I don't envy the burden Suicide Squad has to bear. After the less than stellar reception of Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice Warner Bros. was really banking on their band of super-villains to really convince audiences that their DCEU is something to get excited about. It needed to be fun, it needed it be unique, and above all, it need to be powerful and memorable.
Unfortunately the quality of Suicide Squad can be summed up in the words of the immortal Imortan Joe:
Sorry, there is just no other way to put it. The story, the action, the character development, all of it was mediocre at best. The worst part of the film's mediocrity is the promise the film starts out with. The first twenty minutes is spent introducing the audience to each member of the squad and, irritatingly obvious, cliched music cues aside, it does a great job of painting a picture of these characters. You get a sense of how unhinged Harley Quinn is, Deadshot is shown to be an incredibly dangerous hitman, Killer Croc is terrifying, El Diablo is a man clearly haunted by his past, Captain Walking Stereotype (Boomerang) is shown to be the incompetent comedic relief, and Slipknot is shown to....uh....well he likes ropes. A lot.
The disappointing thing is that this first twenty minutes essentially contains almost all of the film's character development. The film that starts with promising a disturbing, dark journey with flawed, nihilistic and downright crazy anti-heroes turns into a by-the-numbers comic book movie with characters that, honestly don't seem scary. While Margot Robbie gives an awesome performance as Harley Quinn and Will Smith gives his standard good performance as Deadshot, they aren't allowed to be truly bad by the film's direction.
If your thinking I forgot the Joker, well you're not wrong. I did forget the Joker's intro because it is absolutely and utterly forgettable. Where Nicholson had his scene in the surgeon's chair with the mirror and Ledger had his bank heist unmasking, Leto gets a flashback. In fact, Leto is easily the most shortchanged actor in the film. The Joker, despite the fact that he is shown at the center of most posters and featured heavily in the trailers has very little screen time. What little time he does have never reaches the heights of Nicholson or Ledger. I blame the director more than I do the actor. From what little I did see of Leto as the Clown Prince of Crime I think he could be a memorable Joker when his character isn't neutered by poor storytelling.
He definitely committed to the part, after all.
As for the film's villain...without getting into spoilers let me just say that if you are familiar with Rita, Zedd and putties from Power Rangers you have an idea of what the villains are like in this film. Underdeveloped, kind of silly, and frankly, a little stupid.
Now I am loath to blame David Ayer for the film's seeming disjointedness between the first and second acts. It's not secret that Warner Bros. spent $10 million on re-shoots after the mixed reception of Batman v. Superman. In other words the studio panicked and got in the way of a capable director. I wonder if Warner Bros. left the first act alone and then stepped in and totally chopped up the second and third acts. There are still fun, sometimes emotional moments peppered throughout the second and third acts, it just doesn't stick the landing because of the sloppy editing.
The Wrap Up
+Margot Robbie as Harley Quinn
+Some genuinely fun action
+Awesome first act which sets up some cool characters...
-...that fails to pay off in sloppy second and third acts
-Lacking in character development
6 out of 10 - Decent
I know it seems weird that a film can be both mediocre and decent at the same time, but that's what is so frustrating about this movie. It could have been, and should have been based on the talent involved, an incredible unique comic book movie. As it is, the film we got is a decent if not overly memorable comic book movie. Here's hoping there is a director's cut that puts in more Joker and adds in scenes to make the film feel less disjointed.