Friday, August 05, 2016

C’mon People, SUICIDE SQUAD Doesn’t Completely Suck!

Now playing at a multiplex near everyone:

SUICIDE SQUAD (Dir. David Ayer, 2016)

Upon leaving the screening for this film earlier this week, I wrote on my press comment card that it was “the best DC movie yet, but that’s not saying much.”

In the days since I’ve seen many variations on that line, so much so that it appears to be the consensus – go Google “better than BATMAN V SUPERMAN” and see what I mean.

Of course there are folks like this guy whose headline declares “Suicide Squad is worse than Batman v Superman. No, we didn't think it was possible either,” but I definitely enjoyed it a lot more than that monstrosity.

It’s not a great film for sure, but there are sections of it that work – the first 20 or so minutes, the set-up so to speak, hits the mark with slick, and funny intros to the main characters.

We meet the bleached white-skinned
, blue and pink tipped blonde, bright red lipsticked, crazy sexy cool Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie), the smooth, wise-cracking career hitman Deadshot (Will Smith); the fire-controlling ex-mobster El Diablo (Jay Hernandez); the reptilian cannibal Killer Croc (Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje) who’s the “Groot” of the group; and the Australian badass thief Boomerang (Jai Courtney), all behind bars for various crimes that we see in snazzy flashbacks.

Viola Davis plays Amanda Walker, a U.S. intelligence officer decides to assemble these dangerous supervillains (plus a late addition, Adam Beach as Slipknot) a into a black ops team for a top-secret mission that involves saving Midway City, which is basically Chicago, from the destructive forces of an ancient witch called Enchantress (Cara Delevingne).

The team is under the command of Joel Kinnaman (The Killing, House of Cards, the ROBOCOP reboot) as Col. Rick Flag, a character that dates back to the original “Suicide Squad” comics (I just read this online; I’ve never read the comic).

But I haven’t even gotten to the film’s juiciest element, Jared Leto as the Joker, whose look with his neon green hair and weird braces outraged fans when it first dropped online, but it worked well for me in the context of the movie’s aesthetics. Sadly, Leto’s Joker isn’t in much of the film, but he makes quite an impression – more so than Ben Affleck’s Batman cameo – and has electric chemistry with Robbie, whose Harley Quinn is the Joker’s girlfriend.

The movie gets messier as it goes on with the team trotting through Midway on their mission in a manner that recalls the similar scenarios of THE WARRIORS and ESCAPE FROM NEW YORK but with less of their classic gusto.

I feel like I did last summer when I bitched that the Adam Sandler movie PIXELS wasn’t as terrible as critics were saying it was (mind you, I still thought it was bad) when I write that SUICIDE SQUAD doesn’t completely suck, but I’m just being honest when I say I didn’t hate it.

Unsurprisingly, the parts that I liked were the ones that were most like Marvel, especially when it came to having more humor than their previous movies (MAN OF STEEL and BATMAN V SUPERMAN were as humorless as you can get). DC has their work cut out for them if they want to compete with Marvel’s incredibly successful business model but there are moments here that show that it may be possible someday.

David Ayer, who wrote the screenplay, is definitely a better director than Zach Snyder, but SUICIDE SQUAD is such a mismatch of different styles – sometimes it feels like the NATURAL BORN KILLERS of superhero movies – that he seems like he’s in way over his head.

I’ll still say it’s worth seeing as a matinee for Robbie, who doesn’t steal the film as much as owns it right off the bat, and Smith, who gets the lion’s share of the film’s laughs. I guess my expectations were low enough that I found some enjoyment out of this very mixed bag. If you go in like that, maybe you will too.

More later...

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