Suicide Squad – A Review

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It’s been a long damn while since I wrote a review of any stripe so what better way to get back in to the swing of things than with a movie that’s made a shit tonne of cash and has been universally panned by movie critics.

The first thing you need to remember about movie critics are they usually have an agenda. The second thing you need to remember about movie critics is that they are usually not the target demographic for comic book movies.
The third thing you need to remember about movie critics is that an awful lot of them are fuckheads.

For those not up on their Batman, Suicide Squad follows the exploits of a group of super villains press ganged into service by a secret government agency called Argus. They have the pleausre of carrying out the most dangerous and most unpalitable missions with little or no chance of survival. Should they survive they get 10 years knocked off their sentence.

For many, they’re serving multiple life sentences which rather incentivises them to keep going on missions.

Fail the mission – they die.
Disobey an order – they die.
Try to escape – they die.
Complete the mission but don’t get out in time – they die.

Being a member of the Suicide Squad does not equal happyfuntimes.

The movie is (sort of) based on the Nightshade Odyssey from 1988. A slightly odd choice considering the more recent story lines but considering Batman vs Superman borrowed heavily from Frank Miller’s non-canonical The Dark Knight Returns from around the same time, it kinda ties in. But not really.

In this story the Suicide Squad is sent in to stop Enchantress (who isn’t really Enchantress) from destroying all technology in the world. The dirty bastards tried to hit us right in the iPhones.

In reality, as per the Nightshade Odyssey, it’s actually the Succubus and her brother the Incubus melting shit and turning people into weird zombie…things.

Presumably the introduction of all powerful trans-dimensional beings will have a later purpose. Otherwise it’s something of a waste.

What also went to waste was the budget. At least as far as their scenes were concerned. They did their best but they were painfully CGI, really lacking the spit and polish from its older brothers or, dare I say it, Marvel.

However, kudos goes to the animators for how the Incubus’ powers melted shit, that was way cool. The Enchantress was also superbly animated, the ethereal energy in her eyes and the cinders swirling round her was awesome.

Broadly speaking I thought Cara Delevingne did a pretty good job considering she was made to do most of her acting via her chest.

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BOOBS!

That’s not a sexism thing, it’s the truth. As the Enchantress she was wearing a padded bra that was a size too small. As Succubus she had more tit-tape going on than a Kylie Minogue calendar. Not a complaint, just an observation.

In this interpretation of the Suicide Squad the lineup is similar to the DC animated movie, Assault on Arkham. Deadshot, Harley Quinn, Captain Boomerang all make an appearance with the additions of Killer Croc, Katana and Diablo.

The former two are notable played by Will Smith and Margot Robbie. If you haven’t heard of either of them you sicken me. Google them.

The rest of the cast is made up of stars of greater or lesser import but frankly no one cares. Their performances are fine, apart from Killer Croc. He was rubbish. But he was rubbish because his script was rubbish. His dialogue was borderline racist and his voice was absurd. The writer and director also somewhat failed to understand the psyche shredding devolution Croc was going through.

Whilst Will Smith was fine I didn’t feel his performance warranted a big song and dance. He does the tragic character very well and has done in a number of movies in the past. If his characters from I am Legend and Bad Boys had a baby it would be Deadshot. Weird but accurate.

The shower stealer was Margot Robbie. Shocker right? Yes she’s gorgeous, yes she has a great body and yes she squeezes into the shortest sequin shorts (try saying that hammered) this side of my pubescent wank bank, but genuinely she absolutely nails it.

Margot Robbie did a lot of research into her character, far more than anyone else I would wager and it shows. The voice, the behaviour and mannerisms all scream of the fucked up little former therapist we all know and love.

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She be crazy. For Reals.

There were lots of references to the animated series and the comics for Miss Robbie to play with which she did with great abandon. To the director’s credit there was a few references to one of the most iconic Joker orientated comics which made me smile.

Margot Robbie seems to totally understand that Harley Quinn’s character from the the dead pan humour to her explosive temper, particularly towards the Bat (who makes a couple of welcome appearances) because she’s trying to do everything she can to win not just the Joker’s attention but affection.

If only the writers and director knew this or gave a shit. Because unfortunately the subplot was the Joker trying to get back his main squeeze. Which rang really hollow. Really hollow.

I’ve read a lot of Batman comics and whilst the Joker doesn’t like people messing with his girl or, heave forbid his girl wanting to mess with anyone else, it isn’t because he loves her. It’s because he gets off on the power and control he has over her, all the while making every effort to get the Bat’s attention and (dare I say it) love.

Which brings me on to the Joker himself. God I wanted to like the Jared Leto’s performance. I really did. But it was, frankly, a bit shit. Again, rather let down by second rate writing presumably because (between Zack Snyder being a fucktard and Marvel nicking all the good ones) they were the only ones willing to work on the project.

The look of the Joker was stupid. The metal teeth make him look like a boxer that’s taken one too many shots to the mouth. Whilst I suspect it’s meant to represent all the run-ins with B-man over the years, it just doesn’t work because he looks so puffy lipped the whole time. The stupid, 1980s bling (that’s actually rife in the movie) and his portrayal of a spoilt child doesn’t do the character justice.

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Say ‘cheese’!

Don’t get me wrong, Leto did a better job of communicating the Joker’s sociopathy and penchant for extreme violence than the late Heath Ledger in the Dark Knight.

I say this because whilst Heath Ledger was brilliant as a super villain, I never felt like he understood the unbridled delight the Joker took from inflicting harm and chaos on others. I know it’s not a popular view so please save your scathing comments.

I would argue it’s almost sexual for the Joker, especially when it comes to attracting Batman’s attention. So in that respect, Leto was closer to the mark. But as usual Hollywood by design or by accident fails to understand the differences between a psychopath and a sociopath.

Leto’s efforts to convey the Joker’s menace never finds purchase. He just spends of the time looking weird. Because most of the film is set at night, his metal teeth are swamped in the gloom and so his howling mania makes him look like an old albino man who’s been smacked in the mouth.

The movie has been criticised for being a discordant mess. I agree with this but for two fairly divergent reasons.

On the one hand it’s evident that the studio fucked around with the movie. Whether it was to make it more violent or make it funnier (reports vary) it is noticeable at times. That said, the humour works. The violence works.

Even the violence erupts at different times in different ways. When Diablo lets loose (my stand out male performance purely because it was so understated), the extremity of the violence is only moderated by the wise crack that immediately follows it.

It reminds me of progressive rock. At times a big hideous mess, at times musical genius and overall it just works.

On the other hand, this movie is not a super hero movie. It’s a super villain movie. These guys (and gals) are arseholes. They’re selfish, sociopathic (or psychopathic), damaged, disturbed, twisted, narcissistic tossburgers.

It’s not the Avengers. It’s not all buddy buddy or the coming together for the greater good. They’re in it because they have to be. They literally have no choice. So the disharmony, the out of tune nature of the movie actually works. Whether it was meant to or not is another story.

For all my criticisms, Suicide Squad is actually a good movie. It has flaws. Big glaring flaws. It has ropey performances and forgettable performances. It has one annoying performance. It also has a couple of great performances. They don’t carry the movie but they do make me forgive a lot.

More than anything it’s just a bloody good romp. And the soundtrack is just superb. Whilst I won’t pretend they didn’t pick a couple of the same tracks used in Guardians of the Galaxy I’m glad they did. One, because they were great song choices and two, it’s a movie about scoundrels and thieves.

I think DC is getting slapped around unfairly by a lot of people right now but if we cast our minds back to the first three movies of the MCU – Iron Man, The Incredible Hulk, Iron Man 2, I would argue DC are on a similar trajectory.

They’re finding their feet and whilst they should have turned up to the party loooooong ago I say let’s be grateful they’ve shown up now.

For all the things wrong with Suicide Squad, for all the blatant errors in Batman vs Superman, I’m excited for what DC and Warner has in store for us. I’m especially excited about the Wonder Woman movie, no not like that. Okay a little like that.

I’m also excited about Geoff Johns and Jon Berg heading up DC Movies because, frankly, Snyder can fuck right off. And seeing as these two chaps are involved in Wonder Woman, it fills me with a lot of hope.

Go see Suicide Squad, it does exactly what the comic was always about – provide fantastic, eccentric, albeit violent, entertainment. You’ll get a couple of really rewarding scenes and performances for your trouble.

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