Saturday, August 6, 2016

Suicide Squad

Intelligence operative Amanda Waller assembles a team of criminals including Harley Quinn, Deadshot, Boomerang, El Diablo, Killer Croc, Slipknot, and the Enchantress to combat inhuman foes. The Enchantress is more powerful than she imagined and manages to escape, free her brother, and start building a machine to take over the world. Can this rag tag team of criminals band together to stop the world from ending?

I had a lot of doubts going into to seeing Suicide Squad, especially in the way the women were portrayed. However, the film had a lot of problems but managed to be enjoyable. I'll start with the things it did well. The female characters are surprisingly well rendered for the most part. Viola Davis as Amanda Waller knocks it out of the park. She's kind of an antihero herself, just on the other side of the law as the criminals she commands. Not afraid to get her hands dirty, she threatens and carries out those threats herself. She does whatever is needed to carry out her goals for the greater good. Almost everyone hated her, but she undeniably got shit done and didn't flinch even in the most dire situations. Katana is also an interesting character whose ultimate goal is to take revenge for her husband's death. His soul lies in her sword and she steals the souls of those she kills. I wish she had more to do with the film, but what little she did was intriguing.

Harley Quinn is one of my favorite DC characters ever since I saw her in Batman: The Animated Series. This is the first major live action rendering of her and, save for her poorly chosen outfit, it's a decent debut. Her origin and history with the Joke, her Puddin', are shown in flashbacks. Although the Joker drove her mad and made her jump into a vat of chemicals, she's crazy and tough on her own. One of my favorite scenes of her was when she was drowning, trapped in a car underwater and still lashed out at Batman with a knife when he tried to save her. Margot Robbie spoke in a toned down version of Harley's Brooklyn accent and brightened up every scene she was in. Her manic energy, ever changing loyalties, and always present smile made her one of the most interesting DC women to date. The only problems I had with her was the depiction of her heart's desire and the presence of the Joker holding her back.

Suicide Squad suffered from a lot of problems including way too many characters, too many flashbacks, poor villains, and odd musical choices. So many characters didn't need to be there and their removal would have streamlined the bloated film. Slipknot was barely there, but he needed to be to show the Battle Royal-esque way the villains could be killed. Katana, while a good character, did almost nothing. She could have been saved for another film.. Boomerang and Killer Croc also had very little impact on the film. El Diablo was just along for the ride for the first half of the film and could have been more developed had there been less characters. As a result of basically absent characters, the team had no chemistry which is needed for an ensemble film. The Joker also didn't need to be there at all. I appreciated Jared Leto's approach. Heath Ledger is a hard act to follow and he made the role his own with unpredictable behavior, odd mannerisms, and a creepy laugh. However, he kept Harley his throughout the film. She was defined by her relationship with him throughout instead of being able to stand on her own. He was only really needed in the final scene which could have provided some suspense to see his full character in a future film.

Since all of these characters are brand new to film, each of them had to be introduced. They chose to do it lengthy flashbacks for each character (except for Slipknot which is why no on cared when he was killed). Marvel accomplished this well in Guardians of the Galaxy with short impressions of each character and then getting to know them more through dialog and interactions. The flashbacks (that were present throughout the film and featured even more unnecessary characters) slowed the pacing to a crawl. It's another case of DC trying to throw way too much into a film without knowing how to handle it. The choice of music would have been fine if the songs hadn't been so obvious for the scene and sometimes so close together. They were trying to replicate the success of Guardians of the Galaxy's use of pop music, but there was a reason for it and it fit into the film well without overpowering it. The choices didn't really have anything to do with each other and some seemed out of place.

The villain had such potential, but ended up falling flat. The Enchantress shares a body with a mild manner archaeologist and completely changes appearance when transforming between characters. The first transformation was well done and fluid, but later special effects with her looked cheap and at least a decade old. The minions she sent out were kind of like Putties from Power Rangers and didn't really pose much of a threat. It seemed like they were only there so the majority of the Suicide Squad had something to do. Weapons were proven ineffectual against her and the only one who had any real chance against her was El Diablo with his power over fire. Everyone else wielded conventional weapons. Although the stakes were high as she wanted to take over the world, it didn't feel like it. She chose to fight them hand to hand when she could have either teleported around or used her power against them. So much felt off about the Enchantress especially when she seemed to be weirdly dancing in the climax of the film.

Suicide Squad is a fun film, but it suffers from too many characters, a lame villain, and a soundtrack that tries too hard. Some individual characters stood out, but others didn't have any effect on the film at all. I'm looking forward to more films with Harley, the Joker, Katana, and Amanda Waller, but the rest of the characters weren't particularly memorable. Some moments could have been emotional, but it was ruined by the pacing or a line or another explosion. This film gives me hope for the DC universe and we'll see how the Wonder Woman and Justice League films turn out. I hope they figure out how to make a film with memorable characters without too many things jumbling it up.

My rating: 2.5/5 fishmuffins

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