Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Movie Review: SUICIDE SQUAD (Review #2)

Amanda Waller (Viola Davis) is convinced that after the arrival on earth of Superman and the discovery of meta-humans, the only way to fight the potential menace of the next threat is to assemble a team of the worst and most powerful criminals in custody and use them as, fittingly, a 'Suicide Squad'. That is when elements like Deadshot (Will Smith), the best killer on earth, and the mad Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie), amongst others, come in.

The reasons to be excited were many. For one, the premise and the way it was pitched by Ayer and Warner Bros. to the public sounded really intriguing. The end result is a totally messy film, falling short on many of its promises, a film which even in its ideological statement doesn't know what it's saying, yet has enough fresh material and good details to not prove to be the disaster it could seem.

What Ayer achieves here is managing to make many extravagant characters fit on screen. The fact of making this coherent is both a gargantuan task and one that isn't fulfilled by the movie, but we'll come back to that. You at least have to admire the bravery in trying to bring all of this craziness together and you do because when the film is working, it is working great. The problem is that tonal shifts happen so abruptly and so often there is simply no time to enjoy a film that I think, for the majority, is really enjoyable, but made less so, many, many times, by terrible pace, sloppy editing and again, tonal shifts that even make for unpleasant ideology at times.

The movie tries to be a serious drama, but its inner core, which is that of a black comedy, is so powerfully clear is struggles to get out and fails to be relevant. A part of this I have to admit has to be blamed on the unnecessary inclusion of the Joker character here. He is completely misused for many reasons, but the worst part is the fact that he takes away a big chunk of time from the flow of the film and disrupts the tone of it. Having a cameo would have been more than fine because he does work in the few flashback scenes he has, yet his integration into the plot is simply boring. Not to mention the fact that Leto's portrayal is absolutely out of control and does not leave you with anything consistent, proving that the Joker isn't just some mad idiot you pull off by playing crazy and laughing mad on screen. He is a deep character with a serious set of traits that has to be understood and studied.

Far less boring is his counterpart: Harley Quinn. Brilliantly portrayed by Margot Robbie, Harley represents everything about what is good in the film. The comedic undertones, the savage nature, the overall arc with the Squad and the chemistry with her companions, especially Will Smith. Those are all the elements that I really enjoyed and grasped from the film. Ayer had a real eye for detail and he managed to pepper the script with thousands of little touches that were gold character beats and proper development of story.

Yet then you are reminded of the plot going on and you can't help but frown. The villains in this film are pathetic, both in execution, but even worse in basic set-up. Did any one of the thousands of people reading the script wonder if another f***ing beam creating a portal into the sky was what we needed? And even worse, why is the Suicide Squad fighting such a threat in a world where Wonder Woman, Flash and Batman exist? It is beyond me. You had the possibility of doing something really fresh and new, lowering the stakes and making the character conflict come to the forefront and what we end up with is another beam in the sky? As much as I was enjoying the little moments, I just couldn't believe it. It took me out of the film too many times and the way the resolution works was probably the dullest element of it all, failing to make any of the characters relevant in the scenario...ahem..Captain Boomerang.

I was laughing and enjoying myself, and there was some real, clever and original banter going on. The sarcasm and dark nature of the characters was working brilliantly. Jai Courtney was stealing the show from Robbie and then Smith would come in and steal it from both of them. And then Amanda Plummer (minor spoiler) shoots four members of her staff. And then suddenly it is OK to be a assassin as long as you love your daughter. The thematic and ideological points are so chaotic I had no idea which way to tackle them.

Whilst a definite improvement over Snyder's underwhelming work in the DCEU and having some truly remarkable elements and redeemable qualities, Suicide Squad has too messy of a message and a story to really manage to be the fresh take it promised to deliver.

James's Score: 5/10

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