Before you even start, I’ll go ahead and tell you that you should definitely see this movie. Before you do though, please put away your MCU goggles that people want to watch the DCEU movies through. This movie isn’t DC’s Guardians of the Galaxy and, it shouldn’t have been. At its core, this is a film about murderers and criminals who are being forced/tricked into saving the day by a fairly evil and very badass Amanda Waller. Oh yeah…Viola Davis nails it!
*This review will be relatively spoiler free. I won’t write about anything that you can’t find in the trailers or reveal anything that would ruin a pivotal moment for you.*
First of all, I know that many of you guys are concerned about Jared Leto’s portrayal of The Joker. After a brilliant job by the late Heath Ledger, that’s completely understandable. In short, don’t be concerned. Leto’s version is a very different take on the Clown Prince of Crime and I loved it. While I marveled at Ledger’s performance, I was actually unnerved (read: scared) by Leto’s performance. He brings an unpredictability and psychosis to the character that, in my opinion, has been missing in previous cinematic iterations. He rules with a psychotic rage that would actually scare people of any city. It’s quite brilliant and reminiscent of “Joker” by Brian Azzarello with possibly a touch of Alan Moore’s version in “The Killing Joke”.
When it comes to performances in this film, I can’t neglect how amazing Margot Robbie was as Harley Quinn. You can tell that she took the time to really research and embody the character. We’ve never seen Dr. Quinzel in a movie before and Robbie has officially set the bar at an incredibly high level. I really hope that the rumors surrounding a solo(ish) film for the character is in the works. After seeing the film, you’ll know why.
When it comes to the actual story, I can’t fault the pace. When you introduce as many new characters to the world as Suicide Squad did, you have to spend some time exploring that. In the animated movies that are marketed to comic fans, you can gloss over backstories as we all know them. When it comes to a major blockbuster, you have to give us a reason to care and David Ayer does a good job of introducing us all to the band of violent misfits. What do you expect though out of the man that gave us Street Kings?
There were some small cameos from some DC characters including a very awesome reveal that made me fanboy hardcore for a few minutes. I won’t tell you who it is but know that you will be excited. It helped put one of my biggest Justice League doubts to rest.
If you’ve watched the trailer, you already knew that you could expect to see Batfleck in Suicide Squad. It would be weird if he wasn’t though given that four of the characters are almost exclusively Batman villains. I’m happy to note that you do get to see a little of that turn that he eludes to in the final scene of Dawn of Justice when he says, “I failed him in life. I will not fail him in death.” I’m not saying that he has ‘the one rule’ of Nolan’s Batman but he seems a little less morally bankrupt. *There are zero Martha mentions in this film. Thank goodness.*
While the members of Task Force X (Suicide Squad) may have redeeming features, I also must commend the filmmakers for not falling into the total change of heart trope for why they do something noble. It would be too easy to go with something along the lines of “This is our world too” but, they refrained. Ayer stayed true to the characters that he’s created throughout the film and you have to appreciate that.
The jokes aren’t as frequent as the trailer might indicate but they are present. Margot Robbie and Jai Courtney do add some comic relief that you’ll appreciate. Most of the time though, you’ll be too entertained by the characters themselves to worry where the next quip will come from.
One last piece of advice. Do stay through the credits. There is a scene after the movie. If you’re a fan of the Justice League cartoons of the early 2000’s or the comics in general, you’ll love it. If you aren’t, you’ll still really enjoy it. They’re building the foundation of a complicated relationship that should be pretty entertaining over the next few years.