Suicide Squad ★★½

Oh boy, where do I begin...

First of all, I actually enjoyed the movie alright, overall. It was an OK movie that is soul-crushingly disappointing because of just how damn good it COULD have been. I honestly think that, with a better plot and less terrible editing choices, this could have been a 5-star film. It's got that spark in there, but it was mushed up by obvious studio interference and a stubborn choice to keep with PG-13 superhero movie norms.

The cast is great, and definitely the best part of the movie. Deadshot, Harley Quinn, Rick Flag, Captain Boomerang, Diablo, Amanda Waller... the characters are all extremely memorable and fun. Despite the plot, the characters shine and the actors have a good time with it (except for Jared Leto apparently but I'm ignoring behind-the-scenes drama). Most of them don't actually get much to do, but we'll get into that.

Unfortunately, that's all squandered, because damn if the plot isn't one of the worst in recent blockbuster memory. Without going into too much detail, the story starts out introducing the characters for the first twenty minutes via extremely clunky and inorganic flashback sequences. Amanda Waller's going to create a team of convicts to fight the less-than-legal battles that nobody else can or wants to. But then almost immediately, a mega-threat breaks out, BECAUSE of the creation of this team, and the very first mission the team is sent on is to fight against yet another Super Evil Massive God-like Villain with a bunch of faceless mooks. The plot is just Avengers, or Avengers 2, or Fantastic Four, or Fantastic Four 2, or Fant4stic, but reskinned with some Inglourious Basterds-types.

The power set of the Suicide Squad is like... next to nothing. There's some special forces commandos, two super-powered individuals (only one of which is actually incredibly useful, and that's Diablo), and a bunch of mildly-talented criminals to beat up the faceless mooks occasionally. It's like sending a team of Hawkeyes to fight Ultron. Seriously, that's an extremely apt comparison.

So the main action of the movie is basically a zombie flick as the Suicide Squad journeys through a war-zone urban area and goes on their extremely dangerous mission, following all the standard plot beats of a superhero movie. It never strays too far from the generic ensemble team-building, and that's what disappoints me the most, because it makes the movie almost unbearably annoying at times. These guys are villains! They're being sent on a suicide mission mostly against their will! The stakes are extremely high, and yet the movie sacrifices stakes over marketing their team as the next Guardians of the Galaxy. It really sucks because it defeats the spirit of the premise.

The Joker's role in the movie is almost completely superfluous in the end; it seems that they added more of him into the movie than they originally planned in reshoots so that they could please fanboys, and it's really obvious every time they show a reshoot-added scene. There's entire characters that don't appear until halfway through the movie, and random pauses for flashbacks at inconvenient times. This movie had just as much studio meddling as Fant4stic, apparently, though it's spread throughout the film instead of a sudden break halfway through like its predecessor.

While Batman v Superman was a conventional superhero story that got bogged down in its own ambitions, Suicide Squad is a very unconventional superhero story that gets bogged down by its adherence to formulas. The latter film is definitely better, but it's just filled with problems, which really sucks because it has incredible potential inside it. It's definitely possible to come out of this one enjoying it, but it missed its chance to be anything special.

Blog-type ramble:

Though... I do always wonder for a movie like this, where there's a massive backlash of bad reviews, a real shock to me, just before release, if that ended up affecting my opinion of the movie one way or the other. I had read several reviews of the movie days prior, and knew a lot of the stuff I was going to get into. Did I dislike the movie more because I knew some of the stuff that I may otherwise not have noticed so clearly? Did I like it more because I already knew what people hated about it and thought many of the complaints were overblown? It's hard to say.

The Force Awakens is the only movie in the past several years where I've gone into it completely blind to critical reception. I used to try and hide myself from the reviews, especially in Summer 2013 when I tried to see Man of Steel and Pacific Rim without anything. The former almost succeeded, but my brother spoiled the 55% that it had at that moment. The latter I somehow found had very good reviews a while before watching. So aside from one circumstance where I was able to shield myself from a movie I was going to love regardless, there's not much I can judge by. So it's hard to say if the reviews impacted my overall enjoyment (or lack thereof) for Suicide Squad. Interesting to think about, at least.

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