. . . *Sigh*
Okay, let's do this.
On paper, Suicide Squad is a solid idea. The superhero movie is in a place of flux, with the inability to get away with simply another hero fighting a bad guy on a bridge being enough to pass muster having become very apparent. MARVEL Studios has approached this by turning sequels into multi-franchise cross-over events or branching out into different genres, and Fox had great success by giving superhero tropes a ribald ribbing in this year's surprise smash featuring "the merc with a mouth." With a team of thieves and murderers - who are "bad, but not evil" as it were - forming a black-ops unit and serving as a group of Anti-hero Avengers, this could have been a great shot in the arm for anyone sick of dudes in capes slugging CGI nasties or magic doodads and death portals in the sky.
Unfortunately, whether by result of far too many cooks in this kitchen (the film has been so obviously rejiggered in the editing room that entire characters disappear without a mention and one the main villains is barely named, let alone developed as a character), or by David Ayer being a bad fit for PG-13 funny book movies in the first place, Suicide Squad lands less as a strutting, confident rebel than. . . well, this:
Not that there's anything inherently wrong in reactionary trend-chasing (though, HOO BOY is it ever obvious how much Squad wants to be "Guardians of the Galaxy in tats and bling"), but the film is chasing several different stories and character relationships, and not only are they all the wrong ones, they're never fully developed. The titular squad - featuring Deadshot, Harley Quinn, Killer Croc, Captain Boomerang, El Diablo, Enchantress, Katana, Slipknot, and their handler Colonel Rick Flagg - are introduced in extremely choppy ways (some of them multiple times) and only a few of them get any sort of personality apart from repeatedly reminding the audience how "bad dudes" they are. And what character "growth" there is for them is both unearned and uninteresting.
Which is a shame, because a few of the actors are trying their damnedest to make you care. Viola Davis shows up to chew through solid steel as Amanda Waller, the government hard-ass who came up with the idea of the squad itself, and both Will Smith and Margot Robbie absolutely walk the Movie Star walk as Deadshot and Harley whenever they have half a chance. Even the underused Jay Hernandez gets some genuinely tragic pathos as walking firebomb Diablo who refuses to ignite because of guilt over his past misdeeds. But the film fails these obviously-straining performers by not giving them enough time to actually play off each other meaningfully (some of the squad never even interact with each other), chopping their "moments" into pieces and splicing them into the film in seemingly random order, and sticking them in a boring story involving, of all things, CGI nasties with magic doddads who want to wipe out the world with a deadly sky portal.
(Sidebar: please stop with the freakin' sky portals, Hollywood. You're never going to do it as well as The Avengers, so just knock it the **** off already)
Such hackneyed boilerplate seems like even more of a waste when it takes all of 2 minutes to brainstorm a much better, more interesting, and more "earthbound" story - which would suit the team's largely earthbound abilities better - involving the Joker as the main heavy (oh look, a built-in personal connection!) as opposed to what he is in the film.
Which is a glorified cameo.
Who's overracting seems to jump out of a latter-day Jim Carry movie, and not the funny ones.
And is as annoying as he is boring.
. . . Jared Leto makes for a terrible Joker, is what I'm getting at here.
A few of the jokes land, there's one or two genuinely successful moments (one in particular belonging to El Diablo, who really deserved to do more in the movie than silently mope for 3/4 of it), but without compelling dynamics or emotional resonance, it relies on garish design and action spectacle, both of which are ugly to the point of incomprehensibility. Add in the obnoxious try-hard feel of the thing, down to eye-rollingly obnoxious needle drops that are as prevalent as the leering shots of Margot Robbie in Quinn's booty shorts, and it overstays its welcome even at just over 2 hours.
For all its bluster, Suicide Squad winds up being so generically incompetent that it makes Deadpool feel like a specific takedown of it from sometime in the future, rather a swipe at the genre at large from six months ago.