Saturday, August 27, 2016

Suicide Squad Review

Suicide Squad
Director: David Ayer
Cast Headliners: Will Smith, Margot Robbie, Viola Davis, Jared Leto, many others

Original Release Date : August 5th, 2016
   ( NOTE: Over 3 weeks after release … oh my goodness so late. I apologize, life's been wacky of late...but definitely wanted to get my thoughts in on this important step in the DC verse).

The new DC film universe has been, to say the least, a less than perfect attempt to emulate what so many other franchises are doing and mix its heroes. While the general public and the big comic fans may be well used to and excited for the idea of the foundations of the Justice League to be set, the execution is not tonally right on the mark. The previous two DC films, directed by Zack Snyder, have been received in varying ways, with his take that is simultaneously philosophical and larger than life not creating a fan out of everyone. Suicide Squad is the first movie both without Snyder in the director's seat (instead with Fury's David Ayer at the helm) and for the most part moving the focus from Batman and Superman to something theoretically fresh: antihero supervillians. Here's how it turned out.
The film takes place in the aftermath of Batman V Superman, an aspect which is smartly used as an initial root cause for its events but otherwise is not mentioned very much. Government official Amanda Waller(Viola Davis) seeks to create Task Force X, also known as the “Suicide Squad” of supervillians to do black ops missions or tackle potential Superman-level threats. The team consists of assassin for hire Deadshot(Will Smith), clown maniac punk Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie) girlfriend of the not-in-the-team the Joker (Jared Leto), beastly Killer Croc (Adewale Akinnouye-Agbaje), wisecraking Aussie thief Captain Boomerang (Jai Courtney), fire powered gangster El Diablo (Jay Hernandez), and rope expert Slipknot (Adam Beach). They are supported by the government affiliated expert soldier Rick Flagg( Joel Kinnaman), Japanese swordswoman Katana( Karen Fukuhara), and dark witch Enchantress(Caradelevingine).
It's a film that features DC's largest “ensemble” of characters to date, and perhaps even moreso than many other films. It feels in a way like something such as The Dirty Dozen or The Expendables or the newest Fast and Furious films, though its much more the latter two than the first one in quality. There's a lot of characters and some shine but others fade in the grand tapestry of things . Will Smith and Margot Robbie have had increasingly profilic careers as of late and been alongside each other before, and so it makes sense that they are the mostly shining stars of the picture. Smith's Deadshot is as solidly funny, slickly cool, and even has a slight bit of the charm and emotional heart of Smith's past work. His smartass attitude often delights and makes it the best “Will Smith movie” in years. Robbie's Harley Quinn is as great or possibly even the film's best. She very effectively captures the classic comic charm and manages to certainly make her manic character feel right from the pages. Her design might not be 100% accurate but besides the main heroes of Batman/Superman little is but in terms of personality and dark laughs she carries the show. Perhaps even moreso than her “Mista J” connected to her origin.
Whenever the Joker is in anything its a big deal, and each actor brings something a little new. Jared Leto's performance as the Clown Prince of Crime is very much a mashup of Jack Nicholson's and Heath Ledger's evoking their style but far from their heights with some Jim Carrey's The Mask thrown as well. Take those and add in a “realistic” menacing gang lord angle, and it' interesting take. There are moments which deliver on the Joker mania box. But for someone so connected to Harley Quinn, he and Robbie have some decent moments that fall victim to editing. His appearances are far less than trailers imply, and are mostly restricted to flashbacks which apparently are mostly victim to the cutting room floor. It's an unfortunate trend in Hollywood lately, but while the edits are obvious it does give an reason not to entirely dismiss this Joker. We need to see more, and one will kind of want to since while he doesn't make an impression, one think he maybe can more if he gets to do some more with Batman (There may be at least one appearance by Ben Affleck in this film, short but sweet..)
The other characters are at most decent. Davis' Waller is greatly fierce and at home from the classic media if expected. Kinnaman's Flagg much the same, offering his own source of humor in his seriousness. Characters like Slipknot, Croc, Boomerang, and Katana exist merely for a cool moment or joke but fade to the background. Its surprising that Hernandez's El Diablo has qualities that rival Deadshot's for humor and emotion, making him one of the film's unexpected standouts as well. The villain's identity is an obvious hint, but they are nothing more than a generic evil. The film bills itself as “ the worst heroes ever”, but they are not all the way the best worst heroes with those afromented exceptions althouth the movie makes good use of the dark, edgy villian angle for some lines and themes.
The ingredients are there for what should be some dark cheesy fun but it is prevented from being something greatly unique by its own unique issues. Characters aside, the plot is very simple and very silly. The reason things happen make Snyder's film look like Nolan's when it come's to the way events narratively unfold. The movie also attempts to make use of pop and rock songs to ironically lighten the mood, but it worked so well in Guardians of the Galaxy (an obvious inspiration) because of its placement and balance. Here it feels like someone left an iTunes playlist covering the remnants of what could have been a great movie. Because Ayer's direction can be felt from the visual shots and really fun great action when there isn't some often sub-quality dialogue and pacing at play.

This movie has taken many elements and thrown them into a blender, but it is prevented from execution on what is objectively a good idea of anti-heroes form the comics from some questionable editing and studio involvement. It's great to see these characters for the most part make their debut into this new DC universe, but it's not too surprising of an adventure they have to undergo. But the good is good, and the potential is felt that maybe they could be better used someday... hopefully. A DC or superhero blockbuster fan will certainly have their fun though for better or worse. 7.95 out of 10