman—some parts were under-par. For instance, the entire opening half-hour (maybe it wasn’t quite that long, but it seemed to drag on) was all character introduction. While the neon text and somewhat-flashy intros were hip and comic book-y, there was too much on-screen to digest, and not everyone was intro’d completely—as it would have taken up too much space in what was to be a two-hour run-time—but maybe that will change in a future director’s cut DVD release.
On a positive note, Jared Leto delivered as the Joker in this film, and his portrayal is in contention with Heath Ledger for the best-performed live-action Joker—that right blend of creep and charisma, while still owning his killer façade. For what little screen-time he had—I’d estimate about ten minutes, give or take a few—the Clown Prince of Crime stole the show, and I’m looking forward to seeing him again in future installments.
Speaking of which… I’m glad that the DCCU is finally beginning to coalesce into something with scale and scope, but the three films that have been put out so far—2013’s Man of Steel, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, from early spring, and this film—don’t really have any ground to stand on. I hate to bring Marvel into a DC Comics debate, but…from a professional stand-point, the formula that that production studio has—and has had, since 2008—is building towards an eventuality, and I don’t really feel that the DCCU is heading that same route. There are too many off-shoots and non-integrated stories and timelines, between the CW Network television series and the three major films thus far, to keep track and figure out what goes where. The film universe, itself, has had no real base to build upon. Just like with BvS, the audience was thrown in at the deep-end with Suicide Squad and is expected to tread water through the two hours of its runtime, with little backstory and characters that aren’t really established, outside of their comic books.
When the action in this movie does finally start, it’s an entertaining time, but getting to that point was slow and ate up more than half of the film’s run-time. Between the flashbacks and fan service moments thrown in—a lot of which could have been shortened or all-together-cut for more actual Suicide Squad-ing—I saw an attempt at building towards something bigger, but also the inability to reach that mark. And while the soundtrack was lively, sarcastic, and in keeping with some of the characters it was paired with, it just felt interjected and off, otherwise.
In the future, perhaps beginning with Justice League, DC can find its direction, as a continuing franchise.
Final ‘Risk Assessment: a strong ***/**. Suicide Squad is a fun film, overall, but unfortunately lived up to its bad press.