Sunday, August 21, 2016

Suicide Squad: Review

Twenty minutes into Suicide Squad, I was laughing. It wasn’t at Jared Leto, who tries so hard to appear unhinged it’s just uncomfortable. It wasn’t at Will Smith either, who can’t seem to get the trickster out of his voice even when he’s playing a hard-as-nails hitman. What was cracking me up instead was the soundtrack. Not since Goodfellas has a Hollywood film had such a high song-per-scene ratio, but at least there was a thematic unity to the tracks in that film. This one just careens all over the place—Creedence Clearwater Revival one minute, Kanye West the next.

After Batman V Superman: Dawn Of Justice, one might say DC owed the movie-going public one. That apology must still be on the way, for Suicide Squad is, if anything, more ridiculous and illogical and thoughtlessly violent than Zack Snyder’s film. Perhaps the idea was to create DC’s own group of disaffected heroes to rival Marvel’s Guardians Of The Galaxy, only more violent and profane. Then, in February, the Deadpool movie that couldn’t get made for years released, was a monster hit and left DC looking like it had come late to the R-rated party.

With Superman dead at the end of Dawn Of Justice, government operative Amanda Waller (Viola Davis) is on the lookout for other meta-humans to help fight humankind’s battles. Using June Moone (Cara Delevingne), a doctor inhabited by a witch (“The Enchantress”), to scare the authorities, she gets the sanction to put together a team of bad people who “could do some good”: Deadshot (Smith); Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie), certifiably insane and in love with Leto’s Joker, who is on the loose; El Diablo (Jay Hernandez), who shoots fire when he’s in the mood; Captain Boomerang (Jai Courtney), who has some talent that’s never made clear; Slipknot (Adam Beach), who climbs things; and Killer Croc (Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje), who’s exactly what he sounds like. They’re put under the command of army colonel Rick Flag (Joel Kinnaman), who is in love with June (when she’s not all witchy). If all this isn’t far-out enough, Waller has put little bombs in the heads of all the squad members, in case they refuse whatever mission she has in mind.

The irony in all this is that the only enemy that these lowlifes battle in the whole movie is one that Waller is at least partly responsible for. Around the same time the Squad is formed, The Enchantress takes over June, who is joined by her brother, Incubus. They set about building some world-destroying weapon, and it’s up to the very-bad-but-really-not-so-bad team to stop them. Suicide Squad is a comic book version of The Dirty Dozen, but there’s a key difference between the two films. The Dozen never stop being dirty—they’re mean and ornery and calculating to the bitter end. The Squad members, on the other hand, soften as the film progresses, culminating in a scene where they seem to grow a collective conscience.

It isn’t just the celebration of casual violence, or the uneasy marriage of a gritty real-world aesthetic with comic book rules (characters walk away from helicopter crashes like they fell off a bicycle). Suicide Squad also brings back the days of Princess Leia in a gold bikini, costuming Delevingne in something resembling a belly dancer’s attire and Robbie in a tight T-shirt and tighter shorts. It’s depressing to see Robbie ogled at and paired with the laboured, indescribably weird Leto, because her comic touch is bright and quick. I would look forward to seeing Harley Quinn again, in more comfortable clothes and without The Joker or the rest of the Squad.

This review appeared in Mint.

No comments: