So before starting this I feel I should lay some of my cards on the table and check the potential baggage I'm carrying into this review that you should know about as this may have impacted my view of the film. 1) My wisdom teeth had been hurting fairly badly and were hurting a bit when I saw this film. 2) while I have a passable general knowledge of comic books and chronologies my knowledge isn't very deep so for parts of this I have done additional research to sure up some stuff. 3) There will be spoilers for this film and Batman Vs Superman.
Ok then. Lets start this review and I'll start by answering the most important question people will want answered. Is it any good? In my opinion, yes. It's good, not great, not the best it could be but also not mediocre or a steaming pile of crap. It's a solid entry which considering the reaction to Batman Vs Superman is a step up. The action scenes are enjoyable and stylishly done and the acting is good, yes even Jared Leto as The Joker (more on that later).
Story wise it does seem a slight mess with one over-arching crisis seemingly taking a back seat with even the writing seeming to realise the ridiculousness of this with the odd character comments asking what's going on with the insane light show going on. It feels like at least the first part of the actual mission exists merely because the writers needed to pad some time and couldn't think of another way to ramp up tension and fill some time. It's only through plot contrivance that the Squad eventually end up dealing with the major threat. All the while Joker is undertaking his own sub plot which invariably collides with the others before petering out.
The films problems other than the seeming filler plot and the Joker (more on this later as I said) include one action sequence that didn't feel brilliantly shot and lead to much confusion for me and others whom I heard talking about the film as it didn't really seem as clearly shot as it could have been with both enemies and good guys being clothed in black in a situation where the camera was already slightly distorted.
Characterisation & acting.
The acting seems very much on point with from Margot Robbie's loved up but also very protective of her friends Harley Quinn; Joel Kinnaman's portrayal as the somewhat conflicted Rick Flag; Will Smith as a re-imagining of Deadshot; Viola Davis as the amoral Amanda Waller; Jai Courtney as Captain Boomerang and even Jared Leto as the Joker along with the rest of the cast. I would also say the stand out performance was probably Cara Delevingne as Dr June Moone and Enchantress managing to appear as two very different characters.
Now you may have noticed I said Jared Leto acted well as the Joker and I know that's likely to have ruffled a few feathers. So let me explain that in this instance I felt it important to try and separate acting and characterisation as honestly Jared Leto really does do a good job seeming to appear as the psychopathic Joker. The problem is the writing / version of the Joker present is a very different Joker to what most people are used to. This Joker feels more like Zsasz being more of an ostentatious criminal overlord than a force of chaos with a gang of street thugs. This new Mafia boss style Joker just feels very out of place as does the fact his relationship with Harley Quinn has been made into far more of a Bonnie and Clyde mutually destructive romance than a sociopathic Joker taking advantage of Dr Harleen Quinzel. Most of the issue with the Joker and issues in fact with elements of the films story can be easily tied to this re-imaging for the worse.
Also worthy of note include that fact Harley Quinn is portrayed closer to her portrayal prior to her own series. Which should make sense given the continuity of Suicide Squad taking place before her turn from being a villain. I felt this worth mentioning as this was something people were taking some objection to it seems and in doing so belaying their ignorance of the position of Suicide Squad in DC continuity (or as much as the huge mess that is modern DC stuff can pass as having one). It does also show elements of the character that do appear later on such as her loyalty to people she considers friends.
Finally Deadshot has been changed a bit in their portrayal to no longer be the mercenary with a deathwish but as a villain who is a villain more due to it functioning as a way to use his skills to make a living and look after his daughter than him taking actual joy in the job. In fact this version of Deadshot is shown more to have a desire to turn his life around given the opportunity and to make people including his daughter proud of him. Even showing loyalty to fellow team mates instead of a professional detachment.
A solid film that's a good watch. It's not a ground breaking piece of cinema like The Dark Knight but it's far from mediocre or bad. I even believe the number of little bits hidden in the film could actually allow it to stand up well to multiple viewing with little touches being noticed each time. It's also worth noting this very much is a direct follow on from Batman Vs Superman even referencing events from it and the ending scene strongly hints this as part of the lead in to the Justice League film. I'd argue the film also very much does show DC's desire to be the darker comic movie universe compared to Marvel but in this case the balance of dark elements didn't seem to drag the film down and in fact added to a number of the individual character stories and those characters development throughout the film.
Ok time to talk more in depth and to do that it requires Spoilers. If you're reading this you know what you're getting, if you don't want possible parts of the film spoiled stop reading now.
One of the genius moments of the marketing for Suicide Squad has actually been to hide pretty much everything that could be considered a spoiler so much so that honestly people upset about the Joker being mostly a side plot could be forgiven for having thought somehow the Joker was the main villain. The actual Villain is team member gone rogue Enchantress (a very powerful ancient metahuman whose spirit now possesses Dr June Moone ) who hates being used by Waller and wants to take revenge on humanity for humanity stopping worshiping her and her brother and turning on them sealing their souls in artefacts. Her plan to do this involves freeing her brother and then using his power to sustain herself until she can recover her heart (which Waller is keeping as a mean to control the spirit) and also build a giant doomsday device to destroy all humanity.
The films spends a good part of the opening explaining backstories for the team members and how they were capture mostly except for the character Slipknot who is introduced and as just being there and is quickly killed off to as an example when he tries to desert the team. Also the initial introduction of Katana doesn't explain her very well, which even the film seems to acknowledge by explaining in more detail later on.
The whole "Doomsday device" isn't actually the team mission at all as their initial mission is to rescue an asset. Initially described as a researcher who could has valuable information but in actuality turns out to Amanda Waller herself whose centre of operations is on the edge of the city near where the doomsday weapon is being made. This mission is made more difficult by the interference of Enchantress's minions that are out to get the Suicide Squad Team leader special forces soldier Rick Flag possibly because Enchantress believes he will lead her to Waller and her missing heart and partly because Rick Flag's relationship with Dr June Moone (Enchantress's host whom can allow the spirit of the Enchantress to take over by saying 'Enchantress').
However Jokers plan goes wrong when Enchantress's brother Incubus takes down the Jokers Helicopter and Harley Quinn ending up jumping out onto a rooftop.
Waller's escape also goes about as smoothly with her helicopter being taken down and her captured. When the squad see this they go to the wreckage and discover Waller missing and a file of information about them and more. Flag relives the team of the mission and they head off to a bar where Flag joins later on to come clean to them about the nature of events and his relationship with Dr June Moone smashing the device designed to detonate their micro bombs. The team decides to rally round Flag and to prove themselves as having worth as more the simple villains.
Before the fight begins Enchantress attempts to use the desires of the team to tempt them to switch sides. Showing Deadshot instead of surrendering to Batman, having killed Batman and being able to return to living with his daughter using the money from his hits to fund this. Also shown is Harley Quinn living as a part of a suburban couple with a version of the Joker who appears as a slick businessman (without green hair, white makeup or the tattoos) along with their child living a seemingly normal live. However when Enchantress shows Diablo (A gang member who can control fire but wants to turn his life round after his powers cost him his family) his family he shakes out of it realising it's not and can't become real. It's also worth noting that Harley's dream of having a child with the Joker actually makes sense of an earlier scene with the Joker laying on his back lamenting losing her surrounded by knives, guns and in the top corner a number of baby grows.
The fight with Incubus sees Diablo finally embrace his powers and turn into a monster seemingly made of fire. During fight Incubus over a spot where the underground goes while a second military team and Killer Croc detonate a bomb under Incubus with Diablo sacrificing himself to kill Incubus.
Next the team take on the fully powered Enchantress with the plan being to cut out her heart as a means to defeat her. Enchantress attempts to again convince the team to join them before fighting to a seeming stalemate. At this point Harley Quinn agrees to join Enchantress and upon being asked to kneel bends down grabs Katana's sword and cuts out Enchantress's heart. Rick Flag then uses the heart to command Enchantress to return Dr June Moone, when Enchantress refuses he crushes the heart seemingly killing her. Only for moments later someone to notice the eyes move on Enchantress's corpse and Dr June Moone to almost rip herself free from the corpse. Just as the team are about to go their separate ways it's revealed Waller survived and she still has a device that can detonate their bombs thus reminds them of the deal. However when it's revealed that all of this was for 10 years off their sentences many of them object with Waller allowing some concessions to the deal such as Deadshot being able to visit his daughter sometimes, an espresso maker for Harley Quinn and a Flatscreen TV for Killer Croc.
The films ends with Harley Quinns cell room being breached while people in swat gear kill the guard. Then when one of them enters her cell he reveals himself to be The Joker come to save her.
The Post credit scene shows Waller meeting with Bruce Wayne and much to her dislike handing over a file on known metahumans to Mr Wayne and asking what he plans to do. His response is she doesn't need to know but he suggests she disband her little team or him and his friends might have to do it at some point.
Throughout the film are little tension breaking moments often added by Captain Boomerang who acts as the regular comic relief from his constantly producing cans of beer to drink before or during fights to him trying to chat up Katana and even the existence of the stuffed unicorn he keeps in his jacket. Even the ending having a comedic twist as he points out 10 years off his triple life sentence means very little.
I do feel the Joker was very much Shoehorned into the film merely to act as a way to try and let Harley Quinn escape and the re-imagining of the Joker to allow this to make sense does harm to character and the film. It would have made more sense for the Joker to have been closer to previous portrayals of the character. The film could have had him doing some heist or taking advantage of the chaos in the area and Harley spotting him then slipping off to try and join up with him.
Honestly I think a sequel could work and iron out some of the problems the film had as Suicide Squad presents something Marvel has been somewhat reluctant to do. A film where characters other than the villain can be killed off, and in doing this it actually made the ending far more impactful all without ending up like a Zack Snyder shaped joke of a film.