If it isn’t obvious, yes, this will contain spoilers.
About an hour before I saw it, I tweeted “About to see Suicide Squad. If BvS was anything to take a pattern from, I’m sure I’ll love this long-form trailer for the Harley Quinn movie.” And at the time, I thought I was joking. But no, as I expected/feared/hoped, Harley Quinn was the best part of the movie by a long shot. Don’t get me wrong, the rest of the cast has its moments, but as a whole, it’s… messy. And you’d think that was what they were going for with their whole “unlikely team of villains” aesthetic, but if it was, it really doesn’t come together well. The pacing of all the individual scenes definitely could use work, since it seemed like a movie and a half at the least was poorly condensed down to one.
Harley Quinn is an excellent character with good development and writing who I actually prefer to Deadpool as my off-kilter jocular mayhem-causing merrymaker. Her jokes always landed, she was a joy to watch, and she made almost every character she interacted with so much better. The recipient of many of those good interactions is Will Smith’s Deadshot, and it was wonderful. They’re a very unmatched pair, but they always had good banter. If/when she ends up with her own movie, he’ll hopefully be a supporting cast member or at least make a cameo. Deadshot seems to be the only person who isn’t afraid of Harley, and Harley is more than happy to be on equal footing with him. The next closest is Diablo, who is a good enough character, but he would have worked better with more in-depth looks at his pacifism and interactions with other teammates. Katana was cool but underutilized, and Boomerang was funny enough, but nowhere near the comic relief Rocket brought in Guardians. Flagg and Enchantress fit in quite well as the plot bombs needed to light fires under our not-hero’s asses, but are otherwise unremarkable. Croc has a few good moments, but is mostly a thinly-veiled joke machine that is used about four times in a 2-hour movie. And as expected, Amanda Waller is perfectly played as the coldest bitch to walk the earth.
The problem with Harley, however, is that to get to her independence, we have to slog through a few storylines about her being in love with a green-haired psycho, which is hopefully mostly contained in this film. Speaking of whom, the Joker was just weird. Leto wasn’t as bad as some people were fearing, but he’s nowhere near the other film portrayals. Plus, he actually showed compassion towards Harley, which is so out of character, it was almost embarrassing. Luckily, he was barely in the movie, which I was okay with until I remembered all those awful headlines about what he sent to his castmates, even though he had no scenes with anyone besides Harley. Like, we get that there’s a helluva legacy to live up to, but obscene and spooky off-screen behaviors aren’t the way to take the crown. Still, I am looking forward to him finally sparring with Batfleck, whenever that happens.
I’m really expecting a Director’s Cut will solve a lot of my issues with the characters, but if it doesn’t, then there’s no excuse for how shoddily cut-together this film is. Characters like Diablo and Katana are given minimal screentime in the first 2 acts but play larger roles in the end than Boomerang or Flagg by a long shot. Diablo’s sudden declaration of familial love for the Squad, so strong that he’s willing to make the ultimate sacrifice, is especially jarring since not 10 minutes before this, Harley is berating him viciously about his family. Hopefully, there’s more interactions between the Squad and plenty of exposition that we just haven’t seen yet. Otherwise, David Ayer needs a textbook on pacing shoved so far down his throat, he shits out a clock.
The best way to describe the film is to imagine that someone saw Guardians of the Galaxy, then described it to someone else, who described that description to someone else, who made a bullet list for David Ayer to follow, which I’ve replicated below.
- Songs? Songs. A lot of songs.
- *IMPORTANT* Jokes.
- Likeable psuedo-leader of the team.
- Team formed in prison.
- Magic, but don’t really explain it in-depth, just have it be a thing?
- Everyone needs character development by the end. Find a way.
- Big muscley green guy who kinda unintentionally makes jokes sometimes?
- Vision of beloved family member by psuedo-leader at pivotal moment in climax of film.
- Did I mention songs?
All in all, I don’t regret seeing it, but I probably won’t watch it again until it comes out on DVD and the like. For a peek at a far superior Suicide Squad movie, check out the trailer for Batman: Assault on Arkham. It features Harley,
Killer Croc King Shark, Captain Boomerang, Deadshot, along with non-live action film addition Killer Frost. It has the added bonus of also being a Batman movie, barely, and a very satisfying ending in relation to Amanda Waller.
5/10 “edgiest hat ever“s.