Friday, June 16, 2017

Suicide Squad

Now right up front I was not happy going to see this flick, the third of the DC Comics Extended Universe after Man of Steel and Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice.  After them, I figured it could only get worse, a point that has since been reversed by the vastly superior Wonder Woman.  But Suicide Squad?  I didn't even have invested interest in the comics. 

I have read the Suicide Squad here and there, even seen them on TV.  I knew the characters and the motives but it never really rang any bells for me.  Mind you, no offense meant to the work of John Ostrander, he's a genius, and the stories were good, just not in my wheelhouse is all.  Of course it seems only a few things from the comics of the time made it to the screen. 

The concept is here.  Super-villains offered time off sentence for doing the dirty jobs the superheroes can't do, and a few of the characters are here, but others that just seem odd.  Some are originals from the comics I remember, some from the newest iteration, and some from left field.  All are still from Belle Reve prison (I have some question on the proper pronunciation of that, but I'll let it go) and all still manipulated by Amanda Waller, though much thinner. 

There's Will Smith's Deadshot, who like co-star Margot Robbie, is simply electric when onscreen. He's a family man driven to crime and put away by the Batman.  He's got a moral code, but is still a criminal, we feel for him.  He might just be the sanest of the bunch, a great counterpoint to his co-star and glory hog (not that that is a bad thing) in this flick, Harley Quinn. 

I have never been a big fan of Harley outside of her original source material in "Batman The Animated Series," so I'm not down with the New 52 slutty stripper version.  Give me the jester outfit and the Mark Hamill Joker any day of the week.  This version, while charismatic and making love to the camera like crazy town, is slavishly dedicated to her Joker, who I'll get to in a minute.  She's good, and Robbie is terrific in the role, but there's a better Harley that could've been portrayed here, ya know?  She's also stolen the movie, in that, other than the New 52, Harley is not even a character I associate with Suicide Squad.  It feels mismatched.

Waller, played with skill by The Help's Viola Davis, at a discreet government meeting introduces her idea for this team, and in simplistic flashback method to each character.  It's easy, and it works.  We see in vignettes Deadshot in action and apprehended by the Batman, the origin of Harley Quinn as well as verification she may have murdered Robin as seen in BvS, Captain Boomerang captured by the seen but unnamed Flash, and much shorter ones with El Diablo, Killer Croc, and the Enchantress.

Waller describes a nearly fully formed world of metahumans just beneath the headlines, just waiting for others like the now deceased Superman and the Bat to open the gateway to public acknowledgement.  Whereas Marvel built their movie world, DC's was already there, waiting to be revealed.  We're twenty minutes in and we know the players, the world, and getting a good vibe on the plot - ain't nothing wrong with that. 

The Harley sequence includes a chase through Gotham from Batman, once again more than ably portrayed by Ben Affleck, and far too much of the Jared Leto Joker.  This tattooed metal-grilled psychopath is very scary, but, I'll say it, he's no Joker.  And I don't think the filmmakers thought so either, because his entire subplot fizzles as if it didn't exist - it certainly doesn't matter in the course of the film - why is he here?  I would have rathered a tetherless Harley than this substandard Joker wannabe waiting in the wings for a payoff that never really comes. 

The Enchantress, an extradimensional entity that possesses June Moone is said by Waller to be the most powerful metahuman she's catalogued. She has a brother, named Incubus, trapped in a jar, and that's where it gets crazy.  Waller has her heart, and June is in love with Rick Flagg, a special operative with ARGUS and under Walker's command. 

Flagg is played by Joel Kinnaman, not the first choice for the role, but one of my favorite actors.  I loved him in "The Killing," but not here, here he is a disappointment, and apparently a one note actor.  It's a shame, along with Leto's Joker, they're among the worst things in this otherwise entertaining flick. 

When Midway City (love the shoutout to Hawkman's hometown) is under attack by the Enchantress and her brother the Incubus, the Squad is gathered, and sent onsite, with super heroine Katana added almost as an afterthought.  Again, almost casually the fact that her sword drinks souls is thrown out there as if that kind of thing happens everyday.

Once on the ground, it becomes a mission movie and we get to see the villains interact, and fight the badder guys.  Of course around now the producers seem to forget half the team is there and it becomes about Deadshot, Harley, and Flagg, and unfortunately and pointlessly, the Joker - the threat that never actually manifests.  Boomerang, who in the comics is, along with Deadshot, Enchantress, and Flagg, the only recognizable Squad members, is hardly in this, and barely acts like his source material. 

The ending however turns into another mess like Man of Steel with weird streams of blue light in the sky.  Other than that silliness this was good, it's true, Suicide Squad was good, and the battle at the end is the type we want all metahuman brawls to be like, especially on the big screen.  Victorious and tragic at once, this was a winner. 

Up until a few weeks ago, with the debut of Wonder Woman, this was the best of the DC films.  I don't know what all the haters are on about, I dug Suicide Squad

1 comment:

  1. I'm right there with you, Glenn; this is a fun movie from start to finish!