Saturday, August 6, 2016

Review of Suicide Squad or How To (Almost) Get Away With Bad Filmmaking

When DC comic book fans were disappointed by Batman v. Superman:  Dawn of Justice, they were hoping the next movie, Suicide Squad, would be the one to get the DC-verse back on track and maybe make the MCU look over its shoulder.

That hope continued through Comic-Con and all the promos. If it's gotten to the point that super heroes are battling each other, maybe some villains can be cajoled into helping their fellow man. After all, they can rub it into the faces of the hero that's always bugging them.

Well, it worked as well as B v. S, sadly. Despite really good performances by Will Smith as Deadshot and Margot Robbie as Harley Quinn, Suicide Squad fell flat because, like B v. S, it was another prologue to the Justice League movie that's really the beginning of the DC-verse. For one thing, the crew faces a villain worse than Zod and Lex Luthor Being the Riddler, and it was sort of the fault of the person who organized the squad. It also inserts two heroes that are featured in the Justice League trailer.

Anyway, the squad is organized by Amanda Waller (Viola Davis), who thinks that the best way to deal with an evil Superman is recruit the worst villains to fight against this threat. Along with Deadshot and Quinn (who still misses her Mr. J, played by Jared Leto) the crew includes Captain Boomerang (Jai Courtney), Slipknot (Adam Beach), Diablo (Jay Hernandez), Killer Croc (Adewale Akinnouye-Agbaje),   Katana (Karen Fukuhara) and anthropologist Dr. June Moone, or rather the monster that possesses her, Enchantress (Cara Delevigne). The guy directing them on the ground is Rick Flagg, played by Joel Kinneman. He only thinks he's in charge.

Here's where Suicide Squad makes its big mistake.  Waller thinks she can control Enchantress by taking its heart, while Rick thinks he can do the same by loving the human side of her. That's how Waller can get Enchantress to take some key intel from Iran faster than Dr, Strange can travel through portals in his movie trailer. However, she double-crosses them both and revives her "brother." They plan to build a machine that would destroy mankind.
Sound familiar? It's the same Big Bad plan that Batman v. Superman had. It's less complex than Lex Luthor combining his DNA with the body of General Zod to create Apocalypse, but it shows a lack of imagination. Besides, her plan is mostly making soldiers easily broken by Harley's sweet swings with her bat, while dancing in one spot to make her machine like a showgirl. This movie didn't need her, or the romantic angle Waller sort of encouraged.

Waller should have been the Big Bad. It was her idea to create the squad, so have her create a problem to justify her idea and make sure no one knows. Then have the Joker make things more complicated by trying to take over the situation. This would have forced Harley to decide whether to stick with the squad, or go over to Joker...or maybe get him to help when things go really wrong. That would have made things better, just enough to give DC fans hope as we wait for Wonder Woman's movie to be shown.
And why shouldn't Waller be the Big Bad? Viola Davis shows she's about as ruthless as anyone, trying to make her own Injustice League. Still, you have to wonder if Annalise Keating could have done better.

Instead, we have the squad squabbling with each other as they get through the disaster Enchantress has started. In fact, we only get to see her destruction sparingly until the final act. There are pretty good moments, like Diablo explaining how his power has cost him too much, and Harley recalling how she jumped into a boiling vat to show her devotion to the Joker. That was a nice callback to the 1989  Batman movie.

The biggest crime is that the Joker doesn't play a major role. We see him be evil and nuts. Leto's performance takes a bit from Jack Nicholson and Heath Ledger's interpretations, but it's basically him being creepy. At least with Ledger, he went the extra mile because of the story. You think Leto will really make things interesting once he comes for Harley, but the story has other ideas. It may give Robbie a great opportunity to make Harley special by herself, but it ruined Leto's chance to show how special his Joker can be,

There are good parts in the movie, especially how the squad members are introduced. They also do a lot to show how Deadshot may be a very bad man, but he's also a loving father. It's because Will Smith plays him, and winds up being the most heroic of the bad guys. Maybe the Justice League will give him a call. You have to wonder if Deadshot would be darker if someone else played him.

Overall, DC fumbled again because Suicide Squad tried to be just like BvS only with bad guys and a Big Bad who was just like Apocalypse. Besides, couldn't Enchantress go all over the city to pick up parts for her Darkness Machine instead of having her "brother" do all the heavy lifting? If they took another route, like Waller causing the catastophe to justify the need for a Suicide Squad, it would have been better.

There is a post-credit scene that shows what the movie really is:  another prologue for the real start of the 'verse, the Justice League movie. At least all Marvel movies may be connected, but they are also their own stories. Warner Brothers and DC better figure that out fast, or the Guardians of the Galaxy will lap them twice.

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