Saturday, August 13, 2016

Suicide Squad (2016 movie) review

    Underwhelming, Arkham City knock-off. Alternatively, someone attempting to do Guardians of the Galaxy and ending up with bad Avengers fanfiction. It's a sad day when I, who has defended the DC Movie universe pretty fiercely, just can't muster much energy for this particular round of it. It's doubly worse because Suicide Squad was the movie I was most looking forward to.

    I wrote the Supervillainy Saga novels because I loved villainous protagonists and the black comedy of things like The Secret Six as well as the original John Ostrander Suicide Squad. I also had high hopes for this because they already did the definitive Suicide Squad movie in the Batman: Assault on Arkham animated movie (reviewed here). Do that! Only with live action!

    And they didn't.

Harley, because everyone loves Harley.
    The problem with the movie is it's a mess. There's all the elements for the movie fans wanted to see but it's fairly clear the writers, producers, directors, and probably actors did their best to try and make a movie which would appeal to the comic book masses without really understanding the elements which make them appealing.

    If The Avengers is a Twinkie, then this is a Twinkie which has been smashed up with a hammer into an unappetizing mess.

    You may think I'm being unfair but I'll let my summary of the movie speak for itself: The United States government as represented by Amanda Waller (as played by Viola Davis) wants to assemble an anti-Superman squad which they create from a bunch of Batman villains, a few of which have superpowers, and then immediately lose control over the one which actually could do damage to Superman (The Enchantress as played by Cara Delevigne). The DCU movieverse's Superman is dead at this time so this is doubly confusing but is perhaps the most believable part as government bureaucracy never lets reality get in the way of a acquiring funding.

Just a wee bit too big for a team with too few deaths.
    The Suicide Squad of Deadshot (Will Smith), Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie), Captain Boomerang (Jai Courtney), Diablo (Jay Hernandez), Katana (Karen Fukuhara), Killer Croc (Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje), and Slipknot (Adam Beach) as supervised by Rick Flag (Joel Kinnaman) proceed to shoot their way through Enchantress' CGI minions before getting interrupted by the Joker (Jared Leto).

    There's an extended flashback to Harley Quinn's origins which involves Batman (Ben Affleck). Eventually, the group has an existential crisis, gets drunk, and goes to kill the Enchantress as well as her evil brother-god-thing. The Joker rescues Harley Quinn, which I think we're supposed to be happy about and the movie ends.

    The term overcrowded is one which is applicable as there's just too many characters fighting for screen-time. If I were to redo this movie I'd say you really don't need anyone but Amanda Waller, Harley Quinn, Deadshot, Captain Boomerang, Slipknot, and Diablo. I add Slipknot because you really can't do the Suicide Squad without his role in it.

I want that car for my wife.
    The Enchantress is a character who is generic and one-note as well as a problem created by Amanda Waller, which makes her look incompetent. I wasn't a big fan of Jared Leto as the Joker but if you're going to insert the Joker into the story, they should have outright made him the main bad guy.

    It's not like the Joker hasn't threatened whole cities before. Have him gas the city to become a bunch of psychotic marauders or steal a magic doo-dad. I don't care, just give us someone we'd actually want the Suicide Squad to play off of.

Yes, I'm quaking in my boots here.
    I don't normally lecture how movies should have been created because I think they should be judged on what they are rather than how they might be but this is where I make an exception. There's so much good which could have been done here that it's maddening it's all blown like a guy who folds on a royal flush or at least an inside straight.

    Watching this movie is like a checklist of scenes from movies I'd actually want to watch. Ben Affleck's Batman vs. Joker and Harley Quinn, in fact, is pretty much a better 20-minute movie than the rest of the film and probably something I'd prefer watching by itself.

    The movie knew they had an easy victory with Harley Quinn and if they'd done her as part of the aforementioned Batman movie, this probably would have been a really well-liked movie. Margot Robbie does the crazy, sexy, cutsie, tragic thing which is the hallmark of the character and something which should rightly be considered the best part of the film. Even so, the relationship with the Joker is lacking its usual abusive elements so you almost think the movie is trying to tell us she should be with Jared Leto's Joker rather than someone we should pity having fallen under his Manson-esque sway. Not cool movie, not cool at all.

Jared is more The Boss from Saints Row than the Joker.
    Despite this, I enjoyed Jared Leto's portrayal of the Joker even if it's not really any Joker I recognize. Eh, he's a character who constantly reinvents himself so perhaps it's easier to make that kind of acceptance. Jared's Joker is a kind of bizarre carnival version of Scarface who oozes sleaze and murderous intent.

After decades of the Joker being a serial killer as well as nihilist terrorist, I don't mind one who actually functions as a barely functional ultraviolence-prone crime boss. In fact, he reminds me a bit of how Alex from A Clockwork Orange might have grown up in the DCU and that's not too bad a thing. Even so, he's basically a massive dose of energy to the film which appears then quickly disappears.

Will, I don't buy you as Deadshot at all.
    Viola Davis and Will Smith are wasted in this movie as the former does the best Waller we've seen on screen yet while the latter really should have had a bigger character.

    Why isn't Will Smith the new Green Lantern? John Stewart would have been the perfect character for him and his smooth easy charisma fits the Justice League better than the cold-blooded psychopaths the Suicide Squad are supposed to be.

    The movie was clearly rewritten numerous times as there's several plotholes, scenes which don't connect clearly, and places where characters are encouraged to do things they've already done in the movie. I really think Warner Brothers needs to talk to their editor, writers, or both because the their stitching together of scenes are more Frankenstein than surgical. I suspect the movie was originally going to be far darker but they decided to accent on the comedy, only it's still pretty damn dark and not in a funny sort of Joker-esque way.

    The pop soundtrack is overused and it seems like they were trying to use music to provide a sense of energy which the film itself was lacking. It sometimes works but quite a few of the songs don't really go together well and I think they'd have done better to stick with a purely 80s collection of pop tunes. They do, admittedly, spruce up the action scenes which seem to lack the humor and spectacle which a Suicide Squad movie should have. This is the sort of movie where you need to believe a man with a boomerang can kill a bunch of Special Forces operatives.

Why am I not seeing this movie?
    Really, I'm rather annoyed that the most movie character in the film is Diablo. He's about the only person other than Harley who has anything approaching a character arc. His quietly subdued performance is more interesting than a lot of the major characters chewing the scenery and provides an emotional heart which Deadshot's character completely fails to achieve.

    Which actually gets to another problem of the film that it doesn't really know where to set up characters. Rick Flag and Diablo get a lot of character building when I think that should have better been used elsewhere. If anyone should have serious family issues and a story arc about redemption in a Suicide Squad movie then it should be Deadshot.

    Anyway, I've ripped on this movie enough. I think its extremely disappointing and I left the film feeling frustrated because there were a lot of parts which almost came together but fumbled before they could make a touchdown.



  1. Just think of Leto's Joker as a modern take on Cesar Romero's 60s TV show version. You know the "Clown Prince of Crime".

    Also does Captain Boomerang have a character in Suicide Squad other than massive douchebag? I mean it is kind of his role.

    Regarding a sequel and why the Justice League wouldn't handle it, three words: Nukes, Cheshire, Qurac.

    1. 1. I don't mind the sleazy Joker as I've mentioned. I object to any Joker which actually cares about Harley or has emotional vulnerability (save perhaps the Killing Joke) but he did an otherwise excellent job. The fact this Joker is into body modification doesn't bother me. I don't even mind the metal teeth because presumably Batfleck knocked the others out.

      2. Captain Boomerang's cowardice is fully intact and while he he could use a few more moments of it, he really is a massive self-interested tool.

      3. I always found it sad DC seemed more interested in Cheshire as Roy Harper's love interest than the complete psychopath in Birds of Prey and who nukes nations.

    2. 1. Think of it this way. Joker is just mad that someone else is possessing and manipulating his toy rather than himself.

      2.I watched the movie. He wasn't called out on it but yeah he was the most self - interested.

      3. True. I would also introduce HIVE and Queen Bee as Cheshire's backers.