Thursday, September 1, 2016

Suicide Squad—Rant and Spoilers

Don't you "puddin'" me!

No, seriously.  I’m not going to discuss Suicide Squad without sharing major, major, huge plot spoilers.  Pretty much every single one.  If you’re looking for a review to decide whether or not to see the movie . . . well, this one will certainly help, but you may want to look elsewhere.  I just have to rant to get this movie out of my head and express my disappointment.

So there.  I was disappointed.  You can take that to bank.

Caveat: I enjoyed the film and could probably watch it again. But I didn't love it, and I wouldn't really recommend it. There are some shining moments that were fun. The pacing was just enough that when I started to get bored it picked up and kept me reasonably interested. Some of the lines were terrible exposition, not even remotely reasonable even in a Hollywood action film. This was an ensemble character-based movie that doesn't know the meaning of the word "ensemble".  If you want to see Suicide Squad done right, rent or buy Batman: Assault on Arkham.

Alright, instead of going through the wet, hot mess of a plot, it will be easier to run through the list of characters which will quickly reveal the core problems:

Killer Croc—Why was he even in this? I mean, aside from being . . . well, somewhat big-looking and with reasonably great make-up (though his head seemed proportionally bigger than his body). Couldn't they use some camera trickery to make him appear 7 to 8 feet tall? He seemed slightly shorter than Deadshot. He mostly growls semi-intelligible lines, and the one place where he could have actually stood out—underwater—he does nothing but swim and then climbs back into the group. Maybe there's a cut scene where he fights some underwater dudes, saves the SEAL team and retrieves the explosive? Dunno.

Deadshot—Will Smith embraced his inner Will Smith, smarting off, but even then
Defining "hella cool" for a new generation.
some of his lines were such gibberish. It felt like they were using him for exposition that wasn't actually required because he was the biggest star in the film. I loved his backstory, which is pretty standard Will Smith fare, but par for the course in this movie. He's supposed to bring the entire team together, but he . . . doesn't. There's no point at which he is able to bond with really anyone which makes the entire idea of a "team" wholly contrived.

El Diablo—Despite being the most interesting, he also has very limited screen time and the strangest motivation at the end, talking about not losing his "new family" which they totally weren't. There was so little bonding, even evil villain-bonding, that I had no idea where he got the idea he had a new "family" that he needed to protect or that they would protect him.  Still, his final form was hella awesome.

Boomerang—This guy was the worst addition to the team. It was obvious that he was going to be used to prove the explosives in the team’s necks were real, ala Escape from New York, but other than that, he had very little in the way of expressed skills that couldn't be had from hiring a circus knife-thrower or letting the SEAL team be an actual SEAL team. The one time he's handy is his surveillance boomerang . . . which, umm, the government would have like eighteen different kinds of surveillance already on the ground, over the city, etc. He has a great scene toward the end when Flag breaks the phone, says they're free to go and he does! Awesome. Perfect for the character that "doesn't play well with others". Then, they ruined it.  For “reasons” he shows back up for the big throwdown with Enchantress and her Brother but does . . . what? I'm not sure.

Harley Quinn—I guess she's the breakout of the movie. She fights and gives reasons to include Jerod Leto's version of the Joker. But that's about it. She doesn't tear the team apart or bring it together. She says she’s crazy and a bad guy, but does very little to prove this.  She's just, well, there. She's great eye-candy, and I appreciate that she kicks a lot of ass, but there's nothing overly special about her that couldn't have been accomplished by any well-trained soldier. That said, I liked the Joker in this, he had great motivation for everything he does, and his sanity/insanity was fun.  He has one goal, and he doesn’t care who he has to kill, threaten, maim, kill or kill to accomplish it.

Her superpower is being Viola Davis.
Waller—Viola Davis is a complete and utterly believable badass with no superpowers whatsoever who is still a wholly scary character and possibly the most rounded in a movie that isn’t supposed to be about her. Contrasted with the insanity of the Joker, Waller is frightening. The Joker is motivated by his passion for Harley.  Waller is “fighting the good fight” for “national security”.  I loved every scene with her in it, even when silliness was going on around her, or she was spouting off some of the silliness herself. "They weren't cleared for this!" she says after she offs her entire communication team.  Errr, what? Still, cold-blooded ruthlessness which keeps the team in check is pretty believable, and liquidating an office of support staff goes a long way to proving her sincerity. I didn't need a reason for her to still be alive when she should have been dead. She's just that tough. I buy it!

Flag—Uggh. I so wanted to like him. Yet, his tactical skills are exactly as good as his leadership skills—non-existent. Research, people. Bring in an expert. There has to be a ba-jillion (I made that up) former military who could have made this guy really cool.  But at no time does he step up, apply his skills, give a grand speech or anything else that justifies his presence.  I guess there were two whole SEAL teams under his command, but they're so much lame cannon-fodder. Flag doesn't even do the love-appeal to Enchantress to bring her back or distract her or anything. He's just sad and sad through the whole film.

Katana—She has a katana. Hence her name. Her katana may or may not be scary. It captures souls. Are they tortured or add to her power or . . . anything? Dunno. She's a badass with a katana, which is nice I guess.

Which brings us to the “plot” of this mess—Enchantress and her Brother. Her Brother (I
The only character who actually makes sense is the insane one.
don't believe he was named) is scarily cool. She, on the other hand, is all over the place. Is she killing everyone?  Is she turning us all into an army of eyeball-things?  Is she going to make us worship her?  Meh. Doesn't matter. I don't see why her Iranian-binder trip puts away any opposition arguments for the big brass. Seems like that would make her even more of a risk. There's no proof that she's tamed, and in fact, every reason to believe she's not because, well, obviously she's not. She's not scary and her "machine" is a total MacGuffin. Great light show, and while she's "working" on it, she appeared to actually be dancing. But what was it going to do? Does she actually have to defend it in the final fight scene? Seems like once it was in motion, whatever it was going to do couldn't really be stopped by anyone who was left at that point. She could have just zapped off to Tahiti (it's a magical place) and game over. I was also deeply annoyed that we're explicitly told modern ordinance doesn't work against them . . . until it does. Apparently, demolition charges are made of magic explosives or fairy dust or something. The fight with El Diablo is hella cool, and would have made a great reveal for the character if I hadn't been so confused by his sudden motivation.

There seemed to be a movie within this movie that maybe is better explained by another movie. The motivations are horrible or non-existent, when there are so many opportunities for simple explanations. "Dude, we have explosives in our necks so let's go kick some ass and become a hella-cool crime-fighting team!" Hand-wave that away, but give me something.  There was nothing so special about the team that couldn't have been otherwise accomplished by non-explosives-in-the-body soldiers kicking ass and taking names as we've seen in so many other films.  There's some supernatural stuff, but that wasn't the team's goal.  There's the machine what does it do? Why should I care?  Why should anyone care.

The answer is you shouldn't.  See the movie if you want to.  It's fun.  But do not try to think at all while watching it.  You'll be as disappointed as I was.

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