The friend I went to see Suicide Squad with summed it up pretty well: It’s a perfectly good FX movie. It’s the kind of film you wouldn’t at all mind putting on if it happened to be on TV. It was a good film, in my opinion, I’m glad I went to see it. It just…wasn’t set up quite right. It was a good movie, but I honestly believe it could have been made to be excellent.
Generally, the main problem was the pacing, and the depth of the characterization. Early on most of the characters are introduced via flashbacks that seem somewhat out of place and, frankly, a bit clunky. I’m not saying that’s a bad way to introduce an ensemble of characters, but the emotional connections to the characters one would hope these would establish in the audience, just don’t come through. Much of the plot and drama of the film revolve around Rick Flagg’s relationship with June Moone/The Enchantress, and the scant collection of clips in which that relationship is presented early in the film just doesn’t make it seem real enough to the audience. This can be easily expected in a film trying to introduce half a dozen important characters, but I can’t help but think a more emotionally potent way of introducing most of the characters could have been easily devised.
[Note: this is where the SPOILERS start, so if you haven’t seen the movie and want to be surprised, I suggest you bookmark this and read it later]
There was also the issue of foreshadowing, in that it tended to be either way too obvious or distinctly absent. Either events occurred which I, and many (if not most) others had guessed from the second trailer; such as Slipknot dying first to prove that the nano-bombs weren’t an idle threat, after apearing very little in the trailers, not getting an explanatory flashback like the rest of the group and generally getting no characterization whatsoever; or there were developments which you would think would be alluded to that came more or less out of the blue; such as Diablo abruptly TRANSFORMING INTO SOME KIND OF EMBODIMENT OF AN AZTEC FIRE GOD OR SOMETHING in the climax of the film to fight the secondary antagonist.
The biggest problem however, I can only describe thusly: They tried to have their Big Reveal and eat it too. We, as the audience know from the end of the first act that Enchantress is the bad guy, that she released her “brother” (which I had to find out from reading the film’s TV Tropes article is non-descriptively called “Incubus”), that she is responsible for the big Swirling Vortex of Trash and Lightning (SVTL) that’s destroying Midway City, that she is at the center of the story’s conflict. The titular Suicide Squad, aka the protagonists, aka our primary viewpoint characters, however, do not. They spend the bulk of the movie completely in the dark in a way that the audience is incapable of relating to. Then, when the whole story is revealed to the Squad, it’s treated like it’s a reveal to the audience as well; they even show some footage filling in events that were left vague before, and expect it to be treated as a dramatic moment by the audience. The way events are presented to us creates a disconnect with the characters that distracts from the drama of the story.
The thing is, it’s not hard to imagine the movie re-edited in such a way that these problems aren’t present. Had they introduced the crisis of the film with the scene Incubus emerges in the subway station, without context, then revealed how Enchantress released him from the doll during the reveal to the Suicide Squad, the movie would have been, ironically, much more linear seeming. All it would take is simply alluding to Enchantress’s involvement in the SVTL, to her absence from the plot, then expose how she got free during the reveal to the characters, while, in my model, simultaneously showing her transformation into her more powerful form as she gets her heart back from Amanda Waller. THAT is a big reveal, and THAT would have preserved the drama and narrative quality of the film.
Also it would have been nice if Katana had a somewhat more prominent role.
So yeah, by and large I’m blaming the editing on this one. Screw you editors you screwed up a potentially really good movie. Still, I’d say it’s worth watching. If nothing else, just sit back and enjoy the outstandingly awesome action scenes. Killer Crock was my personal favorite ass-kicker.