Suicide Squad ★★½

David Ayer seemed like such the ideal director to tackle on a movie centered around the "Worst Heroes Ever". With movies like Training Day, Fury, and End of Watch, he clearly knows how to create compelling protagonists that are not your traditional good guys. It's so unfortunate, that the more Suicide Squad goes on it becomes only vastly more apparent that Ayer only likely lost lots of creative control over this, and because of this I can't even bare to put all the blame on him for the messy structure Suicide Squad endures.

On the good side of things, the film does really work when it comes to the dynamics of its core characters. In a casting choice many including myself were initially worried about, Will Smith commands the screen as Floyd Lawton/Deadshot, embodying the physicality, comedic side and leadership charisma of the role while his brief, but meaningful scenes with his daughter adds a needed layer of humanity to his performance. It's the most enjoyable the Fresh Prince has been in at least a good 10 years, and as at least a formally huge fan of the megastar it brings such a smile on my face to say that. By no surprise, Margot Robbie is a scene stealer as she captures the unleashed insanity and quirkiness of Harley Quinn while Robbie's just pure natural on screen likeability makes Quinn one of the surprisingly more likeable characters here. In a movie that contains more than 5 different supervillains, Viola Davis's Amanda Waller stands out as the most menacing presence of them all. Jesus don't get on the bad side of this woman! Other solid standouts include Jay Hernandez as the dangerous, but somewhat sympathetic El Diablo and the biggest surprise of them all, Jai Courtney is actually quite fun as Captain Boomrang. It would've been a nice welcome if this script had given Boomrang at least one once of character development, but any movie that has me wishing for more of Courtney must be doing something right. Joel Kinnaman is just simply okay as Rick Flag, but he doesn't have the gravitas and charisma the role really requires. I'm still just not sold on this guy as a leading star material, but then again the script gives Flag as much personality as a cardboard box.

However, these terrific performers can only do so much when the movie that is surrounding them is such a narratively structured mess and even for superhero movies standards, throws out any bit of logic from the get go. Even the beginning flashback sequences while mostly effective in their own context, are so choppily edited in a way that it plays as if you're watching a trailer for a different movie. It's potentially promising build up to character growth for these characters, but it never builds on that promise considering every other character perhaps not named Deadshot, is devoid of any emotional character arc.

Rumors have it that David Ayer was only given an amount of 6 weeks by WB to write this script, and that unfortunate effect really shows in the final product. Nevermind the constantly jarring editing, or the fact that the entire mission task the squad is assigned to makes no sense, characters motivations are mostly non existent and relationships are rarely ever explored on. The dysfunctional historic relationship between Harley Quinn and The Joker is given one good scene in that it effectively shows how crucial Joker is in creating the origin of Harley Quinn, but the script never actually takes its time to actually establish why Quinn is such a apparent important piece to The Joker. Yes we get it, it's a twisted, unhealthy love between the two, but considering The Joker's only purpose is to serve as a fan service plot device to be her savior, this is a dynamic that I feel entirely should've been saved for another movie.

And as for this new incarnation of The Clown Prince of Crime, Jared Leto's first outing as this new Joker is a bit of a mixed bag. I'm all in for the more mobster crime boss take on the iconic character, and Leto makes him just menacing enough for the all of 5 minutes of screen time he actually has, but he simply isn't in it enough for me to get a great impression. Curious to eventually see more of him in this role though, and I guess that's the best praise I can give his performance. Also, did anyone else find it a little odd how none of the other Squad members besides Harley ever acknowledge the Joker's existence? Maybe that's just me being too picky.

Leto at least fares much better than Cara Delevingne whose wooden and emotionally dry performance as both Dr. June Moon & the ultimate main villain Enchantress brings everything down entirely. As the Enchantress, she fails to ever be terrifying while the motivations of this villain are entirely non existent. On paper, the relationship between Rick Flag and Moon should've been the heart of the film, but since Joel Kinnaman and Delevingne fail to sell this crucial dynamic, it just never works leading to this actual mission the squad is tasked to lack any sense of urgency or weight behind it.

In a summer that has been filled with forgettable and disappointing blockbusters, Suicide Squad should've been the ultimate blockbuster to salvage probably the worst summer movie season we've had in years. With a dynamite cast, the right suited director, and what I believe just might have been the best marketing team amongst a blockbuster in years, this should've been nothing less than the DCEU's first home run (at least for me). As a pure spectacle, and entertainment value it satisfies well enough, but as someone who wanted these wonderful and rich characters to be surrounded within a worthy storyline to get invested in I couldn't help not walk out of this a bit disappointed. The good thing is I love these characters so much, that despite my utter disappointment, I'll still be first in line for more adventures with Deadshot, Harley Quinn, The Joker, Captain Boomrang extc. And with that, I hope this movie makes all the money in the world, because as much as it keeps letting me down, I'm still pulling for the DCEU. I just hope WB & DC can eventually get it together and trust in giving their directors as much creative freedom as they need to make the movie they want.

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