Sunday, August 14, 2016

Suicide Squad (2016)

My 675th review: Suicide Squad.

Plot:In the aftermath of the events of Batman V Superman, intelligence operative Amanda Waller assembles a team of dangerous criminals - Harley Quinn, Deadshot, Killer Croc, El Diablo, Cpatain Bommerang, and Slipshot, and places them under the command of Colonel Flag. When a magical being called The Enchantress rebels against Waller and besieges Midway City with a horde of monsters and her brother Incubus to assist her, it's up to Waller's team to go on a suicide mission to save the day. 

When I left the movie theater after seeing Suicide Squad the first time, both my brother Johnathan and I agreed it was a fun mess. I had to watch the second time after having further discussion with Johnathan and concluded that this movie has a number of ups and downs similar to Man of Steel, but unlike Man of Steel this movie has enjoyable characters, music, and action (on occasion) while everything else it's considerably muddled.

The strongest aspect of this movie are the characters. I honestly expected that this move is going to focus almost no one but Deadshot and Harley Quinn just because Harley Quinn is one of the most famous female comic book characters out there and Deadshot is played by Will Smith. While it does turn out to be the case in the long run, there's still a serviceable amount of focus with the other characters of the Suicide Squad. The first 10 minutes or so of the movie is Amanda Waller telling us who each and every member is from their powers to their goals and so on and so forth. And I'm glad that they did that because it helped me get to know DC characters that I personally am not familiar with. That said however, the movie left out some members of the squad to show later in the story. Katana and Slipknot are forced in with less than a minute spent introducing Katana and no genuine introduction to Slipknot at all. I realize they did that because Katana isn't evil like the rest of the group and Slipnot doesn't have as big of a role, but it still feels awkward to spend so much time building up all of these characters and then as the big mission is about to begin they suddenly go "Oh yeah, by the way here's these two characters as well." But with that said, the characters are still fun. They may not be Marvel fun, but most of the characters like Harley and Deadshot have some funny moments. The soundtrack is also fun...even if it's obvious that they're taking the concept from Guardians of the Galaxy. Honestly, if you want Warner Bros. and DC to finally give us a movie where they make you laugh, this is it.

The relationships between the members of the Suicide Squad was done reasonably well. It's not as strong as teams like The Avengers are the Guardians of the Galaxy as it does have clunky moments with the development of relationships like Harley's relationship with the rest of the team, but to be fair this is a hard adaptation to do in one movie with so many characters. Frankly, I'm impressed that they handled the characters and their relationships as a team as well as they did. Will Smith brings the most humanity to the team as Deadshot as well has having some cool action moments. Margot Robbie is prefect as Harley Quinn. We may only see her in her original costume in one or two shots, but on performance alone there's little doubt that we're seeing Harley Quinn on the silver screen. She crazy, she's ditzy, she sexy, she's obsessed with the Joker, there's not a whole lot more we can ask for. Viola Davis was also nothing short of perfect as Amanda Waller. She's a controlling manipulative powerful woman that you do not want to get on her bad side. I also liked how we became better acquainted with DC characters that not many people know like Diablo and Katana. They may not have as much screen time, as Deadshot and Harley like I said, but there was enough attention that I remembered them.

Finally we have the most controversial casting - Jared Leto as the Joker. Honestly, he was a mixed bag. I think Jonathan said it best when he stated that they focused on the wrong aspects of addressing that The Joker is this crazy person to the point that he comes out more as a gangster rather as a super villain. In fact, given that Batman v Superman implied that he's already Batman's main arch enemy to the point that he already murdered Jason Todd aka the second Robin, it's hard to believe that this is the same guy when most of what we see is just him acting like a wild mob boss. Also, I've already seen mixed reaction to the fact that The Joker plays a very small role in the film. We see him in flashbacks that Harley has, but as far as the main story, he's a detached third party with his own agenda. On the one hand, there's people like Chris Stuckmann who were looking forward to this portrayal and wanted to see more, and part of me agrees because - again, I wanted to see more of The Joker as the super villain. But on the other hand, I'm glad that Joker has a small role because it shows that the filmmakers know that while he is one of the greatest villain of all time, the focus is what it should be - on Deadshot, Harley, Diablo and the rest of the Suicide Squad. All in all, I think Leto gave us a decent performance, but I want to see him do much more in future films. That said, I also liked the realtionship between Harley and The Joker. I like how Harley is madly in love with The Joker, but I especially like how even though The Joker loves her too, there are moments where he doesn't care about her well being. In the comics and the original animated series, The Joker and Harley have an abusive relationship to the point where sometimes The Joker would even try to kill Harley. I particularly enjoyed a moment about halfway into the movie where Harley has a flashback that shows both sides of Joker's feelings for her. I won't spoil it, but it definitely makes their relationship more accurate to how its portrayed in the tv show and comics.   

One of the real problems with the movie is the editing. The story as a whole sounds simple enough to get behind, but after watching the movie again, I realize that some of the exposition is missing. Between after introducing the characters to roughly before the Suicide Squad go out on their mission, there are some moments where I found myself asking "wait, how did we get from point A to point B?" with some of the characters. In fact after seeing both Suicide Squad and the ultimate cut for Batman v Superman (which I strongly recommend by the way), I found out that for both films the filmmakers decided to cut out certain scenes of exposition that are actually very important. The ultimate cut for Batman v Superman makes the movie so much more solid than the theatrical cut because it added scenes that explained moments in the plot that people were confused on. The movie still has problems, but with those extended scenes the ultimate cut further proves why I think Batman v Superman is a better film than most people give it credit for. With Suicide Squad, I realized that the same thing has happened here. I might not have noticed the first time I watched it, but after discussing it with my brother, Johnathan and then watching the movie again, I figure there must be at least 15-20 minutes worth of footage that they cut out that might contain some exposition that the film actually needs. Bottom line: here's hoping for an ultimate cut for Suicide Squad when it comes out on DVD and Blue-ray.

The second major problem is the villain. Now on the one hand, I liked that Warner Bros and DC are moving toward giving us villains that are forces of magic - specifically because now they're establishing how there's more to the world of DC besides just super powered people and some ordinary people in suits like Batman and Green Arrow. I also like how the relationship between Flag and The Enchantress displays that there's more at stake for one of the members of the squad besides simply defeating a metahuman (it's a DC universe term, it counts) who wants to destroy the world. That being said, Johnathan made a legitimate point when he told me that it actually doesn't make sense to have an all powerful magical being to be the villain for Suicide Squad. It looks cool that the Suicide Squad are going against a being like that, but it also makes the villain look stupid when she is fighting against a group where Diablo and Killer Croc are the only metahumans. Also the background for who The Enchantress and Incubus are and what powers they have is almost completely thrown out the window. We get that they're evil, immortal and want to destroy the world for revenge...and that's literally it. There's no explanation as to how they came to be thousands of years ago or how they were betrayed. Even their abilities seems to be lacking an identity. Like Incubus has this tentacle ability that's used to kill people. It seems unique, but there isn't really anything we really know about it apart from that it kills. Granted, not every superpower has to stand out as its own thing like The Force in Star Wars or the unforgivable curses in Harry Potter, but the powers the villains display in this movie are so glanced over that there's no wow factor or any emotion in general behind what we're seeing.

That's my review for Suicide Squad (trying to break the habit of starting a sentence with 'and'.) The story is muddled and has a lackluster villain despite some decent ideas behind it. But if you just want to see DC characters like Deadshot, Harley Quinn and Amanda Waller do their thing in their own movie with some okay action scenes and a few good laughs, you'll have a good time. It's sadly another mess from DC and Warner Bros, but it's an enjoyable mess.