Let me just say this - I've seen and hated Man of Steel. I have the "Ultimate Cut" of Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice on reserve via the Chicago Public Library, since I didn't want to see it in a theater. (Those who know me will tell you - I'm not a fan of Zak Snyder as a filmmaker). So I went into Suicide Squad with an open mind yesterday - many have called it confusing; several have claimed that it "doesn't suck", even going as far as to organize a Wizard World panel explaining why the movie doesn't suck (and, as a result, preaching to the converted).
My take - Suicide Squad is much better than many critics will have you believe...and is a very solid film with a few flaws.
Perhaps critics, having to endure Batman V Superman, came into this film with huge preconceptions. Being a guy who loves caper/heist/let's-get-together-and-make-trouble films, Suicide Squad is an easy sell. But what makes Suicide Squad unique is that it has a relentless storytelling drive - yes, it hits all the key tropes, and also spends time in flashback...but there's an energy to this film that makes it unique.
So unique that, quite honestly, I feel this, and not Justice League, should be the lynch-pin of the DC Cinematic Universe. It does everything that Iron Man did so well - provide an emotional center, suggest a complete worldview, and tell an interesting story....even if that emotional center consists of an assassin who cares about his daughter and a woman trapped in a very unusual relationship.
(And yes, Viola Davis nails Amanda Waller, providing both a rationale for the Squad's existence as well as insight into the DC Cinematic Universe's status quo).
But it's not just that...it's the fact that the secondary characters have enough shading to make this worth watching. The thug who loves pink unicorns. The romance that serves as a secondary emotional consequence. The "villain seeking redemption" trope that plays out in a very interesting way....and Ayers manages to do something that Snyder never does: tell a compelling story.
For those of you who are still unconvinced: think "The Expendables with supervillains", and you're halfway there.
But Suicide Squad has several flaws that make it an OK, rather than exceptional, film:
- In the first half of the movie, familiar tunes are very overused. It's a nice, post-Pulp Fiction strategy: use familiar songs to suggest mood, theme, or character. When Guardians of the Galaxy used songs, it helped establish Peter Quill's ties to Earth; here, it's done to establish the nature of several characters and situations...but it's too loud and too obvious.
- If I were Jared Leto, I would be disappointed in Suicide Squad. His performance is underwhelming and...well, the Joker might have been better served as a behind-the-scenes character who complicates the Squad's lives.
- The ending sequence....OK, maybe Snyder's house style is dark and smoky, but Ayer? You know better. There were times I had difficulty determining what was happening.
- Still not convinced of Affleck-as-Batman. However, I was impressed with one sequence in which Will Smith - as Deadshot - shoots Batman. I would pay to see that actually happen in a Suicide Squad sequel.
In short, many of you who read this will wait until Suicide Squad comes out on DVD or on request. If you can see it in a theater, go see it. As soon as possible.
Because this, my friends, is the movie that DC should be proud to get behind.