SUICIDE SQUAD Review

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Tony goes to the place where cool and tedium collide. Blows shit up. Never gets that two hours back.

When does this end, Flag?
Deadshot, Suicide Squad

There’s a serious disparity in Hollywood right now. Somehow, we’ve ended up living in a BizarroBurb where all the movies that are actually quite cool have trailers like a handful of Tramadol, and all the movies that are really quite enough to make you beg to suck Deadpool’s little friend to get you out of watching any more of them have trailers that are the coolest thing since a smoking polar bear in a leather jacket. On a Harley fucking Davidson.

Ghostbusters barely raised a smile through promo-season and then kicked ass on screen. Suicide Squad has a trailer so cool it sets a parade of mindless violence to Seventies Brit-Glam legends The Sweet and makes you think ‘Fuck the reviews, I have to go see that shit!’

That, of course, is the point of trailers. To make you ignore what everyone else is telling you, and decide that your freedom to make up your own mind is more important.

We need to cut that shit out, there are elections coming up that could end with the planet being a smouldering cinder. Your personal opinion is not that important. Neither is mine, but I went to see Suicide Squad anyway. Now they have my money, and I am sadder and older with no real increase in my life’s joy quotient.

Let’s see how to best describe the movie for you…

There are some great performances in this movie. Jared Leto’s Joker? Oh to the seriously disturbing hellyes. Mesmeric to the max, and for this geek, at least half a ton better than Heath Ledger’s straggly-assed Clown Prince of Chaos. Margot Robbie as Harley Quinn? Oh gods yes – poor Margot acts her socks off in this thing. We can by all means question the cool of the whole dynamic of Harley as a highly conditioned, mentally broken abuse victim, dysfunctionally adoring her abuser, but in terms of a performance, step forward Ms Robbie, the world is yours. Will Smith too delivers as Deadshot, a character whose personality and background are pretty paper thin. Still, Smith doesn’t phone this one in, he’s about as present as the script lets him be. Likewise the superb Viola Davies as Amanda Waller – there’s something gloriously dead-eyed in her performance here that’s worth celebrating as an expression of the actor’s craft, even if her character makes perhaps the least sense in the whole movie. From a Marvel-style add-on scene mid-credits, we have hopes that her actions and the whole existence of the Suicide Squad will start to make rather more sense in future inevitable DC-universe movies.

The rest of the cast…are there, certainly, with some solid moments shared out more sporadically among the rest of the Squad, Jay Hernandez as El Diablo grabbing most screen time by virtue of keeping his metaphorical powder pretty dry till quite far into the movie, despite, like Deadshot, having a godawfully thin, fairly standard character as a guilt-ridden gangster who happens to be metahuman as all get-out. Hernandez gives the role some dignity, earning the time he’s on the screen.

So – performances? Yes, some. Effects? Yes, many, and generally pretty dull. Ooh look, things are exploding, ooh look, hapless civilians are being turned into 1987-style jelly-headed Doctor Who reject monster assassins, for…some reason that makes no sense. Ohh look, there’s a bit spinny lightning thing, circa the original Ghostbusters. Yawn.

Plot?

Erm…plot?!

Let’s stop kidding around here; there is no plot, not really. What DC has done is create a kickass ‘clear the streets of monsters, climb a tower block, kill the Big Bad’ video game, and then recruited some damn serious actors to drag it out of the B-league and get you to pay for it.

Enchantress – a seemingly immortal supervillain metahuman – has possessed the body of archaeologist Dr June Moore, and before long, she’s freeing her immortal brother from a statue and then…

Wellllll….then they pretty much faff about on a tower block rooftop, mostly unseen, while making jelly-headed drones to send after anyone who comes near them. The high-level faffing apparently creates a world-killing mega-machine by the highly sophisticated expedient of ‘swirling some metal shit about in the air forrrrrr about an hour and a half while the Suicide Squad makes its way to a confrontation with you.’

Seriously, this is the level of laziness and tedium we’re dealing with in the scriptwriting:
  • a) establish supervillains,
  • b) have supervillains do nothing while Suicide Squad fight their way to them,
  • c) announce that the supervillains are done faffing,
  • d) attempt to destroy human race,
  • e) fail,
  • f) crowbar in a handful of happyish semi-endings to justify the whole experience.
Quite apart from the laziness of the supervillain day-planner, the whole notion of why the Suicide Squad is assembled is simply nuts. So nuts in fact, DC tries to mitigate its nuttiness several times by having a number of characters remark on how darn-tootin’ fruit loopin’ nuts it is. Somehow though, this attempt to quieten the audience’s lack of buy-in to what is a barking mad ‘for no reason other than it might make a cool movie’ motivation, and subvert us on board with it, if anything just hardens us into more outright resistance of it, as our Inner Rationalist screaming at the screen ‘Look, look, even your own characters know this is nuts! Stop now, this makes no freakin’ sense, you loons!’

That’s really the least forgivable element of Suicide Squad – it practically reeks of crass commercial cash-in like a desperate guy on a Saturday night, overdoing the body spray. It does have the great performances, in the same way as the guy may have some charm and a couple of classy moves to put you at your ease, but overall, this is a very handsy movie, pulling out every trick it can to get what it wants (in this case your money, not your virtue), and not really prepared to put the effort in to giving you a good time as part of the bargain.

Ultimately then, Suicide Squad is a handful of excellent clips and trailers, some performances that really stay with you, and a really forgettable movie. A year from now, you’ll swear blind the Suicide Squad were there to stop the Joker. Robbie and Leto come out of the movie with their careers significantly enhanced, Smith plays solidly to his base, Davies adds an interestingly amoral sociopath to her resume, and they’re all worth watching, but as a complete movie, Suicide Squad is much less fun than its trailer was. Save yourself some bucks and some hours – play the trailer five or six times, and get the hell over the itch that’s telling you that you absolutely need to go and see Suicide Squad.

Tony Fyler lives in a cave of wall-to-wall DVDs and Blu-Rays somewhere fairly nondescript in Wales, and never goes out to meet the "Real People". Who, Torchwood, Sherlock, Blake, Treks, Star Wars, obscure stuff from the 70s and 80s and comedy from the dawn of time mean he never has to. By day, he runs an editing house, largely as an excuse not to have to work for a living. He's currently writing a Book. With Pages and everything. Follow his progress at FylerWrites.co.uk

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