Ha! Ha! Huh! Hum?…
The above title should be cry of the ‘Brand’ spanking new turn of the Joker & Co. in David Ayer’s supposedly naughty by nature team of miscreants collectively known as the ‘Suicide Squad’ (2016).
Whilst we all eagerly lined up after a multitude of ever tone morphing series of advertisements and rewrites/new scenes that equated to an infinite focused grouped American election campaign trail. And my the promises that were made along that journey, the hope, the belief, the expectations, the carnage. It was Super Obama all over again, YES WE CAN!* (*sorta). Personality winning over ability. We waited to be gleefully/willingly spanked and ended up with a cheeky fumble behind the bike shed.
And once the vote was in… RELEASE THE DEFLATION! The cackle of early screenings reviews grew to a wail, a war cry, and swiftly a global enchantress hunt, or at the very least ALOT of individuals bashing the keyboard red button of global thermonuclear global domination with such rage that it was like a Whac-A-Mole massacre in their very own War (bed)Room.
And quite honestly the movie doesn’t deserve such wrath. It’s absolutely not the cocky arrogant, in your face dangerous brat that it thinks it is (or we hoped it was), and therein lies it’s absolute flaw. If you’re walking around calling yourself the ‘Suicide Squad’, placed in a position of nothing to lose for yourself, it should sort of fell like you’ve just stepped on a land mine of a movie, it’s the last thing you’ll ever see, but what rush, what a blast, cinema heaven here I come. It should feel like your life flashing before your very eyes, like the last manic rush cry of Major Kong waving his cowboy hat riding the A-bomb in Dr. Strangelove, rather than it doesn’t matter what wire you cut to defuse the bomb, they’ll all work.
As guilty of it’s own (marketing) confidence that it is, there is plenty to like in this first foray. The initial set up of what if Superman had gone rogue, maybe we need a Super defence plan and introductions to the team is very playful/manic fun though adhering to name positioning on the movie poster in the time given to the back story of each character, meaning to an extent this is a Will Smith (Deadshot) movie, which is fine as he’s really good, though not doing anything that he’s never done before which is unfortunate.
The absolute stand out for me though is Margot Robbie (Harley Quinn) who siren like entices you into giggly antihalation every time she skips into frame swinging a baseball bat like an majorette on crack, she will make sure you die laughing. While you are busy ogling her shorts, she has batted your skull out of the park for a home (or bank) run.
Harley is both the love interest and creation of the Joker, this time around played by the somewhat talented Jared Leto. Their moments together are by far some of the most successful elements in their beautifully warped Rom-Com of death, destruction and beautiful chaos. Bringing to the table the same method acting that made his Oscar winning performance in ‘Dallas Buyers Club’ (2013), Leto apparently REALLY irked Will Smith on set (Leto was never out of character), there are brief moments of excellence, but he’s so fleeting in the movie that it’s unfair to cast any real judgement, I’m not sure what the baby grows laid out on the floor amongst his knife collection were supposed to represent though.
Then we have all the other members, again to varying extents depended on billing position, bringing their various skill bases/quirks/havoc to Team Nefarious as they are forced to collude to battle the somewhat fortuitous arrival of New Super Demon On The Block doing a Don’t Mess With Black Magic Kids reunion tour. Coercing this enterprise is the U.S. Intelligence officer Amanda Waller (the excellent Viola Davis) who I’m pretty sure is the most dangerous thing on the screen, her looks are nuclear.
The entire cast turned up to the screening we went to which obviously brought another level of excitement to the show. David Ayer rightfully defended the movie that he and the cast made against the rise of negative press. They clearly believed they made something they believed in and gave 100% commitment to on every level. Though after the cheers subside the drunken hazy glow of stardom drifts away and the harsh lights come on after the end of the disco.
The movie is very well made, looks brilliant (has echoes of Escape From New York and Warriors), there are some great performances, great lines and moments of beautiful frenzy. But there are also moments with equally dire traits (lines, idiotic exposition). Is the annihilation of Mankind at the behest of an entity that thinks it’s at a night club (that deliberately will only make sense when you see it) and wiping us out with some evil sashaying. I’m okay with being led to my death that way in real life, but not in my movies. There are issues with pacing, character development and just the lack of anything really beyond the pale, and of course having such a title exposes these flaws exponentially, the soundtrack shouldn’t be the only killer thing about a movie called ‘Suicide Squad’.
Much like the ridiculous criticism that haunted ‘Ghostbusters’ (which I bloody LOVED), there are emotional wails being thrown at this movie. Some valid, most not. It’s great fun, and really enjoyable if you can leave your issues in the refreshment lobby.
It’s entertainment and it does this very well. It’s also pretty clear that it has been toned down for violence and blood/swearing etc, which does lead to the belief that the R rated Deadpoolesque version does exist somewhere on the Warner Bros hard drive and will be released on blu-ray in a few months. Hopefully this is the case, but it does make you wonder (other than financially exploiting the audience) why that wasn’t the theatrical release.
‘Suicide Squad’ is out now.