It's disappointingly fine
Ahhhhh the classic "how do you review this" dilemma. How do you review a film when it can be summed up in two classic words: it's fine. Ultimately, anything I say about Suicide Squad can be summed up with those two words. But that's not what we were expecting, right? After that first trailer with "Bohemian Rhapsody" underneath it, which I enjoyed so much it actually inspired me to create a new category in my end-of-year review highlighting some of the best trailers, (Which you can revisit here) I was excited that we were finally going to get the DC film we deserved. Personally, I love the Suicide Squad: I love the concept, and the actors they cast to play the Suicide Squad (besides Jai Courtney) were all great selections. Even Adewale Akinnouye-Agbaje manages to earn my "best unrecognizable performance of 2016" as Killer Croc, beating out two superstars in Oscar Isaac and Idris Elba. And that's not to mention Margot Robbie, who KILLS IT as Harley Quinn, quickly creating a new timeless superstar synonymous with a character. Fox has Hugh Jackman, Disney has Robert Downey Jr., and now Warner Brothers has Margot Robbie. They've definitely struck gold here. So where did this film go wrong?
Let's start with the classic trope I have against DC Films, which again rears its ugly head here: the tone. Once again, the tone to this film is far too dreary, with most of it occurring (of course) at night and, just overall not being as fun as it should be. Hey, Warner Brothers, did you see Guardians of the Galaxy? That's how you can do a fun comic book film with a cast of misfits. And hey, when the final action sequence occurs, is it shot in the day or at night? During the day! SERIOUSLY WARNER BROTHERS. I get Zack Snyder shoots all his films at night, but this is really starting to bother me. I like to see what's going on. Either shoot during the day, or figure out how to improve your lighting because it's been atrocious ever since Man of Steel. Go watch The Dark Knight again! That final big action sequence is shot at night, but at least there they have some decent lighting I mean come on. Next up is the music. Look. I love pop culture selections in my movies. It's one of favorite things about Martin Scorsese. But here.....it's as if someone in corporate was like "the kids love dat music, so let's give them a 50 song soundtrack!" Seriously the movie opens and with the first 15 minutes we are treated to about 10 different song selections. It's overwhelming, and it made me do something I never thought I'd do during a film: tune out the music. But overall, my biggest fault with this film is just that it's not as much fun as it should be. It should've been easy to make this film as good, if not better, than Guardians of the Galaxy. But the pacing is all over the place and the tone (both literally and figuratively) is just too dark. Hopefully they'll get this right with Wonder Woman, because my patience is really starting to wear thin with DC films.
That aside, there are some improvements made here. Most notably, with the cinematography. The cinematography with Batman V. Superman was ATROCIOUS. We're talking laughably bad. But the exchange of shaky cam for slow-motion, while going from one cliche to another, is a welcome one. Though I am absolutely damning with feint praise here. Additionally, you have Margot Robbie. I know I said it earlier, but let me say it again: Margot Robbie CARRIES this film. She picks it up with her bare hands and does EVERYTHING she can to make it better. The rest of the cast is good, (I actually very much enjoyed Will Smith as Deadshot) besides Jai Courtney, but it's Robbie who's the star here. I hope we get a big-budget Harley Quinn movie at some point.
Finally, you may have noticed there's one thing I haven't really addressed at all here, even though I thought going into this film it would be the thing I talked about the most: The Joker. For those who don't know, I believe Heath Ledger's Joker in 2008's The Dark Knight is the single best performance by an actor I have ever seen on film. So it goes without saying Jared Leto had some big shoes to fill. But if anyone could pull off The Joker, it was him. After all, Jared Leto is ACTUALLY crazy so playing The Joker should be easy, right? Well, this was perhaps the most disappointing part of Suicide Squad: Jared Leto was......fine. Nothing more, and nothing less. He really wasn't given a whole lot of time to develop his character, and his writing left a LOT to be desired, but Leto really did not step into the shoes of The Joker as much as I thought he would.
So, ultimately, that's what I have to say about a film that can be described by two words. While there's a lot of potential squandered here, Suicide Squad doesn't completely fall on its face, and thanks to several great performances, especially Margot Robbie, it manages to keep its head above water, barely. While I was expecting so much more, I can't say this is the worst DC film I have ever seen, which at the end of the day is an accomplishment. Well done, Warner Brothers. You have officially achieved mediocrity.
The Critique: Painfully mediocre, Suicide Squad squanders its vast potential with poor pacing, lighting, and musical choices, despite a spectacular performance from Margot Robbie.
The Recommendation: Margot Robbie is worth the cost of admission, but I really hope Warner Brothers identifies this and creates a Harley Quinn standalone film, so for now I'll say Redbox it.
The Verdict: 5/10 Average