There has been some controversy about whether or not Suicide Squad is a good movie, and we’re going to come down firmly in the middle.

I enjoyed it but had more problems than I can address in a 500-word review.

suicide_squad-logoThis isn’t a character driven story. This is a shooty, punchy, action romp. It is fun, written with comic book sensibilities, but paced like a video game. It’s big enough for the big screen but doesn’t make good use of it. It is too dark and hard to tell who is hitting what.

In the age of the internet, superhero movies often rely on the audience to be familiar with characters before seeing a film. This can be used to good effect, but it often misses by requiring the audience to research a film thoroughly beforehand. In Suicide Squad, the characters’ origins are covered by scattered bits of flashback, but they don’t waste any time introducing anybody.

This is especially evident when people literally walk into shot and join the team. “Now that you’re suited up, here’s another member of your team: [Panda Man] The Guy Who Can Climb Anything.” Wait, what?! Climb anything? We have an impossible class sniper, two meta-humans, and crazy chick, but our team isn’t complete without a guy and his pair of rope guns? What kind of mission is this? Should we all have climbing gear? Saaay, adding him at the last second wouldn’t have anything to do with those bombs you placed in our necks before we had a completely disposable character, would it?

You think we added him at the last second? Start the helicopter and walk Katana on. First appearing in the ninja-crazed 80s, she’s cliché enough that we don’t even need the flash card intro.

Viola Davis re-imagines Annalise Keating as director of a secret government agency. Will Smith was a pleasant surprise as Deadshot. They might have carried the movie alone, but they were overshadowed.

Is the character still great if you put her in her original costume?

Mistah J thought I should blend in more.

Harley Quinn is the wedge. Like her, love the film. Have any problem with her, hate the film.

Margot Robbie did a good job. Really. She nailed the personality. Unfortunately, she was saddled with: a script that gave her nothing to do besides be Joker’s girlfriend, demonstrate psychotic, and hit things; and cinematography that felt the need to key-light her (and only her), make sure she bent over as much as possible, and (when it ran out of ways to show us hiked up shorts and close-ups of the gap between her thighs) turned her into a one-woman wet-t-shirt contest.

This evaluation has nothing to do with Harley Quinn as a character but everything to do with the way she was used in this film. Think she was strong and independent? Before she got naked in front of all the soldiers, she pulled the full harlequin jumpsuit from her bag. Why didn’t she wear that instead of the shorts that had to be digitally lengthened for the TV trailers?