FILM: Suicide Squad


Certificate: 15
Running Time: 123 mins
Director: David Ayer
Starring: Will Smith, Margot Robbie, Jared Leto, Viola Davis
Genre: Superhero, Action
Country: USA

 

What if the next Superman wasn’t on our side?  It’s a simple pitch but one that, understandably, strikes fear into the upper echelons of U.S. military might.  Amanda Waller (Davis) has a plan, and the ten-ton balls to pull it off.  Gathering a ragtag group of America’s most violent, and dangerous criminals from a black hole site they’re offered time off their sentences for facing near certain death.

This is what happens when you don't vet your kids friends.
 

After the critical ass-pounding Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice took I was, understandably, sceptical of the whoopin’ Suicide Squad was enduring.  Over the last few years we’ve seen quite a few films of this genre take a beating leading me to believe that the cinema critics are more than a little out of touch, and that if their only frame of reference for “these films” is Marvel Studios then of course anything that deviates from the formula will be met with derision.  It explains the BvS reaction, the X-Men: Apocalypse reaction and the Fantastic Four reaction.  Say what you want, FF is a good movie.  A small, somewhat underwhelming movie sure, but good.

 

Going into Suicide Squad I had overdosed on the hype, watched the trailers the second they came out, and bought in to Ayer’s (End of Watch, Fury) vision.  The movie even started with great promise.  The comic book style in which Ayer introduces his anti-hero filthy half-dozen made me giddy with anticipation.  That giddiness levelled up to heart palpitations as Joker and Harley, in iconic tuxedo and harlequin outfit, ala Mad Love as an excited “holy shit they’re actually doing it” passed my lips.  I was all in by the time the Bat-Man glided down into the alley after Floyd Lawton (aka Deadshot).  The opening ten-to-fifteen minutes of Suicide Squad is like the greatest drug you’ll ever take.  It’s a fitting analogy, as with any drug there’s a come down and the higher the high, the greater the come down.  What followed was the come-down from hell.  At times incoherent, at others poorly paced, and altogether frustratingly beautiful.

I'm here to whoop ass and chew bubble-gum.
 

Let me go on record by stating something from the outset.  The cinematic trailer is a contract between film maker and audience.  You make promises based on the trailer, and when those promises are reneged on people get upset.  Robert Rodriguez gets this.  On an audio-commentary for From Dusk Till Dawn he spoke of having to rush back into the editing studio and put a line back into the movie after seeing a Studio approved trailer run during the Superbowl.  He, like me, hates when trailers are populated with unused footage.  This is, in essence, the story of Suicide Squad.  There are many iconic, awe-inspiring, high octane moments promised but so many of them are left behind on the cutting room floor… next to the narrative.  When the squad is sent out on their first mission it’s to rescue a HVT… or high value target… only the acronym is never explained.  As it turns out, spoiler, the HVT is Amanda Waller, Director of A.R.G.U.S and founder of the Squad itself.  It makes the whole world seem a little small.  In addition they’ve to try to stop Enchantress and her brother (who has no back story, no characterisation and no real screen time for you to buy him as a big bad) from doing something with something and creating a black tar pimple army or something and making the world sad.

 

What the actual fuck?!  This is not the movie the trailer promised me.  From the scenes in the trailer Suicide Squad looked like a daring rescue mission behind enemy lines.  The downed airplane cut next to a shot of Enchantress standing before the Executive Seal made me think of Escape From New York… how good would that have been?  Air Force One downed in Midway by someone like The Tattooed Man (seeing that Ayer is using tattoos as a motif), the Squad is assembled, Joker gets wind that POTUS is in play and thinks “what the hell, this could be fun” before going after him.  Then you have the Suicide Squad attempting to rescue the President of the United States from the clutches of not just Joker but also a powerful Metahuman who… just as they feared… isn’t acting in their interests!!

Iconic Joker moment from the trailer... shame it wasn't in the final movie
 

There is so much right with this movie that I almost need to watch it again to make sure I haven’t missed something vital as I have no idea how Ayer and co could go so far wrong.  Margot Robbie is perfect as Harley.  Sure, we rush through her backstory at a dissatisfying speed (I want more), but we can always come back to it.  Leto was interesting as the Joker.  He made some seriously incredible acting choices that really set him apart from those who came before him.  Will Smith is solid casting, Jai Courtney has never been better as Captain Boomerang (more Boomerang please!!), and Viola Davis demonstrates why she’s the baddest bitch in the DC Universe.  Yet we’re left with a movie that’s frustratingly less than the sum of its parts.  I will go and see Suicide Squad again.  It will make a ton of money and justify DC’s decision to put them up to bat (pun intended) third after Man of Steel, and Batman v Superman but in their quiet moments surely Geoff Johns, Zack Snyder and maybe even David Ayer will see it as a missed opportunity.  Our eyes now move to Wonder Woman, she carries the weight of the DC Cinematic Universe on her shoulders.

Good luck, Diana!



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