Sometimes its good to be out of the country for a couple weeks when a movie opens to avoid all the critical feedback, so you can just walk in and form your own opinion.
Yesterday, I finally caught up with the latest DC superhero film SUICIDE SQUAD, and I loved it.
Earlier in the year, I groaned about every DC film being hopelessly depressing after sitting through the turgid Batman V Superman opus.
Well DC, this is more like it.
The first half of the film is almost Tarantino like, with terrific on-screen graphics and classic tunes introducing the VERY bad men, women and creatures of our Squad.
Viola Davis is strong as government agent Amanda Waller, assembling a modern Dirty Dozen of "gifted" meta-humans just in case the next Superman to visit Earth turns out to be a galactic serial killer.
In short, chapter-like scenes, we meet each of the team. Will Smith has his best role in years as Deadshot, a modern day Scaramanga hit man with a gift for perfect aim and a soft spot for his daughter.
Margot Robbie dazzles and brings a ton of laughs and sex appeal as Harley Quinn, a baseball bat wielding bad-ass who's been seduced by the Joker from leading psychiatrist to crazy sociopath. Robbie wields one-liners and the bat with equal skill, slinking and spinning her way through the film on a tightrope between bad and REALLY bad.
The object of her obsession is The Joker. And what a Joker he is.
It's impossible to top Heath Ledger's portrayal in "The Dark Knight", so Jared Leto brilliantly doesn't try to, he ratchets up the crazy to such heights that he oozes menace with every gesture.
You end up hanging on every word he says and Leto OWNS the screen every time he's on it.
Joel Kinnamann is Rick Flag, the best that the US Special forces has to offer and the appointed leader of our demented group.
Jai Courtney has his best film role as the hard drinking Boomerang, Jay Hernandez brings some real heart and a WHOLE lot of fire to his role as DIABLO and Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje (Lost) adds some humor buried under a lot of makeup as Killer Croc.
The weakest link in the massive character base is our villain The Enchantress (Cara Delevingne) who's beautiful, interesting but seems like a cut and paste bad guy from any DC or Marvel film.
Or maybe it's just that each of our GOOD bad guys on the squad has SO much personality that we just feel betrayed when the story focuses on the witch in all her swirling, smoky sameness.
Regardless, its a minor complaint.
Ben Affleck adds credibility and weight to his current reign as Batman by appearing much more than I expected him to in this film.
Like "Deadpool" in the Marvel realm, this movie mixes big laughs and plenty of fun moments in with the violence and mayhem.
Common has a great small role as a crime boss meeting with The Joker, Scott Eastwood (looking more and more like his dad) is good as a human member of the squad and at least one other DC hero makes a surprise appearance that makes an impact.
I wish the filmmakers had made the decision to take this to the R rated film it's screaming to be. THAT version of the movie is begging to be seen and like "Deadpool" will likely have plenty to offer adult fans of the genre.
Writer/Director David Ayer (Fury, Training Day) brings a ton of energy and style to his creative process and my earlier Tarantino reference is meant as the highest compliment.
The second half of the film fails to keep the momentum and fun quotient up that Ayer tees up in the first half. Once he introduces his squad in near perfect style, he needs to give them something to do and the film falls down a bit, but you never stop rooting for the bad guys (the bad guys that are the good guys....).
Leto's Joker is worth the price of the ticket and I'm hoping that he gets a stand alone film that gives Leto the room and the story to really spend more time with this twisted, violent, insane madman. His Joker rocks.
This neon splashed, sordid DC Wild Bunch brings the ammo and hits the target for me.
The first half is an A+, the entire film settles in with a solid B.