Monday, August 08, 2016

My Review of Suicide Squad (2016)

Written And Directed by David Ayer

Harley (to Flag): "We're bad guys. It's what we do."

I was hoping that after the serious divisiveness that Batman V. Superman: Dawn Of Justice generated that Suicide Squad would be somewhat immune to it. Things seemed good with the praises for the trailers but prior to the movie's release, some of the more negative criticisms emerged and I did worry that they might have impacted the movie badly. Fortunately that doesn't seem to be the case.

Not only has the movie had an impressive opening weekend for an August release, but the disconnect between critics and cinema goers continues apace as the reception between both is worlds apart. I'm not going to pretend this movie is a cinematic masterpiece but neither am I going to deny the fact that it's an absolute unbridled mix of chaos fun either.

The premise is simple and actually follows on the consequences of DCEU's previous entries with Amanda Waller (Viola Davis) wanting to assemble Taskforce X/Suicide Squad in the case the next Superman isn't quite as merciful and anyone who knows the tiniest bit about Waller will know that if she wants something, she'll do anything to get it.

The people in question for her little team include expert marksman Deadshot (Will Smith), former Arkham psychiatrist (and lover of the Joker), Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie), Aussie robber Captain Boomerang (Jai Courtney), Killer Croc (Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje), Slipknot (Adam Beach) as well as the rather fiery El Diablo (Jay Hernadez) with the rather militant soldier Rick Flag (Joel Kinnaman) and his own assassin, Katana (Karen Fukuhara) keeping an eye on them.

Of course the other member of this group was meant to be ancient witch Enchantress, currently in the body of Flag's archaeologist girlfriend June Moone (Cara Delevingne) but within the first half of the movie, Enchantress tires of being Amanda's puppet, unleashes her brother Incbus and together the two of them cook up a scheme to wipe out humanity once and for all and they would've gotten away with it if it hadn't been for that pesky squad of course.

The villains are a common problem with the DCEU movies if I'm being honest. While Enchantress is a bit of an improvement compared to this universe's depictions of Lex Luthor and Doomsday, her whole scheme feels rather underdeveloped and while her defeat comes at the hands of some genuine bad ass team moments with June actually surviving the events, it's a bit flat compared to everything else. Then again Flag and June's relationship is also pretty flat in this movie.

The best stuff about this movie are mainly our squad members to be honest. While Flag is somewhat a bland, ineffectual leader, compared to the more ruthless Waller (this is a woman who literally takes no shit from anyone and Viola Davis is amazing) and Slipknot is quickly killed off, everyone else is pretty much on point.

Captain Boomerang and Killer Croc are essentially comic relief but never in a way that it feels like either character is being demeaned while Katana doesn't say much but a fair amount on her backstory is revealed nonetheless. El Diablo is a man haunted by his past, spends most of the movie reluctant to fight before being goaded into it, is forced to confront his demons in a very telling scene with the gang before ultimately getting the heroic sacrifice by taking out Incubus for the gang. Needless to say that he was one of my favourite characters within the movie itself.

Then there's Deadshot. Will Smith can sometimes play himself in movies but this honestly didn't feel like that here. Deadshot has been a character I've grown to like in recent times (usually I've been meh on him) and in this movie, he was a far better leader of sorts than Flag could've been. I liked the exploration into his relationship with his daughter Zoe and his interactions with the rest of the gang (particularly Harley and Diablo) was nothing short of fun.

As for Harley Quinn herself - let's be honest, Margot Robbie owned the role. She was possibly the most perfect person cast for Harley and essentially she dominates this movie from start to finish. This is her movie and regardless of your stance on this film as a whole, you're gonna want to see more of Robbie in the role and in other movies and more than likely, that's exactly what's going to happen.

Harley's onscreen depiction might not be the sort of thing that will please Tumblr feminists but neither is it anywhere as problematic as they would claim it to be. I won't deny that there's a certain emphasis on the character's sexuality but at the same time there is an effort to give Harley (as well as Waller) enough agency as a character too, which the movie succeeds in doing.

Her relationship with the Joker (Jared Leto) forms a subplot in the movie. His role here is to basically expand on Harleen's backstory and nothing more. Some of the darker elements of their union are played down a bit and there's a merging of both her Mad Love and New 52 backstories (with a little twist) but essentially, this is a consistent depiction of the character and that relationship. It's hard to gauge Leto's version of the Joker but he's okay enough in the role for now. Another movie where he'll have a bigger role will determine whether or not he's truly suited for the role though.

Coming away from the movie, the four favourites for me were Harley, Deadshot, Waller and El Diablo. They're the most developed and engaging of characters with Robbie, Smith, Davis and Hernadez delivering some truly stunning performances though no-one slouches too badly here.

- As for the cameo appearances from the heroes, both Batman (Ben Affleck) and The Flash (Ezra Miller) are sublime onscreen and used appropriately in the right places here.
- The mid-credit scene perfectly sets up Justice League, even though Wonder Woman will be the next movie we'll see here.
- There are some truly fun Easter Eggs to spot in this movie ranging from the comics and other related media. Have fun spotting them.
- The soundtrack is also one of the best with the likes of Heathens, Gangsta, Without Me, Bohemian Rhapsody being some of the highlights. Music is certainly a strong point along with the colourful opening and closing credits.

Suicide Squad isn't going to go down as a masterpiece but it's a promising step in the right direction for the DCEU movie universe and it's certainly a lot of fun. This lot may be the bad guys but rooting for them wasn't that hard and I certainly came away from this movie rather pleased with what I had seen.

Rating: 8 out of 10

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