Well, it was the muddled mess I’d been told to expect, but it has its virtues. Briefly:
• The movie’s scattershot tone and structure was clearly the result of post-script meddling, I’d say. And hell — I get it. The project probably seemed like a clear answer to Guardians of the Galaxy, so they tried to ratchet up the fun.
• The movie couldn’t decide whether to be ugly-hearted or empathetic. Big problem. It was stuck being the first when it needed to be the second — its fitful moments of empathy were its strongest.
• Margot Robbie was great, though her performance underlined just how ghoulish a character Harley is (for me). I understand her appeal, and I think the movie largely got Harley “right”; I just don’t much care for Harley, I’m sorry to say.
• Jared Leto is a pretty loathsome person, but his performance was the right one for this movie.
• Viola Davis was fantastic, and her portrayal of Waller was pitch-perfect. A shame she wasn’t in a better movie.
The movie’s best scenes:
- All the stuff with Will Smith. Yes, yes, yes — they added the “pining, faithful” father stuff to let Smith play one of his contractually-obligated good guys, but at least the material gave Smith someone with a plausible psychology to play.
- The bar scene right before the finale. It bore the hallmarks of a pickup added in response to similar scenes in Avengers and Guardians of the Galaxy, but that doesn’t mean it couldn’t work. If the movie had focused on this team getting to know — and feel empathy — for each other, I think it would’ve been far more successful.
• El Diablo was a missed opportunity, and they delivered his key exposition far too late to do the narrative much good. Nice performance, though.
• Is it just me, or should they have shown the Enchantress transforming the citizens of Midway City into her bubbly-headed rock-beast minions before they introduced those minions? And why did they need to carry guns and swords?
• When the gang finally arrived for the final showdown, the Enchantress was dancing some manner of watusi amidst her whirling mushroom cloud of magic — easily the most unintentionally hilarious image of the movie.
• I like Joel Kinnaman — he was awesome on House of Cards — but his attempt at a “good old boy” accent fell flat. Otherwise, he wasn’t bad. He seemed to really feel for some of the squad; when he first laid eyes on Killer Croc, he asked, “Why’d they put you down here?” His tone conveyed real empathy. Pity the movie didn’t follow up on it.
• Jai Courtney was a surprisingly strong asset, displaying some real comic chops. Too bad he had zero psychology to play.
• Harley’s occasional psychoanalyzing of the team was a welcome nuance.
Author: Tony Lazlo, CC2K Staff Writer
Robert J. Peterson is a writer and web developer living in Los Angeles. A Tennessee native, he graduated from Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism. He’s written for newspapers and websites all over the country, including the Marin Independent Journal, the Telluride Daily Planet, CC2KOnline.com, Offscreen, and Geekscape.net. He co-hosts the podcasts Make It So and Hiram’s Lodge. He’s appeared as a pop-culture guru on the web talk shows Comics on Comics, The Fanbase Press Week In Review, Collider Heroes, ScreenJunkies TV Fights, and Fandom Planet. He’s the founder of California Coldblood Books.