Jonathan Case’s review published on Letterboxd:
This cast deserved a better story. The problems of Suicide Squad lie not with the difficulty of making villains into "protagonists" (and they aren't, nor should they be), but with the absence of a purposeful plot or coherent journey.
Before I begin, I must preface this with the following. The triumph here is the characters and the cast themselves. I wish I could give this movie a higher rating for them. They do not deserve the rating. The movie does, but they certainly don't.
The ones you'd expect to steal the show do and that isn't necessarily a bad thing. Margot Robbie is a wonderful Harley Quinn as she embraces many versions of the popular villainess and combines them into a highly likable and, thankfully, a never overused comic book character brought to life. She is a delight.
Will Smith's Deadshot is what I thought he'd be. Will Smith being Will Smith, but this actually works out well. In a movie where everything seemed to begin fall apart, having Smith there to more or less ground what was going on through a straightforward and entertaining performance was a blessing in disguise. He didn't do anything new or exceptional with the character as he pretty much plays himself, but his charm and interactions with Harley kept me invested when it was most difficult for me to be.
Captain Boomerang is easily the funniest and biggest surprise of the film as Jai Courtney hit it out of the park with his manic ne'er-do-well always looking to cause problems. Outside of Harley herself, Boomerang is probably the most put together in terms of coming out of a comic book, but still feeling natural in the real world. The scenes we see of him pre lock up are clever and hysterical complete with a Flash cameo that doesn't actually feel out of place.
Viola Davis shines as the twisted Amanda Waller and while her motivations are ludicrous, her acting more than raises the bar for all the others in the room in more than a few scenes. Once again though, I wish she had better words to deliver and that fault was the writers'.
I honestly don't have much to say about the Rick Flag character as he felt too "middle of the road." He could have been put in any military movie (and maybe thats the idea given he's soldier?) and not feel out of place. Regardless, his accent bothered me to no end and I just got tired of the character's presence. Eastwood did a fine job, the character just wasn't for me I guess.
Diablo however is probably the deepest member of the squad with the most tragic of backstories. His motivations and actions felt the most justified and surprisingly relatable. The movie was too afraid to go too dark with him and so we are left with pieces of an excellent backstory without the full time and care needed for them to be put together and told fully. Jay Hernandez nailed it, but was restricted in what he could do as an actor.
Every other character was criminally underdeveloped. The biggest offender being Katana. I want to know more! The movie began with these little vignettes of Harley and Deadshot's backstories. Each set them up well with Quinn's containing some of the best and most intriguing sequences of the entire film! Why not make that the story? Why start by introducing these characters one by one only to give up less than 15 minutes in and moving on? It's like those behind the scenes felt they realized that couldn't introduce everyone fully so they decided to not really try to at all.
In the beginning I thought that the music was going to be used as a bit of a gimmick to introduce each member of the team. Sure, the idea is a little "on the nose," but it's a fun enough idea that I can get on board with. Once the vignettes ceased to exist however and we were well on our way into the story and the songs continued to play (and in 10 second long bits a lot of the time), the real problem reared its ugly head. A bunch of songs that everyone likes began being thrown in left and right haphazardly to keep the audiences' ears entertained. The opposite was achieved however as it only added to the confusion and each felt completely out of place. This is only one of the "technical difficulties" that plagued Suicide Squad.
Clearly David Ayer can direct as End of Watch was a brilliantly emotional tour de force and while I haven't seen his other films, I've heard nothing, but good things about more than one of them. Something went wrong here though. The most glaring issues emerge in two specific visual aspects though: action and reshoots.
When the action would finally kicked off I was more than ready. However, I quickly realized it was going to be a mixed bag. Some wide shots exist giving one an excellent view of what is going on, but sadly they are too few. And just to clarify, while I prefer the Jackie Chan method of clear concise action visuals, I'm not completely against its shaky cam counterpart either as I love the Bourne franchise. This was just incoherent though. Faceless monster things constantly attacking our "protagonists" with no emotional weight and a camera that refuses to make sense of anything that is going on. My eyes became so tired of trying to follow it all that I ended up just giving up trying to altogether.
The reshoots that were done stand out like a sore thumb. Each contained a joke at the end of lengthy sequence that fell flat. They were all done in mid to close up shots and they not only bog down the runtime, but punch the viewer in the face with how obviously they were inserted.
The stumbling block that goes hand in hand with the problem that is the story (or lack thereof) was the antagonist of the movie Enchantress. And again, I know I sound like a broken record given I keep talking up the cast, but Cara Delevingne is not the issue nor is the character. One of the coolest and most original things that this movie has to offer is her transformation into the Enchantress. It's visually spectacular and something that could only exist in a comic book movie. But no, the problem is the writing once again. I never knew what her motivations were. Why and what was that ridiculous CGI tornado thing she was building in the center of the city? Was it going to enslave everyone? Was it going to kill everyone? Take over the world? Destroy the world? I still don't know and, come the credits, I didn't care.
Now I've saved the most controversial bit for last: The Joker. I'm sorry to disappoint however by saying that I have almost no opinion about the character yet. There simply wasn't enough of him in the movie to give a full report. Jared Leto and team clearly wanted to do something different and it shows. While I don't care for the tattoos and the laugh wasn't maniacal enough for my taste, his overall "gangster" vibe, clothing, and motivations were pretty good. My favorite scene in the movie actually is the flashback to Harley's capture by Batman on her and Joker's "date night." It was a pure piece of Batman fiction brought to life and it was amazing.
Still, as I watched, something began to nag me about the character that I just couldn't put my finger on, but I finally figured it out.
The Joker shouldn't be able to go out in public.
I know this sounds random, but it bothered me. No matter what version of the Clown Prince of Crime we've seen onscreen or in the graphic novel, he's always been the mastermind behind the scene. Whether simple thug, overlord, or showman, he doesn't appear in public until he's killing everyone with gas, blowing stuff up, or playing up his own part in the final act of his master plan. He has to exist in the shadows, on the edge of society due to the kind of personality he has. That isn't the case here as there is a scene that takes place in some sort of nightclub with the Joker and Harley. And while the scene itself is again one of the better and more telling in terms of character development, it bothered me. The Joker sits in a booth in a nightclub like any other VIP. It just seems out of place. The Joker shouldn't be in public. He's the Joker. He should be in an abandoned warehouse pulling the strings till he can emerge in a scene stealing bit. Nicholson had his parade float, Ledger had his dinner party, but Leto just walks around like anyone else and its no big deal. It just doesn't add up for me and certainly undermines the character more than a little bit.
(I guess I had more to say about the Joker than I thought. xD)
The DCEU has taken some hits. While I like both Batman vs Superman: Dawn of Justice and Man of Steel for what they are, they both have flaws. They are both however, fairly coherent at the very least and engaging. Suicide Squad was neither of these things. Thank goodness for its cast though. They saved this from being an even bigger mess. Each was truly dedicated to being the best they could be for the audience. I commend them for that. This still doesn't excuse those behind the scenes however. I really wanted to like this more. :/
As for the franchise, I remain optimistic!
My reason? Two words: Wonder Woman :D